Speakers

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.- Albert Einstein

Forum at Neev Literature Festival 2017

Aditi De
Day 1 – Workshop Facilitator – Facetime with the Mahatama
Day 2 – Author talk
        Aditi De is a Bangalore-based author, dreamer, traveller and editor. She loves children and the world of the word. In 1989, she launched Junior Quest, the popular magazine from the Chandamama group, and later edited the Open Sesame children’s supplement at the Deccan Herald. Her books include A Twist in the Tale: More Indian Folktales, Jawaharlal nehru: The Jewel of India. She has written children’s columns for Chatterbox magazine, Deccan Chronicle and Young World. Cultural journalism has been her forte since her stints at Indian Express, Chennai, and Deccan Herald, Bangalore. Her passions in life include travel, interacting with creative people engaged in the arts, crafts and textiles, and sharing special time with children.

Anand Ramachandran
Day 2 – Panelist – How games make kids smarter
        Anand is the creative director of BYJU’s. He ran live game operations for some of the world’s largest and most famous social games, including Mafia Wars, Hidden Chronicles, Hidden Shadows and Yoville. He is one of India’s most widely published videogames columnists in the mainstream press, best known cricket satire columnists and has published a wide variety of satire columns in leading Indian publications. He is a published author with a range of children’s comics and stories for leading Indian publishers. His major areas of interests is the use of media like comics and videogames for education and awareness programs in the development sector.

Andaleeb Wajid
DAY 1 - Workshop Facilitator – Creative Writing
        Andaleeb Wajid is a Bangalore-based writer. She has written on diverse topics like food, relationships, weddings etc. She weaves all of these in a Muslim context. She has spoken about how she wants to challenge the stereotypical representation of Muslim lives through her stories. She started writing at the young age of 10 and decided to pursue writing as a career after school. Her first book was published in the year 2009 which was titled Kite Strings. Ever since, she has written eight more books. These include Blinkers off (2011), My Brother's Wedding (2013), The Tamanna Trilogy 2014), More Than Just Biryani (2014), When She Went Away (2016) and Asmara's Summer, (2016).

Anita Nair
DAY 1 – Main stage talks–“Muezza and Baby Jaan: Stories from Quran”
        Anita Nair is an Indian best-selling author of fiction and poetry, with her famous novels The Better Man and Ladies Coupe translated into 21 languages. Her first book, a collection of short stories called Satyr of the Subway won her a fellowship from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. In 2002, appeared the collection of poems Malabar Mind, and in 2003 Where the Rain is Born - Writings about Kerala which she has edited. Anita has also written The Puffin Book of Myths and Legends (2004). She also edited Where the Rain is Born (2003). Anita’s writings about Kerala and her poetry has been included in The Poetry India Collection and a British Council Poetry Workshop Anthology. Her other works include Mistress (2003), Adventures of Nonu, the Skating Squirrel (2006), Living Next Door to Alise (2007), Magical Indian Myths (2008), Cut Like Wound (2012), The Lilac House (2012), Idris: Keeper of The Light (2014), Chain of Custody (2015), and Alphabet Soup for Lovers (2016).

Ankit Chadha
Day 2 – Panelist – Trend Vs. Tradition
        Ankit Chadha, a writer and storyteller, specializes in weaving new narratives for Dastangoi - the art of storytelling. His writing varies from biographical accounts of personalities like Kabir and Majaaz; to modern folk tales on nomadic pastoralism and the Internet. He has spoken on Dastans at platforms including Princeton, Harvard and Yale. Additionally, Ankit has innovated the form of musical narrative that uniquely brings together stories and music. He has also worked on Urdu adaptations of children's classics including Alice, The Little Prince and Phantom Tollbooth. Ankit is the author of the award-winning books "Amir Khusrau - The Man in Riddles" and “My Gandhi Story”.

