Sometimes I ask myself, what have I been doing all my life? The years fly by and I hardly seem able to account for them – especially as I have two books desperately late in being delivered, and my writing routines seeming derailed, with everything else getting in the way. But I remind myself that writers live – and it’s life that gets in the way – and so it should – and life has to be lived, and life is the inspiration behind writing – so long as, of course, the routine can be clawed back to get it all down.

So I’ve written articles, short stories, plays, myths and legends – which all felt like displacement activity – preventing me from making progress with my two undelivered books, sometimes only achieving a sentence in a day or a paragraph (not counting the hundreds and thousands of words I’ve thrown out.) Yes – some books are like that: some leap almost fully formed as Athena did from the thigh of Zeus, others are squeezed out in a totally different time scale like dripping water that gradually becomes a stalactite or stalagmite. You can read about the writing of some of my books here and see some articles and discussions of things I see and things which interest me.

54 Responses to HELLO

  1. wendy picken says:

    Hello Jamila

    Just finished reading ‘Out of India’ and loved it . Loved the way that you portrayed your childhood in India, India being colourful and England being grey. Do you still hate the smell of lavender?.

    My favourite books are about India and England, and being an English woman with a passion for India , I love to read books that evoke images and paint pictures of an India of long ago.

    It was certainly a great way to spend a day

    • jamilagavin says:

      Hello Wendy
      Thanks for your kind comments – especially that you found it a nice way to spend a day. ( re: Out of India.) Yes – I do now love the smell of fresh lavender and have it growing outside my door so that it rushes inside when I open the door first thing in the morning.

      I hope that perhaps my other books about India will also give you pleasure.

  2. Aislinn says:

    Hi Jamelia I’m reading Out of India at the miunite at school. Its awsome so far!

  3. Smita Dwivedi says:

    Dear Jamila,

    We would be honored to interview you for our “MEET THE AUTHOR, section. Where in you share your experiences and views about the books, you’ve written. It would be a delight for our readers and grate opportunity for us, if we could do a special feature with you.

    In our every issue we profile an author who inspires and motivates our readers, like APJ Abdul Kalam, Anita Nair, Nita Mehta, Gulzar, SHudha Murthy etc.

    ALL ABOUT BOOK PUBLISHING (AABP) is a bi-monthly trade journal exclusively dedicated to book publishing industry in India. All About Book Publishing aims to serve the industry associates and enable them to perform effectively. It will be a reliable information source for the book publishing industry.

    AABP comes from the house of S-Media Group, which is a B2B media house that focuses on five verticals–publication of Magazines, books, directories, websites and other services. As we serve the printing, publishing, signage, newspaper and pet industries, our publications have been a proven medium to develop integrated business and marketing solutions among its readers. Along with our foremost titles like Print & Publishing, Sign & Graphics, All About Newspapers, Dogs & Pups and DigiSign Digest, we host prominent news portals titled http://www.signnews.in, http://www.printnews.in & http://www.printvacancies.com with deep concerns over the latest news updates and technology developments in the industry. So far, S-Media Group has been identified for its hard-earned reputations and enormous pride of whatever the group fits into. For more info, log on to http://www.smediagroup.in

    We do look forward to an opportunity to meeting you and await speedy revert.

    Thank You

    Regards and Best wishes

    Smita Dwivedi
    S Media
    Ph- 9871295033

    • jamilagavin says:

      Dear Smita,
      Thank you for getting in touch.

      I would be very happy to do an interview with you in your “Meet the Author” section.

      I look forward to hearing from you.

      With best wishes,

  4. Kate Arul, mother of Joe says:

    Dear Jamila, I have been given a leaf at school and am to write interesting facts about you on it! You have definitely had an interesting life from what I have discovered. But what do you think is the most interesting fact about you?! I like the fact that you have lived in so many places and also that you have parents from different cultures, just like me! If you could tell me another special fact, then that would be great to share with my class as you are our author focus for this term in Year 4 Hagley Primary School, Worcestershire, DY9 0NS.
    Many Thanks,
    Joe Arul

    • jamilagavin says:

      Dear Joe,

      I feel most privileged to appear on your leaf at school.
      You ask what I think is the most interesting fact about me. Hmmm. Not sure. Could it be that I dreamed of being an acrobat and walked on my hands? Or that I love music, trained as a pianist and still play the piano? That I have a secret passion for detective thrillers? You can take your pick!
      All the best,

  5. Dik Ng says:

    Dear Jamila,
    I chanced by the Southbank Centre today and enjoyed your ‘Introducing Tales from India’ presentation as part of the Imagine Children’s Festival at the Southbank Centre. Indian Mythology certainly sounds fascinating! I took some photos and have uploaded them online in case they are of any interest or use to you.
    Thank you for sharing these wonderfully rich stories!

