Weaving words and new worlds


Payal Dhar

Most writers like to complain about their editors. Even if your editor is your best friend, it’s hard to take all their advice on the chin. So it was an interesting experience for me to be on the editing side of the fence, dishing out comments on stories included in ‘Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean’ and then waiting nervously for the fall out from the writers and illustrators. I was so glad to be co-editing with Anita Roy as well as the talented Payal Dhar.

I had been friends with Anita Roy since 2007 but my relationship with Payal grew first via email and then through long weekly Skype conversations.  Every week for a year, Payal, Anita and I spent hours discussing the ideas behind the anthology and whose work we would like to see included and then months on end editing the stories as a team.


Payal is an amazing writer to work with and her contribution to the anthology, ‘Memory Lace’ is an exquisite story set in an alternative world. Predictably, it needed very little editing. Payal is one of those people who can do anything with words. She blogs, writes, reviews, edits and moves between genres and forms with ease. In her fiction, her prose is always finely crafted. Her editing is clear-headed and precise and her imagination seems to be limitless.

She’s the author of the beautiful layered fantasy trilogy ‘A Shadow in Eternity’ and also ‘Satin’, which is the first book in a new series. She vividly builds worlds and conjures characters who break the rules of time and space. Her children’s novel ‘There’s a Ghost in my PC’ is full of deeply likeable and quirky contemporary characters. But she also writes realist fiction and her latest YA novel, ”Slightly Burnt’, feels like a deceptively smooth story about two middle-class friends growing up in Delhi until you realise it actually tackles some of the toughest sexual dilemmas that confront teenagers in any country.

At the Bangalore launch of the anthology with Payal Dhar, Isobelle Carmody and Samhita Arni.

At the Bangalore launch of the anthology with Payal Dhar, Isobelle Carmody and Samhita Arni.

It was great to finally meet Payal when I went to India in November to launch the Indian edition of the anthology. Although she’s usually based in Delhi, we caught up in Bangalore (Bengaluru) and I think it was pretty strange for both of us to be able to chat without worrying about our internet connection dropping out. Hopefully, one day Payal will make it out to Australia and Australian readers will have the chance to enjoy more of the word magic that she weaves.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Every adult was once a child and the child inside them never disappears.”

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