Asha Nehemiah
Day 1 - Workshop Facilitator – Story-telling
        Asha Nehemiah’s stories for children are a mix of humour, fantasy and adventure. She writes for children of all ages and her stories have been translated into Hindi, Tamil, Assamese and Bengali. She believes that stories are a wonderful way to get children thinking and talking about various issues.She lives in Bangalore with her family. Apart from reading and writing, she enjoys walking, baking, watching movies and playing bridge. Her published works include: Granny’s Sari, Wedding Clothes, Children’s Surprise Gifts, The Runaway Wheel, The Rajah’s Moustache, Mrs Woolly’s Funny Sweaters, - Zigzag and Other Stories, - The Mystery of the Secret Hair Oil Formula, -Sir Lawley’s Ghost and Other Stories. Asha’s stories also appear in Anthologies of children’s fiction published by Puffin and Scholastic and in many English readers used in schools.

Gillian Wright
Day 1 - Workshop Facilitator – Animals and Us
DAY 2 - Panelist – Developing Characters
        Gillian Wright is a translator and writer based in New Delhi. She has translated two classic novels of Hindi literature, RaagDarbari by Shrilal Shukla and A Village Divided by Rahi Masoom Reza, as well as a selection of the acclaimed short stories of Bhisham Sahni. Her other books include Presidential Retreats of India and The Darjeeling Tea Book. She has also worked with her partner Mark Tully on all of his books, co-authoring India in Slow Motion. Her book Mishti is full of love and, told in gloriously readable prose and complemented with charming illustrations, this is a book for all ages.

Jahnavi Barua
DAY 1 - Workshop Facilitator –Creative Writing
Day 2 – Panelist – Should we fear the dark?
        Jahnavi Barua is an Indian author from Assam. She is the author of Next Door, a critically acclaimed collection of short stories set in Assam with insurgency as the background. Rebirth, her second offering has been described as a wonderful and moving book which has elevated Jahnavi to the top rungs of contemporary Indian writers in English. Marked by her use of simple words and phrases, besides her disarming honesty, what sets Jahnavi really apart is her deep love for her homeland, that she tries to reflect through the lives of her protagonists. She lives in Bangalore, and is a doctor.

Jane De Suza
DAY 1 - Workshop Facilitator –Humour
Day 2 – Panelist – Trend Vs. Tradition
        Jane De Suza is the author of the recently-released book – SuperZero, a laugh-out-loud book for children. Other children’s books that Jane has written include Party in the Sky, The Big Little Want and the Han Series. She has also written a best-selling humour novel – The Spy who lost her Head. In an interview with Hippocampus, Jane shares interesting anecdotes of her childhood, and tells us about what inspired her to start writing humourous novels for children. Jane writes for magazines across the world including National Geographic and also writes a parenting column in Good Housekeeping.

Jigayasa Labroo
DAY 1 - Workshop Facilitator – Discovering my Voice
        Jigyasa taught in a challenging community for two years in the Teach For India Fellowship during which came the realization that the idea of education in many schools is limited to academic outcomes and the security of employment and a child's voice is compromised. This led to the conception of Slam Out Loud. It later became the first project of Arts for Social Change India (ASCI) and the idea of creating a space for expression and leadership development progressed from children to encompassing everyone. Later, through her role as National Student Leadership Consultant with Teach For India that impacted more than 40000 children and 1000 fellows, she fostered a culture of student leadership through fellow development. Currently managing Organizational development for Creatnet, she has worked with a multitude of organizations in leadership building and expression, including IHM Srinagar, Delhi University and the Government. A recipient of the Gold International Award for Young People she's also a public speaker and musician, disseminating her learning through various institutions and TEDx talks.

Khushnaz Lala
Day 1 – Workshop Facilitator – tbd
Day 2 – Book reading and signing
      Khushnaz is a Writer, illustrator, artist and accidental adult based in Mumbai/Bangalore. Using text as her primary medium of expression, combined with illustration and sculpture, Lala is both the fairy godmother; with her three “child-friendly books for adults”, and the wicked witch, with her sarcastic and often dark humored artwork that she posts on social media. Her illustrated picture books; ‘This is a Very Silly Book’, ‘I’m With Silly’, and ‘Dear Left Sock and Other Letters’, were published by HarperCollins in 2016. Through the quirky characters, the books show that being silly is not just about pulling goofy faces, but is rather the fearless act of being true to ourselves. Based on the books, Lala has conducted Silly Workshops across the country. Through lots of goofy dancing, ridiculous stories and secret confessions, the workshops explore what it means to inhabit our own skin, and open up dialogues on issues like bullying, gender, mental health and self and social identities. She has conducted readings and workshops for both children and adults at various literature festivals, summits and performance venues. She has also spoken at TEDx, with a talk entitled, “I am a god but I am also garbage: how to con your way through adulthood while eating Cheetos in your underpants.” Lala is a contemporary artist whose oeuvre includes work for Grammy Nominated singer, Mike Posner.

