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This bestselling author thinks in Kannada, writes in English


Besides being a philanthropist and chairperson of the Infosys Foundation, Sudha Murty has carved a place for herself as one of the most popular children’s authors in India. Murty attributes the popularity of her books to their simplicity and relatability. “I write in a very simple way with a small vocabulary and most Indians who study in their mother tongue have that kind of English language,” she says. “It’s not that only my life has these experiences, but I note down everything, which is the secret of my success,” Murty told Shobha Tharoor Srinivasan at the Times Literature Festival.

Talking about her writing process, Murty said she prefers to write early in the morning before going to work and then revisits it in the evening. “It is like boiling milk on a fire. When it starts boiling it comes out of the vessel. The moment the story is ready, it pushes me to write.” She added that for her, writing was often like watching a movie play out in her mind. “The scenes and conversations come in front of me, frame by frame, including details like the colour of saris,” she said.

The septuagenarian revealed that she started writing in English only after her 50th birthday. “For the first 50 years of my life I wrote in Kannada,” she said. “I believe age is no bar to learning; this is something that my grandmother taught me.” Even today, she says she thinks in Kannada when writing novels “because the emotions come to me in Kannada”.

Murty’s own love for reading began early. “I grew up in a village with no electricity and radio in those days, so the only entertainment was reading books,” she recalls. Her advice for aspiring writers? “Writing is like weaving a cloth – imagination is one thread and reality is another. When the book is finished, the reader won’t be able to distinguish what is imagination and what is reality.”

Murty believes that writers can’t be overly sensitive. “Sensitivity is the essential core of a writer but if you are extremely sensitive, then when someone says negative things about you, you get so perturbed that you can’t function. Over time, I have developed thick skin but retained sensitivity so I can write.”



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