Interview with Shweta Taneja, Author of FlipBook – ‘ They made what/ They found what’

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Shweta Taneja started her career as a Journalist. She begins observing other people’s stories as she wants to look into their lives and gain insights. That’s how she kicked off the beautiful journey of writing fiction. Her writing career started emerging while she was doing her job as a journalist too. Hence, she did both things simultaneously. 

She writes speculative, Sci-fiction as well as fantasy books and has also written several graphic novels and books. Presently, it has been 10 – 12 years since her fiction writing career started.

Her Recent Novel ‘ They made what/ They found what’ encapsulates the invention and discoveries which came out from India. It has a number of interviews with Scientists. It is her first Science Book. 

How did you find the idea for this book?

The idea behind my book struck me when an editor rejected my Sci-Fiction book. Therefore, I asked what she was looking for exactly. I got to know that she wants a narrative non-fiction book that captivates the Kids. This made me indulge myself to discover the marvels of modern science and write a book based on Contemporary science which involves new inventions and discoveries. I wrote about those discoveries which are happening at this moment, not those which happened thousands of years ago. In order to write this book, I learnt how modern science works actually and about new scientists who are not getting enough recognition for their commendable work.

I shaped this book into two sections, 10 stories of discoveries and 10 stories of inventions- ‘ They made what/ They found what’. I’ve always wanted to work on a flipbook and this is almost like a dream coming true for me. I like funky layouts where you can play with things. 

It is a Science- Kids Book and you’ve done it in style with the flipbook. What things do you consider while writing for a Kids Audience?

When it comes to Kids, you should know that they are honest and very rude. If they don’t like something then they stop doing or reading that particular thing. Stories should be entertaining, character-based which keeps them engaged. It was a terrible challenge for me as it is a daunting task to make the concepts of science artistic. I wanted to write something which breaks the myth of Science as a boring subject and bumps into something more creative.

 After meeting the scientists, I learned that everyone is capable of being innovative. Once, I met Vijay Lakshmi, she used to sit all day long just to observe the human mind through a microscope. She was passionate and obsessed with how the human brain works. I’ve even written about Brain Research in my book. In the end, Science is all about questioning things and looking deeply into every nuance so that you discover unconventional theories. 

Tell us something about your writing approach?

Every different piece of creation requires a different approach to writing. I have written different short stories in the box to make it more aesthetic. There are not many illustrations so I used box figures and included some activities within the book to make it more impactful. For me, it was more production rather than written format. I called this process as Book Construction. Every chapter includes some kind of activity, jokes, and humorous characters. I also wrote some poems to entertain the Kids. Making plots and writing them into chapters is easy but putting them together is challenging. Being a pop writer too, it became easier to come up with hilarious stuff. After all, I make sure that I laugh and feel happy while writing. 

What advice would you like to give to all budding fantasy and Science fiction writers?

Writing fantasy is slightly easy as you can make your own world and rules. But when it comes to Fantasy Sci-Fiction writing, you need something solid, Solid World, a lot of time for contemplation, various research of certain characters, what would be the future life and social framework. Always consider the age group at the time of writing if you want to include some sexuality scenes. Your imagination can be as wild as you want. Make sure to look into minor details. Like, Story Plot, Proper Research, Character Development. Some stories are a reflection of our society. Those stories should urge you to question certain issues and impact profoundly. 

People exaggerate their stories to make them lengthy. Remember not to stretch short stories because it loses the charm in the mind of readers. These are key points that need to be kept in mind while writing a good story.

 What is your favorite part of this Book?

It’s a tricky question. Every author likes their book. But the most favorite part is climatic emergency and environment research. I‘ve been a part of NCF. That’s why these chapters are one of my favorites. I’ve included two stories which are close to my heart as it hooked me to the core. I got the chance to meet a scientist based in Tamil Nadu, Divya who has been building the Vast forest for 25 years. Her Patience and love for trees captivated me and I learnt that the change is not instantaneous. You need time to achieve something big. Another Scientist was Sonal from Ladakh. Being inspired by the 3 idiots movie, she came up with the idea of making artificial Ice Glaciers. We all are familiar with the climatic conditions of Ladakh and it is a commendable initiative for the inhabitants of Ladakh.

Who are your favorite authors and how do they help you in shaping your career as a writer?

I read different kinds of genres as much possible as I can to explore new things and old ones. However, there are a few writers who have inspired my writing style. Science fiction feminist writer – Ursula K. Le Guin influenced my writings the most. Her way of writing is very simple, beautiful, poetic, and very evocative. I would like to imbibe them in my writings and also her fascinating construction of sentences affects me too. Another one, Octavia E. Butler brought nuance and depth to the representation of her experiences, and how she portrays gender and social issues encouraged me a lot to grow as a Sci – Fiction writer. 

Sci- Fiction demonstrates the mirror of society and opens up the mind. You can relate yourself to the alternate society and understand the impact of certain issues in your life. 

I like to infuse my books with humor and make my readers laugh.

All of this has made me a rising Sci-Fiction writer.

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