Lavanya Prasad
DAY 1 - Workshop Facilitator – Story - telling
        Lavanya Prasad is a professional storyteller and the founder of Tale'scope. She believes that stories have great power to bring about a positive change in anybody. She pursues this dream of hers through her venture Tale'scope. Tale'scope works with schools, corporate (training sessions) and also conducts storytelling sessions/workshops in libraries and activity centers.

Maya Thiagarajan
DAY 2 - Panelist – Why Read
        A global citizen, Maya Thiagarajan has lived and worked in India, Singapore, and the US. She earned a BA in English from Middlebury College and a Masters in Education Policy from Harvard University. Maya began her teaching career with Teach For America, where she taught at a public school in Baltimore City for two years. She went on to teach high school English at some of America's most prestigious independent schools. After a decade of teaching in the US, Maya moved to Singapore and began teaching at The United World College of South East Asia (UWC). Struck by the different approaches to education and parenting that she encountered in Singapore, Maya began to interview Chinese and Indian parents living in Singapore. Using her own experiences as well as the stories of parents whom she interviewed, Maya wrote a book titled Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age. In addition to teaching and writing, Maya also conducts workshops for parents and teachers on a range of education related topics.

Nadine Bailey
Day 1 – Workshop Facilitator – Story-telling
Day 2 – Panelist – Trend Vs. Tradition
        Nadine Bailey is a IB (International Baccalaureate) PYP (Primary Years Programme) teacher librarian at the Canadian International School, Tanjong Katong Campus, in Singapore. She believes in the power of social belonging and affiliation in helping students become comfortable with libraries and reading -- and is passionate about the role of picture books in aiding conceptual, social and emotional learning in students of all ages. Nadine has lived and worked in Africa, Europe, South America and Asia and embraces literature as an integral part of identity, culture and language. She has Masters degrees in Information Studies, Education, Philosophy and Business Administration.

Paro Anand
DAY 1 - Workshop Facilitator –Author interactions
Day 2 – Panelist – Should we fear the dark?
        Paro Anand “A fearless writer and performance storyteller with a big heart”, best describes Paro Anand who has been honoured with the Sahitya Akademi Bal Sahitya Puruskar Award, 2017 for her book, Wild Child, now published as Like Smoke with additional content. Recognized internationally and locally, including by President Kalam of India, she headed the National Centre for Children’s Literature, has interacted with over 3 lakh people, primarily, children in difficult circumstances, and runs a programme, Literature in Action. Her book, No Guns at my Son’s Funeral was on the IBBY Honor List and is translated into German and Spanish. The Little Bird who held the Sky up with his Feet was on 1001 Books to Read Before you Grow Up, an international gold standard of the world’s best children’s literature. BBC, Hindi, selected her on their 100 Women #100Women Project – A project highlighting the challenges and achievements of women in India.

Poile Sengupta
Day 1 - Workshop Facilitator – Story-telling
Day 2 – Author talk
        Poile Sengupta is a novelist, poet, playwright and short fiction writer, for both children and adults. In 1968, she began “A Letter to You”, a humour column for the children’s magazine, Children’s World, which ran for nearly three decades. She has written columns for children in Deccan Herald, Bangalore, The Times of India, Bangalore, and in Midday, Mumbai. Her recent fiction for children includes Role Call and Role Call Again, 2003, Vikram and Vetal, 2005, and Vikramaditya’s Throne, 2007. She did her Masters in English from Delhi University and later studied Children’s Literature at Carleton University, Ottawa. She has taught at college and school levels, and is a well-known theatre person. She has acted in several plays and in the award-winning films The Outhouse and Shaitan.