    • jamilagavin says:

      Dear Dik Ng,

      How rude of me not to have acknowledged your kind message. I’m sometimes so bad at checking WordPress. So many apologies. I’ll try and see the photos you posted of the event at the RFH – which I thoroughly enjoyed. I do hope you read this!

      With warm wishes,

  6. Sue mann says:

    Hi Jamilla, we love Grandpa Chatterji and wondered if there is any way we can bribe you to come into our school in picturesque Leicestershire? We would be so thrilled if you could visit us? Pleas contact us at Hallaton Primary School @. Mrsmann34@gmail.com. Xxxx

    • jamilagavin says:

      Sorry for the delay in replying. I’m bad at checking my website! I’d love to visit you all in Leicestershire and will drop Mrs Mann an email.
      Cheers for now,

  7. Archie Roe says:

    Dear Jamila,
    I am writing to you because I am doing a project about you for school. I know that you come from India and you came to England when you were young. I also play the piano like you. I would reall like to know what your favourite book is and who your favourite author is. You said you didn’t know you wanted to be a writer, what did you want to do when you were young? I want to work with animals. I hope you have time to answer me.
    Many thanks
    Archie Roe

    • jamilagavin says:

      Dear Archie,

      Nice to hear from you – and to know that you are doing a project about me at school.
      In answer to your questions: what is my favourite book, and who is my favourite author? That’s a hard one. I have read so many fantastic books in my life. If you’d asked me that question when I was six, I would have said my favourite book is Little Grey Rabbit by Alison Uttley. At nine and twelve I had grown to love the fairy stories of Hans Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, and also myths and legends from round the world. I also gobbled up detective stories and ghost stories. At fourteen, I loved Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” and Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations.” In my late teens I discovered American writers like Hemmingway and Steinbeck, and French writers like Victor Hugo and Maupassant, and thought all their books amazing. But I have always loved books about India so naturally, I loved Kipling’s Jungle Book, the Just So Stories, and Kim. Recent Indian novelists who I think are amazing are Salman Rushdie and Rohinton Mistri. But you see, I keep reading, and keep finding new books to love.

      The great thing about being a writer is that you can turn to writing as and when you find you have something you must say. You may be nine years old, like Daisy Ashford, or over thirty, as I was when I began writing, or even in your seventies like a number of successful writers. So long as you keep on reading good books, you’ll absorb good writing, and maybe become a good writer yourself.

      Good luck with working with animals. Now who was that vet who wrote stories about his life as a vet?

      Good luck,

      • Barnaby says:

        Dear Jamila,
        Hello my name is Barnaby and I am 8 years old and I am reading Coram Boy at the moment (on my Kindle). We are doing a project on you at school so do you mind if ask some questions for you.
        1. What was your favourite subject at school (mine are art, French and English) ?
        2. How did you come up with the first line of coram boy (I thought it was hilarious!) ?
        3. What inspired you to be an author?
        4. I would like to be an author when I grow up – do you have any advice for me?
        5. Was it difficult to get your books published?
        6. How old were you when you started writing?
        7. Did you want to be anything else before you became an author ?
        8. why are only 2 of your books on kindle/
        Thats it for now

        Thank you so much!
        Barnaby Arul

      • jamilagavin says:

        Dear Barnaby,
        I hope you’re not finding Coram Boy too much to take on board as I did write it more for a teenage readership. There are some rather harrowing descriptions and dark issues. Therefore I was surprised that you found the opening line “hilarious.” If you mean the line “Oi!Meshak! Wake up you lazy dolt!” That was the voice of young Meshak’s bullying father, and it was meant to sound threatening and rude. If you have read far enough in to know what kind of man his father was, then perhaps those opening words may not seem quite so hilarious. Do let me know!

        My favourite subjects at school were Music, English, History and Gymnastics in that order.

        The reason I became an author is that one day, when I was quite grownup and had trained as a pianist and already had a career in the BBC, I decided I wanted to write books for my children and other people’s children to reflect my half Indian background. Of course, Coram Boy doesn’t do that, but many of my books do.

