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Books, Life and More with Shweta Mahendra

1)  Please tell us about yourself. Kindly include your professional, educational background, hometown, age, etc.

My name is Smt Shweta Mahendra Dandekar. I am an Indian-based children’s storybook writer. I have written down seven children’s storybooks. Seven is not counting ‘There are Some Feathers in my Cap’

By profession, I am a government employee and a lecturer in govt. Girls school. and in my opinion that teaching is such a soothing job, better than others.

I am proud to say that I was born in such a well-educated and reputed family. My father is a retired forest officer, my mother was also a school teacher in a private school and right now she is a beautiful homemaker. My uncle (tauji) was an IAS officer in New Delhi and my aunt was a retired income tax officer. My elder brother is an associate professor in an engineering college and my lovely sister is an HR in the private sector. 

And yes I am blessed with a dashing and wonderful soulmate who is a pharmacist in a government hospital. Now I am the mom of two cute little daughters and enjoying my happily married life.

Well, my home town is in the heart of India that is Bhopal. I am living blissfully and enjoying my happy married life with my family. Please if you ask about my age, height, and weight, I will say that’s secret *laughs*. 

2)  How does it feel to have your book “BhilwadIDays” published? What does this mean to you?

Well, before ‘Bhilwadiya Days,’ my two storybooks are already published from better yourself books, Allahabad. But yes Bhilwadiya day was a book that I waited for a long time. When it was in my hand, I feel on top of the world, because I want to share my village life experience with everybody. It is a journey of a modern city girl in the village, who has never been to the village and that girl is none other but me(author). I have heard that India is progressing day by day in every field. And in the newspaper, news channel when you go through it you will know the same. But the reality is a little bit different. .after joining my job in a very dense and interior village, Iface so many challenges .one  is lack of convenience facility. I was helpless to walk on foot to reach the school on time on the tattered road. And it was the biggest and very tough challenge for a girl who walks five kilometers alone whether it may be hot or it may be rain.,then same I have to return back on foot. second thing is in the village there are people who are very superstitious. if they are suffering from a deadly disease they will avoid going to the doctor, instead of they believe in the flick. And there are so many things that need to change, but the local villagers never want to be. I remember some of my girl students who are very talented and want to be successful in her career, but their parents, grandparents don’t believe in this. And they dream of the early marriage of those girls. And for some of them, they do it.

3)  When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? How long have you been wanting to become one?

In my childhood times, I loved to watch the Doordarshan channel,especially on Sunday. At that time the television are very rare seen in our colony. Only in a few of the homes it was a wonderful day. How can I forget that all the neighborhood kids used to gather at our house and watch cartoon serials. Such as alice in wonderland, he-man, mickey mouse younger sister was very much influenced by the alice in wonderland. She said ,to me every night before sleeping, please tell some more and different stories about Alice. I wonder, that how can I? But I did it. And make her fool by doing some imagination and make a story. she was very much influenced by my stories. One day she narrated my story to her best friend. Then she also tells me that please tell me a story. 

And same, I make her fool too, by narrating concoction stories. One day my mother said, “Your fantasy imagination is wonderful. Do participate in the Dainik Bhaskar newspaper children’s storytelling competition” and I did. I participated at the age of eleven. And it was amazing when my mother said,” that your story is published in a newspaper and you are the first runner up”. I feel so proud of myself, and I felt like I was at the top of the world. I showed it to all my friends, my neighbors. That time it sounds like a big thing. After fifteen days I got a reward from the Dainik Bhaskar team, a pencil box was small, beautiful but very precious to me. This small thing motivated me and yes my mother too. Whenever I get time, I start writing on a piece of paper, or in the back of my subject notebook.and one day I  saw that I have a bunch of written stories. During my graduation time, I decided to publish my story book. I don’t have much idea how I could publish my story book. I waste several hours on an internet café in search of a publishers list.but almost all my manuscripts are rejected more than twenty-five times. But one day, it was call from better yourself books, and the publisher said your book is selected for the publication process. 

Finally, it converted into a lovely storybook. That was my first book name- “Mary fall in dreams”. Then one more book is published from the same publication house that was “pansy and other stories”.third book is my “Bhilwadiya days” from blue rose .the gift, a bunch of joy is my fourth book.

4)  What inspired you to write this book?

Well, this village is beautiful scenery in itself. But still, I want to tell everyone that there are a lack of facilities in this village. But in spite of this, there are so many talented people who belong to this village who are selected in revenue services. Some are high ranking officers too.what I have seen was so many students who are willing to prepare for competitive exams ,but there is a lack of coaching institute.there is lack of convenience teacher wants to come in the interior village and serve the school,even doctors too. For this, they are forced to leave their village and have to live in the city .from this book I want to give entire people a deep message, that doctors, teachers, engineers have to come forward and become a ray of hope for the village.

5)  In your own words, how would you describe your book?

Read my book and you will know more about it.

6)  You have written other books such as “The Story of a Violet”, “The Gift”, “An Ode to the Childhood” and “Princess of Rhymes” which one is closest to your heart and why?

An ode to the childhood is my favourite among them. Because in this book, if you read you will remember those childhood memories with your precious time spent with your grandmother,granny house, a beautiful and happy childhood life without mobile,internet.I want to read this book again and again,it makes me feel relaxed.

7)  What do you do apart from writing? What are your hobbies?

Being a  mother,a wife,a lecturer I have so many household responsibilities. So,I didn’t get a chance to sit.but yes I love to watch animated movies with my family in pvr.and of course love to read thousand times ruskin bond’s books.they are really wow…I don’t have any particular hobby,but I love gardening also.Ihave planted so many bonsai plants in my garden, cooking, and yes I love cooking too. Especially chicken biryani.

8)  Do you plan on writing more in the future? What kind of books or genres do you plan on exploring?

Yes, I am working on three more projects. One romantic novel titled “kesar,a true love story,” is almost completed. Another one is a fantasy storybook for kids. The third one I am working on with my husband is “badIbhalIhaIamma meri”….my husband is also a deep thinker buddy and gives me new innovative ideas. I am grateful to him that in every storybook, he assisted me a lot.

9)  Anything you’d like to say to aspiring, budding writers?

I would like to say to budding writers that don’t stop writing, keep on writing.if really you want to achieve big just be ready to face the rejection also.

10) According to you, what is the most important quality a writer should have?

Writing is a god gifted. Not everyone becomes a writer, but everyone can write something better. Deal is that if you feel deeply and if you think deeply, if you can feel emotions of others, if you can differentiate the truth, if you imagine character, then only you are writer, and in my opinion, if you can feel the pain of anguished ones you can write much better on any topic.

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Focusing on Literature and Lifestyle of the Urban Youth of the Country, LitGleam is a monthly magazine, an intrinsic part of BlueRose Publishers.

Within its pages, our readers find provocative essays on literature and lifestyle, guidance for getting published and pursuing writing careers, in-depth profiles of poets, fiction writers, and writers of creative nonfiction, and conversations among fellow professionals.