"When I began school, . . . I started to enjoy writing stories as much as reading them. I wrote my stories by hand, or sometimes I used a pink typewriter, and I kept everything I wrote. By the time I was 14, I had a lot of stories!"
Narinder Dhami began teaching in London. She is the author of Bindi Babes and its companion novels and may be best known for the novelization of the hit British movie Bend It Like Beckham.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I was born in Wolverhampton, England, in 1958. My dad came over to England in the mid-1950s from India, in response to Government appeals for people from the Commonwealth to come and work in Britain. He began driving a bus, one day my mom got on that bus and they fell in love!
I came along a couple of years later. I had a very happy childhood although I was conscious of the fact that we (I and my two sisters) were different because we were Anglo-Indian (my mom is English). In the Sixties this was very unusual, and we used to get stared at a lot.
My mom in particular encouraged me to read from a very early age — I was fluent by the age of three, according to her! When I began school, I also learnt to write and I started to enjoy writing stories as much as reading them. I wrote my stories by hand, or sometimes I used a pink typewriter, and I kept everything I wrote. By the time I was 14, I had a lot of stories! I used to read them aloud to my two sisters to see if they liked them or not.
As I got older, however, schoolwork and exams loomed large, and I didn’t have much time for hobbies. I stopped writing stories for pleasure and focused on studying hard, as I wanted to go on to college. When I was 18, I left home for university. While packing up my room, I found the stories I’d written years ago. And I threw them all away! I regret that now.
After college (where I met my husband), I started teaching what we call primary school (children aged 7-11). I enjoyed it, but gradually over the years I started writing for fun again. At first I wrote short stories which were published in girls’ magazines, but I knew I wanted to write a book. However I didn’t feel that I could give my best to my teaching job and to my writing career. So after eight or nine years, I quit teaching — I had just won a PC in a writing competition, so I figured it was a sign that it was definitely time for me to write a book!
The first book I ever wrote was a short novel for younger children called A Medal for Malina. The heroine was based on a real little girl whom I had taught in my previous job, who was a very fast runner. In my story, she has an on-going feud with a boy in her class to prove which of them is the fastest. The book was accepted by the first publisher I sent it to, and I have never looked back since!
I now live in Cambridge (one of England’s famous university towns) with my husband and our five cats. I write full-time and love it, although I still go into schools all the time to speak to my readers.