Cheryl Rao

Mom, first last and in-between, then everything else – wife, sister, friend, dog lover, reader, writer, in-law, outlaw…


Three things people don’t know about you?

Am pretty sure people aren’t interested…

What’s your greatest fear?

Like most other people: losing loved ones.

High point of your life?

Becoming a mother.

Low point of your life

Losing family, friends…

Which living person do you most admire?

I admire too many people to be able to choose just one: friends, family, do-gooders, those who can stand up and speak out, writers, athletes, musicians, the list is endless.

Who is your favorite fictional hero?

Again, too many to name just one. I would say the hero/heroine of whichever book grips my heart and mind way beyond the time I spend reading it.

Who is your favorite fictional villain?

Whom I love to hate…? Can’t think of it…

Who are your favorite authors?

Would have to start with writers from a couple of centuries ago and then go down through the ages…

What are your 5 favorite books of all time?

The minute I start picking them out, the list becomes endless, so I wouldn’t dare to try.

Is there a book you love to reread?

Ditto – but in each repeat I discover things I had overlooked earlier.

What are your 5 favorite movies of all time?


One Superpower you wish you had?


Your epitaph would read? /Last line in your biography would be?

No need for an epitaph at all.

If you had a time machine to take you back to any country and any time period, where would you choose to be for your childhood, adolosent , adult life and silver years?

Pretty happy with this time period and the place hopping done so far… But if I had a time machine, I would like to make many stops in the past - with cavemen and women, at Troy, at the building of the pyramids, marching with the Roman legions, hunting with the Comanche, etc., etc., and also travel way into the future – all with my superpower of invisibility, of course.

If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?

Music and art.

Which book you wish you had written ?

The next one…

When and where do you write ?

Try to write daily. Reclining, sitting up straight, on the settee, at the desk, on paper, on the laptop/desktop. It all depends on how the day progresses…

Silence or music?

Both – depending on where my mind is at the time.

One phrase that you use most often?

You know…

Do you have a writing ritual / superstition?

Not really.

What’s your guilty reading pleasure?

Rarely feel guilty about reading – unless it makes me put off meeting a deadline.

Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?

Keep at it…

Being a teenager is not easy. While teens may sometimes wish to remain under their parents’ protective wings forever, most often they yearn for independence and hate having people looking over their shoulder. They would rather try and fail on their own account than pay heed to all those warnings that float around them constantly. This collection of stories about teenage lives has many aspects readers will be able to identify with or believe could easily happen to them. The stories deal with animals and their relationship with us humans; our relationships with our peers, parents and grandparents; and the past, present, and future. Whether wacky or weird, real or true, sad or happy, enjoy reading them all! Cheryl Rao plans to be 12-going-on-13 for as long as she lives and therefore writes for others like herself, and younger. Her books include A Passage to Adventure, A Friend for Raju, A Mixed Score: Ghost and other stories, Camp Adventure, Adventures in the Desert, etc. Some of her titles for younger children are: Dusty the Dachshund, Late for School, The Kite Festival, At the Fair, On the Train, and Little Painters. When she is not writing, she facilitates creative writing programmes for children and has authored a series of workbooks, Fun with Creative Writing, for levels 1 to 8.

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Debashis Biswas

With more than 15 years of experience in book sales and distribution, Debashis currently oversees Leadstart’s business activities in eastern India and neighbouring countries. He has previously worked with several leading book publishers and distributors.

Walid Jalal

Walid has 7 years experience in online listing & marketing Working in SEO firm & Publishing sector. He worked in a Restaurant as a Manager in Sharjah for two years. He loves cricket & cooking.

Jayati Sarkar

Jayati has been into literature studies and has pursued her Mphil in Australian Aboriginal Poetry from the University of Calcutta. She is an avid reader and her love for books has brought her to the field of Publishing. For years she has explored the other side of the book as a reader and now she works with Leadstart as the Senior Executive in the Editorial Department. Her work profile includes working closely with Authors, managing the projects from end to end and also working with national and international publishers for management of Secondary Rights.

Ashwini Jadhav

Ashwini has about a decade’s experience in design. She is a Master of Commercial Art, who has worked in the publishing and advertising sectors as a visualiser & designer. She was judged as the third best in the state, when she finished her foundation course in applied art. She is a practicing calligrapher in Modi Lipi (a script in the Marathi language) and is a Rangoli artist who has won several accolades in those domains. During the popular Ganesh Chaturthi festival, several idols of Ganesha in varying sizes get made, one the most important finishing touches to the idol is that of painting the eyes, which Ashwini has practiced to perfection and does it for hundreds of idols every year. In addition to the above, she is also a trained classical dancer, a national level Kabaddi player and loves cooking.