Priya Muthukumar
Day 1 – Workshop Facilitator – Mostly Monsterly, In the Woods, Among the Stars
        Priya Muthukumar is a performance-storyteller and is the founder of the storytelling initiative, Storipur. After working in different fields, she feels that working with children has helped her in her self-discovery! Being a qualified student counsellor, she also conducts storytelling sessions on various issues at schools and institutions. She has been conducting storytelling sessions in activity centres, community and public events like the Bangalore Literature Festival -2014 & 2016, Bangalore Poetry Festival-2017, Neralu- Tree Festival, Tsunamika Event (Auroville) , The Alternative- Green Bazaar, Prayag- Delhi and the recent Sustainability Drinks-Bengaluru to name a few. Recently, she was invited to share her views on ‘Igniting Young Minds through Stories’ at the Women Writers’ Fest held in Bangalore. She has been conducting workshops for educationists on various aspects of teaching, learning and storytelling. Currently, she works closely with schools to bring story-based learning as part of their time-table. Through her storytelling initiative, Storipur, she has been using the ancient art of storytelling to connect people with Nature, make learning interesting, share thoughts and views on sustainability, social and environmental responsibilities. She writes sustainability-stories for the magazine, Down To Earth. She has also scripted plays for few groups. She has been featured as one of the innovators making a conscious living in the 52 Parindey series.

Rajesh Rao
Day 2 – Panelist – How games make kids smarter
        Rajesh founded India's first games company, Dhruva Interactive, in 1997 and is acknowledged as a pioneer of the Games Industry in India. Dhruva completed 20 years in business in March 2017, and has set many milestones along the way. Tom Friedman in his bestselling book "​ The World is Flat"​ has described Rajesh as one of the most dynamic entrepreneurs in India today, and has written a few pages describing how Rajesh started from scratch and successfully 'plugged' into the global games industry. Rajesh has been instrumental in building Dhruva to being a company that is recognized as a leading provider of external development services to the global games industry, respected for its reliable, high quality services and professional integrity. Rajesh is active in promoting and growing the gaming industry in India, by working closely with the startups, trade bodies, educational institutes and government. He is Chair, NASSCOM Gaming Forum, the de facto industry body for games in India. He is member of the FICCI Media & Entertainment Committee, an influential forum that lobbies for policy change for the M&E sectors in India.

Ranjit Lal
DAY 1- Workshop Facilitator – How Wondrous is that; Story writing
DAY 2 - Panelist – Developing Characters, Should we fear the dark; Book reading – Faces in the Well
        Ranjit Lal is the author of over 35 books - fiction and non-fiction - for children and adults who are children. His abiding interest in natural history, birds, animals and insects is reflected in many of his books: The Crow Chronicles, The Life and Times of Altu Faltu, The Small Tigers of Shergarh; Bambi, Chops and Wag; Birds from My Window; The Birds of Delhi; Wild City etc. His other books deal with social issues including female infanticide, child sexual abuse, riots, dementia and teenage relationships. His book, Faces in the Water won the Crossword Award for Children’s Writing 2010 and the Ladli National Media Award for Gender Sensitivity 2012. His book Our Nana was a Nutcase won the Crossword Award for Children’s Writing 2016. His book Taklu and Shroom was shortlisted for the Crossword Award for Children’s Writing in 2013. As a journalist he has had well over 2000 articles and photo-features published in the national and international press and currently has a column – Down in Jungleland – in the Indian Express ‘Eye’. His other interests include photography, automobiles, reading and cooking. He lives in Delhi.

Rasil Ahuja
Day 2 – Panelist – Developing characters with characters
        Rasil Ahuja is a Bangalore based author, editor, and educator. An army brat, Rasil lived in Delhi, Udhampur, Ambala, Baroda, the US, and Bhopal all before the age of 12. This explains why she is always on the move - new house, city, country or idea. The biggest move was leaving a career in technology to teach. Her passion for education combined with a love for stories brought her to writing for children. Her first children’s book, Watcha Gonna Do, Rosie Singh?, debuted in 2017.