        The main advice I give people who say they want to be authors is to read a lot, write a lot, and be passionate about something; have something you really want to say, or a story you really want to tell. Some children know very early on that they want to write, (like you, perhaps?) But others like me, can be grownup and can have done lots of other things first, although I always loved making up stories and poems from my earliest childhood. That’s the beauty of being a writer. You can decide at any time in your life. It comes back to having something to say and something to tell.

        I got published fairly quickly after submitting my first story, but I was lucky enough to be writing at a time when my kind of stories about multicultural Britain were in demand. You have to be very dedicated and very persistent to get published – but just don’t give up.

        You ask why there are only two of my books on Kindle. I think another two or three might turn up in the next year or so. I hope so! Actually – I think there are three at the moment. “Coram Boy,” The Robber Baron’s Daughter” and “Alexander the Great.”

        Thanks so much for writing, and hope my answers have been useful.

        All the best,

    • jamilagavin says:

      Dear Archie,
      So sorry for the belated reply to your message. I do hope you have been getting on well with your project.
      How nice to know that you too play the piano. Oh – just seen that I did reply to you! Phew! I hope I was helpful.
      All the very best,

  8. veronika says:

    hello gavin my name is veronika i loved to see your books.

  9. Franek says:

    Hi, I am Franek from Southwold primary school. We enjoy your ‘Tales from India’

  10. Omolade Adebiyi-Zeal says:

    Dear Jamila Gavin
    I hope you had a magical time in my class,is it true that you are writing a new a book and if that is true I would love to read it.
    If you write another book how many books would you have writen all together.

    • jamilagavin says:

      I did indeed have a magical time meeting you all in your classroom – and yes – I have another book coming out in August called Blackberry Blue. I do hope you read it and enjoy that too. let me know, won’t you!

  11. Franek says:

    I would also like to thank you for your very enjoyable visit, I love reading and your ‘Tales from India’ is one of my absolute favourites-I also enjoy your other books!

    Hope your well,

  12. Dear Mrs Jamila Gavin,
    Our names are Taiwo and Michael we are thanking you for coming to our school and telling our class a fabulous story about Chris and Joe it was amazing and you really inspired us to be authors
    We really appresheated it

    Michael and Taiwo also from southwold primary

    • jamilagavin says:

      Dear Michael and Taiwo,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed my visit. I enjoyed meeting all of you and telling you stories. I’m glad you were inspired by the story of Chris and Joe.

    • The new book that you writing called blackberry blue sounds amazing i bet that it will be a miraculous story and suberb illastrations hope you are doing well.Can you please add our names in blackberry blue and send it to southwold primary school
      michael and taiwo thanks

  13. charlie says:

    Hi, my name is Charlie, I would like to thank you for visiting southworld primary school. Your one of my favourite authors and my favourite story from tales from India is the birth of Lord Krishna

    • jamilagavin says:

      Hi Charlie, I enjoyed visiting Southwold School – and meeting all of you. I’m so glad you enjoyed the stories, and especially that you liked the Birth of Lord Krishna. he is a very special god, and I liked writing about him.

  14. Hi I am Sarah and Jamal and we are 8 and 9 and thank you for coming to southwold primary school and thnk you for telling us amazing stories about cris and joe and we apprciate you coming

    • jamilagavin says:

      Hi Sarah and Jamal! I really enjoyed my visit to Southwold and talking to you all. I’m glad you liked the stories – and especially the dilemma of Chris and Jo.

  15. Franek says:

    Hi, I love the title of your new book ‘Blackburry Blue’!

    Hoping you are well,

    • jamilagavin says:

      Ha! So you remembered the name of my new book, Blackberry Blue. It’s coming out in August, so perhaps you’ll see it and read it. Let me know what you think.

      Best wishes,

  16. sarfuddin says:

    I really liked the books that you read and thank you for coming and telling some things about you

  17. Charlie says:

    Hi Jamila gavin, what is your favourite animal,my one is a monkey.

    Wish you the best,
    Charlie Crocker

  18. cam_con says:

    hello our name’s are cameron and talha on thursday jamila gavin came to our school and told us what happened to joe and cris and she wore 2 books a year.thank you for caming to our school.i hope you will come again.from cameron and talha

  19. Spirit-ashton says:

    Hello my name is Spirit-ashton and i’m from Southwold Primary School as you have visited before.I like your book called tales from india as it has hindu belives; which is your favourite book that you’ve written?