Ananya Subramanian

Graduation in journalism and love for books, led Ananya to take up a career in publishing. With her experience in the field, she has come to believe more and more in the power of stories and the people who tell them. She is a vegan and an animal-lover; and loves to dance, tend to her pet plants and often find solace in solo travelling.

T. Vijay Kumar

Vijay has over a decade’s experience in supply chain management working in India and the Middle East. He heads the production, supply chain and receivables management for Leadstart. Prior to his current role at Leadstart, Vijay worked in inventory management for five years, in Abu Dhabi.

Iftikar Shaikh

Iftikar has a decade & half years of experience across publishing and the banking sectors in the finance domain. He enjoys working on numbers and loves uncovering stories that the numbers tell. A fitness enthusiast, he loves trekking and travelling.

Maneesha Arun

Maneesha has an experience of over two decades in the content industry spanning over publishing, media and secondary rights business domains. She has a deep interest in psychology.

Mahendra Rawat

With more than a decade’s experience in book sales and distribution, Mahendra comes from a family immersed in the book trade. He worked with several book distributors and publishers before his current assignment with Leadstart.


With more than 15 years of experience in book sales and distribution, Debashis currently oversees Leadstart’s business activities in eastern India and neighbouring countries. He has previously worked with several leading book publishers and distributors.

Rajesh Krishnan

Rajesh comes with over 3 decades of experience spread over various business domains. He oversees Leadstart’s business development & sales across southern & western India, Sri Lanka and Middle-East. His hobbies include dancing, trekking and travelling

Pooja Dutt

Pooja has over a decade’s experience in operations, sales and people management in various business domains. She loves to interact with authors and helps them meet their publishing goals. She is fond of travelling & cooking.

Bhavika Bharambe

After completing her MBA in marketing, Bhavika has focused on roles that helped her to become an experienced marketing professional today. She has worked for brands from various industries; Educational, Tourism, Retail, Entertainment, Airlines, Banking and more. She loves to spend her time by reading books and listening to music.

Naina Solanki

Naina leads the project management and author support functions at Leadstart Publishing. She is fond of being abreast of the latest developments in technology and is a keen learner of the six sigma methodology. She loves reading and travelling.

Preeti Chib

Preeti has a decade’s experience in brand and communication management with most influential and innovative media companies. She is passionate about building brands by translating consumer insights into product innovations and campaigns. She is a compulsive reader and considers a day gone without some bit of reading a day wasted. She loves reading stories to her children every night. A lover of visual art, to delve a bit deeper into the same, she took up formal training for design as well.

Malini Nair

Malini is passionate about Literature and Business Management. After her MBA (Marketing) from St. Xavier’s, she took up roles that involved sales, marketing, costing, MIS etc. in multiple sectors like Banking, Insurance, E-broking, and even the Steel industry. Eventually, her passion for languages and books compelled her to re-route her career to literature. This led to a career break and a Masters Degree in English Literature; post which she took up a role at Wordit CDE & Leadstart, enabling her to work towards both her passions.

Chandralekha Maitra

With two decades of experience as a book publishing professional, Chandralekha began her career as a features writer and columnist, working with publications across India, before moving into book publishing full time, with India Book House. She received her training in editorial title management from Book House, London. Over the years she has worked with some of the finest publishing houses in India and overseas, and across genres and markets. She has also worked with Osian’s-Connoisseurs of Art, India’s first auction house, gaining in-depth exposure to research and publishing in the fine arts-antiquities-cultural heritage genres. Additionally she has had a parallel, specialist career in Human Resources, working at Group HR, Tata Group, among others. She continues to write, train and mentor in this domain as her publishing commitments allow.

Raj Supe

Aka Kinkar Vishwashreyananda, Raj Supe is a poet, storyteller and novelist, as well as a seeker and devotee of Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath. An MBA by education, his career spanned advertising, research and creative consulting, before devoting his time to literature and spirituality. His works include Three No Trumps (novel), Sagarika Anusagarika [Echoes of Nine Rivers] (poetry), Pilgrim of the Sky (spiritual memoir), and translations of religious texts such as Cloudburst of A Thousand Suns and Jai Jai Ram Krishna Hari. He has also worked on film scripts with Ram Gopal Verma and Ashutosh Gowariker, and on plays with Makarand Deshpande.

Dr. Rabindra Kumar Nanda

An alumnus of IIT Kanpur, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and Stanford University, Dr Nanda is also a National Science Talent Search Scholar. He holds five Patents and is a published author of 50 national and 52 international research papers.

Swarup Nanda

Swarup has over a decade and half’s experience in multiple business domains related to content. Prior to his entrepreneurial ventures, he has worked with a couple of MNCs in the media space. His passion for literature and books is his motivation for building Leadstart.