Reena Puri
Day 1 – Workshop Facilitator – Making Comics and creating a Comics’ character

Day 2 – Panelist – Trend Vs. Tradition
        Reena has the enviable job of creating comics for a living. As she says, “This cannot be called work. I have just been having fun for the last 26 years of my life.” A writer by instinct, she started her professional career as a journalist and feature writer in two newspapers and a magazine. In 1991 she joined ‘Tinkle’ as Asst. Editor and has stayed with the group ever since. Working closely with Uncle Pai, Reena mentored Tinkle into a 72-page monthly and helped develop and create a series of new characters. She took over as Executive Editor of Amar Chitra Katha in 2008 and spearheaded the revival of the series. Reena has one other passion which tends to overtake writing sometimes, and that is her love for animals. She was co-founder of the NGO, Save Our Strays, in Mumbai. Her mornings and evenings are spent tending to street animals of all sizes and shapes

Roopa Pai
DAY 1 - Workshop Facilitator –Illustration
        Roopa Pai is one of India's best-known children's writers. This computer engineer has written over 20 books for children, spanning the gamut from picture books to chapter books and fiction to non-fiction, covering subjects as diverse as science and economics, fantasy and philosophy. Her forte is breaking down complex concepts into simple ideas that anyone can easily relate to and understand which is why many of her books are as popular with adults as they are with children. Among her best-known books are the sci-fi fantasy series Taranauts, a book on popular science called 'What if the Earth Stopped Spinning?', a book on Economics for children called 'So You Want To Know About Economics' and the award-winning national bestseller 'The Gita For Children'. Her new book on life skills for teenagers 'Ready!' has just been released.

When she is not writing, Roopa indulges her passion for history, teaching and her beloved Bangalore by leading school and college students on history and heritage walks around the city, as part of her job as tour guide with BangaloreWalks.

Sakshi Singh
DAY 1- Workshop Facilitator – Poetry puddle
        Mumbai based Sakshi Singh is an international journalist and an author. Her articles have appeared in various International publications. Her book Rat-a-tat poems and Jalebi Jingles are available in India and Europe and are being used to teach poetry in schools across U.K. Her books are also available in Braille and will soon be out in Spanish, French and other regional and international languages.

Samantak Bhadra
DAY 1 - Workshop Facilitator – Poetry
        Samantak Bhadra's poems and reviews have been published in Rain Taxi, The Missing Slate, 40 Under 40, Recours au Poème, Knot Magazine and Taj Mahal Review among others. He co-founded Let Poetry Be in 2014, a monthly poetry show in Bangalore. A year later, he set up a poetry project in Pune called The Sound Of Poetry which organizes readings and workshops. The project is currently based out of Bangalore.

Shyam Bhatt
DAY 2 - Panelist – Why Read
        Dr Shyam K Bhat MD is a Psychiatrist, Integrative Medicine specialist, and writer. He is the founder of Seraniti.com where he heads a team who provide integrated mind-body and emotional wellness therapies. He founded the Mind-Body Clinic, Bangalore, and is also the founder of Nirvikalpa: The Centre for Human Potential where Dr Bhatt conducts regular group programs and workshops. Dr Bhatt is the author of the best-selling book How to heal your broken heart: A psychiatrist’s guide to dealing with heartbreak, his essays have been published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Annals of Internal Medicine, the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, as well as in magazines such as Time Out, and Outlook Business, and newspapers such as the Times of India, and The Telegraph. Dr. Shyam Bhatt hosted India’s first live call-in radio show about emotional wellness, Heartline on Indigo 91.9, Bangalore, from February 2012 to October 2013.

Sohini Mitra
Day 2 – Panelist – Trend Vs. Tradition
        Sohini Mitra works as Executive Editor with Puffin, the children’s imprint of Penguin Random House India. Through her career spanning over a decade, she has created content across genres and age groups. Working with the most reputed writers in the field of children’s literature in India, she has built an eclectic list of titles for children and young adults which are a treasure to keep. Many of these books have gone on to win prestigious literary awards (Crossword Award for Children's Literature, Comi Con Award, Sahitya Akademi Bal Puruskar Award, to name a few).

Soumya Menon
Day 1 – Workshop Facilitator – Illustration
        Over the past few years, Soumya Menon has created many, many endearing characters for Pratham Books. And well, we're mighty thrilled that she continues to. Just last week, StoryWeaver published 'Ammu's Puppy', a clever and entertaining story illustrated by Soumya Menon and written by Sowmya Rajendran. Ammu, her gang of friends and her puppy are certainly an adorable lot, and what also contributes to the undeniable charm of 'Ammu's Puppy' is the combined wit of the talented Sou(w)myas.

