StoryWeaver Spotlight: N. Chokkan

1.     What do you usually read? Which language do you prefer to read in?

Like most readers, my preferences change every few years. For the previous five or six years, I am mostly reading poems (and few stories/articles) written at least few hundred years back. It is fascinating! Given a choice, I would ONLY read Tamil books 🙂 Mainly because there is so much to read there and I am quite comfortable reading Tamil. I usually read English books for relaxation or when my work demands it.

2.     Is there a favourite book / author and why is it a favourite?

Favourite book: there are many, don’t want to name a single one 🙂

Favourite authors: J. K. Rowling in fiction, Nammazhvaar, Kambar and Bharathiar (All Tamil) in poetry, Sujatha (Tamil) in Nonfiction.

Reason: when you read just a few paragraphs from any of their work, you will immediately know that they care for their readers. I feel that is an important skill for an author.

3.     You have contributed for us immensely. How has the StoryWeaver journey been?

Amazing. I loved the concept of infinite stories in different languages in a single platform. I am enjoying it!

4.     Could you share one big thing that you take away from this experience?

I guess the biggest thing I learnt from StoryWeaver is that stories and images don’t stop within a book.

I mean, when you read a printed picture book, you are focused on it, you complete it, close it and then you pick up the second book. A similar experience is possible with StoryWeaver too; one can read each story separately and enjoy it. But, the fun increases multifold when you look at the “picture repository”. Suddenly, you see all those images at your disposal; I can mix two images from two different stories and create a third story. Someone (coming from a different background) may mix those images backwards and create a fourth story. This means you have an unlimited supply of stories, most of them may not even be written!

5.     How does it feel when your story gets published online?

It doesn’t create the kind of excitement I get when I see a story published in print. But then, I am not a digital native and I still love print books. So don’t take this feedback personally!

6.     You have translated / reviewed a handful of stories for us. Which one has been your favourite and why?

That would be “A Helping Hand” by Payal Dhar, illustrated by Vartika Sharma.

I enjoyed reading this story which talks about friendship and fitting in. It has an implicit message, even some scientific facts, but they don’t disturb the story flow, which fills us with positivity.

7.     What is your key driver in taking this up?

Very simple, I like writing, and I keep looking for new ways to write and learn. As I told earlier, StoryWeaver gives me unlimited options to do so.

8.     How else do you think we can join hands in taking bigger steps for children’s literature?

I know there are many kids’ books (stories and images) which are in public domain. I feel StoryWeaver can have a crowdsourced project to bring them to its platform.

Also, given the fact that many of your target audiences may only understand their regional language (even their mother tongue) and can’t read, you can think of adding the audio capability to story pages. I mean, one volunteer can read the story and hundreds of kids can listen to it, even if they can’t read that language.

9.     How has the overall experience with StoryWeaver been?

அருமை! ஒரு வாசகனாகவும் எழுதுகிறவன், மொழிபெயர்க்கிறவனாகவும் StoryWeaverஐ மிகவும் ரசிக்கிறேன்!

Excellent! I love using StoryWeaver as a reader and as a writer/translator!

10. What’s the secret behind your awesome professionalism?

Ah, finally an easy question 🙂

My teachers (in and out of school) taught me that professionalism is as important as (if not more important than) the talent. I am just trying to follow their advice. If at all I am doing well on this aspect, credits should go to them!

(September 2016. Originally published in StoryWeaver blog)

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