    • jamilagavin says:

      Hi Spirit-ashton. So glad you like my book, Tales from India. I don’t know which is my favourite book of those I’ve written. I have to love what I’m writing when I’m writing. But there is the Surya Trilogy beginning with The Wheel of Surya – and I still feel very involved with that book.

  20. sarfuddin says:

    when did you start to write? it’s so nice to have you being a author.

  21. jamilagavin says:

    I always loved making up stories from a very young age – but I didn’t say, “When I grow up I want to be an author.” I was nearly thirty-eight before I published my first book – and then I just went on and on!

  22. sarfuddin says:

    you have been busy publishing books

  23. charlie says:

    Hi Jamila gavin i cant wait until august because that’s when your new book comes out and i really want to read it

    best wishes,
    Charlie Crocker

  24. sarfuddin says:

    I cant wait for your newest book to come out in august ‘blackberry blue’.

  25. Catherine Pearson says:

    Hello Jamila,
    Reading through the comments and questions above, I saw that you have visited a few schools. We are studying India this term and have chosen you for an author study, concentrating mainly on Grandpa Chatterji books. Obviously it is too late to organise a school visit now, but would it be possible to set up an email Q & A / interview with the children? We would be so grateful as finding answers to the facts they really want to know – like have you got a pet etc is always so tricky! Many thanks

    • jamilagavin says:

      Hello Catherine! yes I have made many school visits over the years, and I’m very happy to take part in a Q&A interview with the children from your school.

      • C Pearson says:

        Year 3 children have now written their questions to you and we are looking forward to hearing the answers. What is your favourite animal? Is there a book about your life? How many books have you written when you counted this week? What is the shortest time it has taken you to write a book and the longest time?Have you got any pets? What is your favourite food? what is your favourite colour? Who is your best friend? What is your most sepcial possession? Do you ever illustrate your books? Have you got a big garden? How much time do you get to read other books? What hobbies have you got? Many thanks for your help.

      • jamilagavin says:

        Sorry to be so late in responding to your questions. I’m a very bad blogger. But here we go.
        1)My favourite animal is the Bengal Tiger.I hope they can save it from extinction.
        2)A book called “Out of India: an Anglo Indian Childhood,” is the story of my childhood, followed by “Walking on my Hands.”.
        3)I have written about 8 children’s novels, many collections of myths and legends, many short stories for anthologies – and I can;’t really count them all but it runs into dozens. Blackberry Blue is my latest book.
        4) Six months is probably the shortest time I’ve ever taken to write a novle. (It does depend on the length of the story to some extent as to how long,) but the longest is about three years – and still not finished, But I will, I will.
        5) I used to have a labrador, several cats, a guinea pig, a rabbit – but not any more since my children grew up. I travel a lot, and don’t think it’s fair.
        6) My piano is my most treasured posession.
        7)I love drawing and painting, but have never illustrated my own books or anyone else’s.
        8) My garden is long and thin – and quite big enough for me to manage.
        9) Recently, I’ve been making much more time to read. I love reading, but when I’m writing, I tend only to read for research.
        10) I loved tennis, cycling, swimming, skiing and being sporty, but my main hobby is playing the piano.

        All the best,

  26. Kevin Moffatt says:

    Hi Jamila,
    I am a year 2 teacher in a primary school in Kendal, Cumbria. For the last few years I have used your short story The Paradise Carpet for a week long writing focus project where we retell the story through an illustrated story plate. Each year I create a gloomy carpet factory area with a mini loom with hessian sacks on the floor and varied types of wool for the children to experience what Ishawar’s work / life might have been like. I have adapted your story onto an interactive whiteboard with images taken from the internet of Indian slave boys and paradise / tropical gardens.
    As I prepare for the coming term I also search in vain for an illustrated version of the story but am unable to find. Last year I spoke to your publisher who informed me there is no book. I have even considered asking a local watercolour artist to create a series of images for me to use alongside the story. Have you ever considered producing an fully illustrated picture book to accompany this lovely story?
    Many thanks
    Kevin Moffatt

    • jamilagavin says:

      Dear Ken,

      If you go to the bookshop on the Amnesty website there’s a book called “Dare to be Different,”pub 1999 by Bloomsbury. My story, The Paradise Carpet was part of that anthology, (I think!!I’m hunting for my copy to be certain – but it was definitely for Amnesty.) It is illustrated. Perhaps there’s a copy to be had from a library. I’m so glad you have found this a useful story for the classroom and a spur to all sorts of projects. Perhaps I should take up your suggestion and try to get it published as a one off illustrated story. Let’s see.

      With best wishes,

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