From Chronic Reader to Prolific Writer

. February 15, 2017 .

It’s quite common to outgrow your first love. From childhood crushes to childhood hobbies, everything loses its sheen after a while. But in Khyrunnisa’s case, her infatuation with her first love only grew stronger. She loved English in school, made it her area of focus in college, then got herself an MPhil in Literature. But despite always being a devourer of words, she never quite pictured herself as a writer.   

“I have always loved English. I was and continue to be a chronic reader of books. I enjoyed writing, but that’s quite different from wanting to be a writer; I never harboured such a thought or ambition.”

Then in 1996, Khyrunnisa chanced upon a competition for adult writers of children’s fiction in a magazine for kids. She entered it just for the heck of it, and won second prize. That’s when her interest in writing was stirred. But the turning point came when Prabha Nair, the assistant editor of that magazine visited her one evening.

“Mrs. Prabha Nair’s in-laws were in Trivandrum. When her colleagues in the Tinkle office found out she was visiting them, they gave her my address. They asked her to look me up and find out, to quote her words, ‘If she was as bubbly as her story.’”

That first story was Butterfingers. Overwhelmed and encouraged by Prabha Nair, Khyrunnisa entered the following year’s competition as well.

“I hadn’t been planning to (enter the next year), satisfied as I was with my second prize. However, I did, and won the first prize, going on to win seven firsts in a row. Now, I was well and truly bitten by the writing bug and I wanted to keep writing.”

Today, Butterfingers has developed into a hugely popular series of children’s books, published by Penguin India. Apart from whetting the imagination of kids, the series also offers Khyrunnisa a sense of fulfillment.

When asked what advice she’d give people who hesitate to do what they love, Khyrunissa says:

“If you are passionate about something, don’t hesitate. There’s no harm in trying; the power of your conviction will see you through.”

Hear, hear, Khyrunnisa! Here’s hoping you continue to charm your audience with your entertaining creations.

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