Varsha Seshan is a writer of to-do lists, detailed notes to self, and emails. In between all that, she writes stories. Her story ‘Wilderness’ is about the feeling of being chosen to get a tiny glimpse of the wonderful wild world. It is also the winning entry of our Travel Writing Contest.

Editor’s note: Going to look for a big cat is an experience most travellers are familiar with — the anticipation, the build-up, the disappointment, the excitement, the awe. What is jungle safari about? Why do we seek out the majestic cats of the jungle? What thrill do we draw from it? In this account, the narrator gives a peak into the experience of scouting for big cats, as well as the beauty of being witness to other forms of life in the forest. The writer beautifully evokes the quiet and chaos among the lush green, the tension of the jungle as it awaits the entry of a big cat. 

Juggernaut had a tete-a-tete with Varsha about her story and her love for travel and writing.

Please tell us more about your story ‘Wilderness’.

There is nothing like being given a peek into one of the secrets of the wild. It makes you feel privileged, somehow. And that is what created ‘Wilderness’ – the feeling of being chosen to get a tiny glimpse of the wonderful wild world.

Your dream travel destination. What makes it so fascinating to you?

My dream travel destination is a type, rather than a place. I want to visit as many jungles of the world as I can. Every time I visit a forest, there is something different in store for me. Nature holds on to some secrets and reveals a tantalising few. The sense of infinite possibility draws me to the forest again and again.

Do you have any particular rules or rituals you follow as a writer?

Too many, which I’m always trying to break.

I can’t write if my workspace is dirty. My first draft has to be pencil and paper – sitting at the computer is just too formal for me. My best writing time is the morning, when everyone else is asleep. I cannot sit in one place and write for over twenty minutes …

There are more rules than I can count, and more rules keep coming into being, however hard I try to fight them.

What do you prefer – expressing your travel in words or capturing them in pictures? Why?

Words, always words. I think the emotional content of words is far higher than that of pictures. We bring more of ourselves in and have the freedom to express ourselves better.

What got you interested in becoming a writer?

I’ve been a writer since I was seven. I read Enid Blyton and wrote about pixies and dames. The possibility of a new story is always exciting, and my parents were and are nothing but encouraging. There were creative writing competitions, children’s newspapers … everything kept me going.

What’s that one piece written by you which is your all-time favourite?

None. When I think a piece is exceptionally good, I revisit it a few months later and feel that it could be much better. This is true about every story I write, without fail. It’s disheartening at times, but it helps me to keep reflecting on what I consider well written, and I suppose that’s a good thing!

Your bestselling authors and book list. Why do they make it to your list?

Ask me tomorrow, and the list will change, but here are the top few that come to mind. I’m primarily a children’s writer, and my list reflects that.

♦ Enid BlytonMalory Towers, The Five Find-Outers and Dog, Faraway Tree – because they got me hooked to reading.

♦ Roald DahlMatilda, George’s Marvellous Medicine, The BFG – because they opened up new possibilities.

♦ J.K. Rowling – particularly Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – because she is magical.

♦ Michael MorpurgoPrivate Peaceful, Kensuke’s Kingdom, Running Wild – because they speak of the power of storytelling.

♦ Eva IbbotsonJourney to the River Sea

♦ Michelle MagorianGoodnight Mister Tom, Just Henry

♦ L.M. Montgomery – the Anne series and the Emily series – because I wanted the characters to be my friends

♦ Katherine RundellThe Rooftoppers, The Girl Savage

Other books that I want to squeeze in here – Talking of Muskaan, Mayil Will Not Be Quiet, Queen of Ice

Any writing tips you’d like to share with fellow writers?

Keep at it. Especially when you send a manuscript out to a publisher, start something new. That way, if your story is rejected, you are already working on another and you never hit rock-bottom.

You can read her story Wilderness here.


Leave a Reply