Pallavi Kodan is an author, poet, and motivational speaker who has been active in all fields which are creative in nature. Born in Delhi, she tends to write about things which need an urgent attention and this has meant focussing on writings about the inner self of women, which has always been suppressed with the weight of patriarchy. She encourages and motivates women to be what they want to be. A post graduate in English literature, she loves to read, write as well as teach. Her creative self triggered her to come out with her first book “Million Memories”. Working as a teacher in Heritage School, Rohini; Motivational Manager in Pepsi; and also as the director of an NGO, Humans for Humanity, she is very vocal about women-centric issues, which includes workplace motivation as well as awareness about health and sanitation. In a candid chat with Chirdeep Malhotra, she talks about her debut book, literature festivals and much more.
When did you think about writing this book and what was the inspiration behind it? Can you tell us more about your writing journey?
I had a bug for writing since my school days. Initially, I used to write poems and short stories in a diary. But, the thought of writing something meaningful and being a published author was always in my mind. Finally, I could pen down all my thoughts and mould it in a book form which has been a dream come true. My English teachers have always motivated me, be it Rashmi Ashtikar mam in school or the excellent faculty in college- they all made the subject matter so interesting that I got inspired to write.
Can you give a brief overview of your book “Million Memories”?
The book “Million Memories” takes you through the life journey of three friends, which is nothing less than a roller coaster ride. This is a book that makes you cry, makes you laugh, and makes you trigger your minds as well. The book has emotions of love, jealousy, seduction and anger. But it’s a feast for women as it has a woman-centric narrative, as it emphasises on this very attribute- “How a woman should be strong enough to take a stand for herself, for if she doesn’t, nobody else will”. The book is also a chocolate read for young readers. It has every flavour and gist which makes it relatable for everyone at some or the other point in their life. It’s a journey which highlights the importance of ‘choice’. And as a line in the book says “It’s not about what you lose, it’s about what you choose”.
How has the response of readers been to your debut book?
One thing that I have been told by almost everyone is that the book is very relatable and the language used is very easy, and it can be read even by people who are not much ardent readers. I am glad to have received such a response from the majority of the readers.
Nowadays, a lot of literature festivals are being organized which have gone a long way in fostering love for literature in the reading fraternity. Have you participated in some literary fests? What do you think are its other advantages, both for readers and writers?
Yes, I have participated in Lit fests but not in many. The first one that I attended was Dehradun Literature Festival. I am also participating in this year’s edition of this lit fest- Dehradun Literature Festival 2018 which is yet to happen in August. I think that a Literature festival is like food for a hungry soul, the soul of an avid reader who is always searching to meet authors and find about good books and also vice versa, for the hungry soul of authors who love to indulge in good and healthy topics with their readers, and yes of course, to spread a word about their book in a place where everyone is actually interested.
You have been the judge of Queen’s Commonwealth essay competition, 2015 from India and have also recently been awarded with Bharat Nirman Award, 2018. Can you tell us more about these endeavours and achievements of yours?
Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition was an interesting one where I had to judge essays written by authors from a few countries. It enhanced my creativity skills as I had so much to read on my reading platter, and that too coming from different cultures and having different perspectives. Bharat Nirman Award makes me feel honoured and satisfied, that yes I am going towards a correct path. I am working as a director in an NGO, Humans for Humanity and have been writing about our work and being honoured for it makes me inspired to work even harder.
The author blurb mentions that you are an avid reader. What are your favourite books? Can you share with our esteemed readers about the genres that you and your favourite authors?
I basically like a somewhat different genre, which includes writings focussing on post-colonial literature and my favourite among them is Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.
What are your other interests apart from writing?
I love spending time and playing with my daughter, that’s my favourite hobby apart from writing.
Are there any other literary projects that you’re currently working on?
Yes, I am working on a book which features short stories derived from the life of Anurag Chauhan, the founder of Humans for Humanity, and inspiring work that he has done from a very young age of 13 years. It’s an absolutely different book from what I have written before but it is surely very inspiring for young minds, especially school children who can get motivation from it and start seeking for a passion from a very young age.
Who is your biggest critic and how?
My biggest critics are my father and mother who have always unflinchingly told me about my mistakes and guided me correctly. If they don’t like something that I have written, they have ways to convey it to me so that I can work hard and improve it.
There are many new writers who are aspiring to get their work published. What would you say to them?
My piece of advice would be- “Never give up on your goals. Keep on penning your thoughts, the world is hungry for knowledge and good books”.
Can you share with our readers a motivational quote that keeps you going?
This surely has to be one from my book- “Nothing changes, if nothing changes”.
Written by: CHIRDEEP MALHOTRA