Sudeshna Shome Ghosh
DAY 2 – Panelist – Should we fear the dark?
        Sudeshna Shome Ghosh has worked in the Indian publishing industry for two decades. She started her career at Penguin Books India, where she headed the children's imprint Puffin. She then moved to Rupa Publications and started their children's imprint Red Turtle. Now she is a freelance editor and a consultant with Speaking Tiger Books and is building a children's books list for them, to be launched in 2018. She has published authors such as Ruskin Bond, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Sudha Murty, Derek O'Brien, Ranjit Lal, Subhadra Sen Gupta and many others.

Sudha Murty
DAY 2 - Panelist – Why Read
        Sudha Murty was born in 1950 in North Karnataka. She started her career as an engineer with TELCO (now Tata Motors) and is now the chairperson of Infosys Foundation. A prolific writer in English and Kannada, her books have been translated into all major Indian languages. She has 25 books and 175 titles to her credit – including novels, non-fiction, travelogues, technical books, and memoirs. Some of her awards include the R.K. Narayan Award for Literature, the Padma Shri in 2006 and the Attimabbe Award from the government of Karnataka for excellence in Kannada literature in 2011.

Timeri N Murari
Day 2 – Panelist – Trend Vs. Tradition
        Timeri N Murari is the author of eighteen published novels, including best-sellers The Taliban Cricket Club (2012) and Taj (2007), and four works of non-fiction. He began his career on a Canadian newspaper and later moved to London to write for The Guardian. He has also written for The Sunday Times, New York Times, the Hindu and other publications. He wrote and produced the award-winning movie Daayraa (The Square Circle English title). Time magazine voted it as one of the top 10 best films in 1997. He adapted and directed it as a stage play, The Square Circle, at the Leicester Haymarket Theatre starring Parminder Nagra. His recent play, Enter Queen Lear, premiered in London in 2016, starring Jenny Runacre. He has also written a book for children, Children of the Enchanted Jungle. His latest work is the Young Adult Axxiss Trilogy, published by Scholastic.

Trupti Srikanth
Day 1 – Workshop Facilitator – Stories from around the world
        A closet writer, closet singer, and a closet performer, Trupti came out as a storyteller. She believes that stories have the power to entertain, educate, heal and influence change. Driven by this belief, she not only tells stories to entertain, but also to enable conversations and raise awareness on subjects like Mental Health, and works with schools to help teachers harness the power of stories in the classroom. She enjoys being amidst children and can become one among them in a matter of minutes. You can catch her playing raconteuse to children and adults alike at various cultural spaces, schools, and literature festivals across the city.

Tom Watson
DAY 1 - Workshop Facilitator – Creative writing
DAY 2 - Panelist - Developing Characters + Author talk - Getting children to read.
        Tom Watson lives in Chicago with his wife, daughter and son. He also has a dog, as you could probably guess. The dog is a Labrador-Newfoundland mix. The dog's name is Shadow. Tom wanted to name the dog 'Put Your Shirt On' (please don't ask why). It’s a long story. Sometimes when Tom is visiting schools, he shares the story.

        Early in his career Tom worked in politics, including a stint as the Chief Speechwriter for the Governor of Ohio. This experience helped him develop the unique, story-telling narrative style of the Stick Dog books. More important, Tom's time in politics made him realize a very important thing: Kids are way smarter than adults. And it's a lot more fun and rewarding to write stories for them than to write speeches for grown-ups.

He LOVES writing the Stick Dog adventures.

Vaibhav Kumaresh
DAY 1 - Workshop Facilitator –Illustration
        Vaibhav Kumaresh is the man behind Simpoo Singh, the famous 30-second cartoon series featured on Channel V, which tickled millions of Indians. Almost two decades later, Vaibhav is as enthused about animation and storytelling, as he was in his early days. When Vaibhav Kumaresh was doodling the face of his teacher in class, little did he know that one day he’ll be known for that character, Simpoo Singh. Over the last two decades, he has contributed to some of arguably India’s favourite animated content in the field of TV commercials and channel promos. Whether it’s the Amaron Battery ad campaign, or Chulbuli for Clinic Plus, or the Vodafone Zumis, Vaibhav’s work has been bang on.