Here we present an e-interview with Leni Varkey, the author of 'Kuttan's Dilemma' (ZR review) - a wonderful little book for kids. She shares her views about her book, 'kidlit' and her future plans. Read on..
ZR: Did you always have this story in mind until you finally put it in papers (as 'Kuttan's Dilemma' ) or did some real situation inspire you to come up with this beautiful storyline?
Leni: I have been asked this question by every adult who read this book! Yes, I had this story in my mind for a long time. It was not inspired by any real life situation, the story is purely fictional, although the guava tree and Achayan were very much part of my childhood. As a mother I felt it was a story that had to be told as the message is very clear ' approach your parents if you are in trouble' (what ever it may be).
ZR: What, according to you, are the greatest works in 'kidlit' till date? Do you also believe that the best of 'kidlit' is yet to come?
Leni: Enid Blyton books and Harry potter series.
The fact that Enid Blyton books still fascinate readers is a clear testimony to its worthiness. I remember how engrossingly I read each book and how I treasure them even to this day.Be it Famous Five, Find Outers or Secret Seven or some of her lesser known works, all had a deep impact on children all around the world and will continue to do so in the generations to come.
If' Magic' is removed from Harry Potter books, it would be the story of any boarding school. The fact that J K Rowling didn't go too far from reality, for example, instead of boarding on a magical creature to transport all the children to the school, she chose the london railway station itself with a 9 3/4 platform number and a bank to keep all the valuables, has helped in the likeabilty of the book.
The ability to write for a certain age group for children is a challenge by itself but J .K Rowling managed to do that keeping in view the growing years of the hero. She captured beautifully the innocence of a child in the first book as well as the emotional upheavals of a teenager in the last book. That, by itself, is commendable. Honouring friendship,sticking through thick and thin, victory of good over evil (how ever clever and powerful the villain is), revenge, the chosen one, mystery, fantasy, romance Harry potter series has it all. What's not to like!
Among the recent publications, I was surprised by the popularity of Diary of the Wimpy Kid series. I think the success of the book was in its novel approach in writing, illustrations and the wimpy character.Many children were able to identify with Greg,who is a far cry from the super achieving heros like HarryPotter.
As far as Indian kidlit is concerned I think the best is yet to come.
ZR: Your book 'Kuttan's Dilemma' is full of visual imagery. What inspired you to use it?
Leni: Visual imagery is to a story what sugar is to coffee. Visual imagery helps the reader in getting a clearer picture. It also makes a greater impact as the reader is clearly able to follow the emotions of Kuttan. I think that is especially important for this age group and this story. Also I wanted to bring in a lot of cultural elements of Kerala into the story.
ZR: As an author, where do you see yourself and your book 5 years down the line?
Leni: Hopefully with a few more books under my name including a novel.
ZR: Are you planning to come up with another book anytime soon? Would it also be 'kidlit'?
Leni: I am in the process of writing another book along the lines of Kuttan's Dilemma.
Thanks Leni!! We wish you all the very best for all your future endeavours and look forward to reading, enjoying and reviewing many more books of yours!!