Interview · notebooks · papers · pens · writers · writing

Interview with Chitra Soundar

Although I have a box full of pencils, I don’t use them that much. I don’t like mechanical pencils at all – they are too fragile for my writing style. The biggest reason I don’t use pencils is that over time they fade and my writing might be blurred over time – especially if I become so famous that there might be a museum and these notebooks will have to go on display. What if a young researcher who wants to read my writing finds it hard to read?

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My favourite pens are Pilot V-sign – especially the black and red hues. The ink is liquid, the pens are not heavy for me to write really fast. They are bright and will keep my words safe forever (see above). On a Moleskin Cahier paper, my writing looks almost literary, actually they look fun. Pilot offers Black, Red, Blue, Green and Purple – I would like to swap out the purple for an orange though. (At least you can eat an orange.) It must have been a tough choice, as both colours don’t have perfect rhymes.

Nowadays I prefer plain paper notebooks, as I can scribble across and diagonally without the lines staring at me with disapproval. My primary school teachers must have bled their eyes out rolling them at me.

I’m very fussy about notebooks. I prefer “leuchtturm” and Moleskine. Because of the thickness of the paper, the gorgeous vibrant colours of the covers and the options available – like hardbound vs leather covers vs cardboard covers.It’s the quality of paper and the thickness / width of the lines if they are lined.

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For every new project, nowadays I buy a new Cahier. It comes in a pack of three – even if cheaper, I don’t like the “brown” or the “grey” covered ones. I prefer the pastel coloured covers. They look graceful. I would love them to bring out Cahier covers in bright colours too.

It’s not really about the brand – it’s more about the quality of paper. I recently found a A5 notebook in Paperchase which had same quality of paper and beautiful hardbound cover which I use as the “in-my-purse” notebook.

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I think buying a notebook is the same (but more important) as buying shoes or bags I guess. Good functional quality and then design and looks. Then the price makes it either a “reward” buy or a mandatory buy.

I’ve a day job today so these are mandatory buys. I absolutely cannot write my award-winning novel celebrating diversity without a French Cahier by British Moleskin written using Asian Pilot V-Sign.

In a few years time, if and when my dream comes true and I write full time on an empty stomach, I’m not sure I would choose wisely between a Cahier and a full meal. Just in case, I end up choosing food, I’m buying up my favourite notebooks to hoard now so when the day I’ve to suffer for my art, at least my art wouldn’t suffer.I buy a lot of other stationery stuff. One thing about stationery is that it keeps me moving.

  • Electric sharpeners (I don’t use pencils – but I still like sharpening them).
  • Permanent markers (I do believe nothing in life is permanent, as Buddha said, but my washing machine disagrees).
  • Glass board markers where I list things like “send blog post to Papers, Pens, Poets by end-August”, “update website photo with someone more glamorous” etc.
  • Sticky notes of different shapes and sizes – hexagon in candy floss pink and heart in tiger eyes orange.
  • Pens – the ones I already trust and like – they are best friends. Then the pens I want to go on first writes with (they are like first dates, awkward and unsure). Most of them get rejected, some become casual friends, some become friends with benefits. But then if I don’t kiss many frogs, I won’t find my prince. That’s how I found my Pilot V Sign.
  • Document holders for my cluttered desk. (Psst. My document holder says that ship has long sailed.)
  • Foot-rests that prevent me from doing toe-art on the wall I face
  • Scrap books for each new book I start to work on – I start work on many things at the same time. I don’t always finish all projects at the same time. I don’t finish all of them either.
  • Black paper on which I can write in white / silver / gold ink – because all girls should be able to write with silver and gold ink. It’s a writerella kind of stationery. I draw the tree of fortune in silver and give them gold leaves.

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I’m going to stop there before you figure out that my writing room is so cluttered that I can’t find anything I buy so I buy two sets of everything because I have forgotten I already have it.

Publishing deals are like #47 on Jamaica Road. You wait for one for a few years and two comes along at the same time and come out the same year, making you tear your hair out figuring out publicity stunts like hanging laundry on Tower Bridge and cooking pumpkin recipes via Periscope.

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Otter-Barry Books are releasing this September, a retelling of an ancient, previously untold flood story (before I decided to retell it), Pattan’s Pumpkin, a picture book fabulously, illustrated by Frané Lessac. It’ll be out in the US in Spring 2017 too.
Walker Books are bringing out the second in the Prince Veera series. A Jar of Pickles and a Pinch of Justice is out in November this year, with B&W illustrations from Uma Krishnaswamy.

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I’ll be doing launches and lunches to promote these two books. Watch out for details on www.chitrasoundar.com (which also features some photos that prove I was a little girl once.)

DSC_6459 chitraI have a Facebook page where parents of my Indian readers, my primary school teachers and classmates and many teachers find latest news, newsletter announcements and sneak-peeks of my book-covers, trailers and such.

Head to www.facebook.com/ChitraSoundarAuthor and like the page to be part of that community.

Twitter is my equivalent of hood-loitering, wall-sitting, hanging out by the corner shop virtually. I’ve made friends, ducked out of harm’s way from Trump supporters, cheered for my friends, shouted loudly for diversity and connected with like-minded folks around the world. Come and say hello using @csoundar.

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