Story telling and the challenges involved in writing for young readers took centre stage at the ongoing Spring Fever festival here with Ruskin Bond,a favourite author with children discussing the issue with Sudha Murthy,an entrepreneur and an author herself.
At the fourth day of the festival yesterday,an initiative of Penguin Books,the duo read out from their books “Hip Hop Nature Boy” and “Dollar Bahu” respectively. During the session titled “Friends from small places”,Ruskin Bond recalled his early days as a writer acknowledging that it was difficult to get publishers for books written for children.
“When I was younger,we didn’t have any publishers,especially for children’s books,there was a void. As someone who has grown up passionately wanting to be a writer,there is a sense of responsibility you feel towards your readers,” said Bond,who has penned many collections of books and novels.
“When it comes to children,the responsibility is felt more as you want to instill good values in them,while staying humorous as well,” he said.
Author Sudha Murthy who has written a book on a wide range of genres acknowledged that easy access to information had made it difficult to write books for children. “Writing for children is a big challenge as you needto first understand today’s children. With today’s tech savvy children,there is no dearth of information or knowledge.Children are direct and not biased and therefore we owe it to them to be responsible in our writing”,she said.
Recalling her early days Sudha told a packed crowdthat hailing from a family of teachers her grandfather hadgiven her the responsibility to donate books to at least one library. “My grandfather was a teacher and he told me when you
have enough money. For me,you must buy books for at least one library and today we have donated books to some fifty thousand libraries,” said Sudha.
The writer is the wife of N R Narayana Murthy,co-founder of Infosys. “My writing is independent of Narayana Murthy. It is my love to write and enjoy that makes me a writer. Many say if we were rich like you we would also have become authors,but you don’t need to be rich to become an author. I am an extrovert who loves to share her experiences with everyone,” said Sudha.
A prolific fiction author,Sudha who has published several books said,”Simple writing comes to me on my own. If I would write for an adult I would like to write it in a bit sophisticated way.”
Bond was at his humorous best when asked about his favourite genre. “I don’t know about genre. I am a lazy writer and I love writing short stories,but it is difficult to put all your thoughts into one single story. As far as genre goes ‘ghost
stories’ are my favourite,” said Bond. He also narrated a series of humorous incidents drawn from his life. “My granddaughter brought me a cell-phone and I held it upside down and in the process of getting the network I dropped it from my window.”
“I am technologically inapt. I am helpless with a cell phone. I hope in my next life I will become a technocrat,” said Bond. The Indian author of British descent was thronged with array of questions ranging from how to write to even one budding writer seeking tips to get his work published. “In small towns opportunities are much less than the larger cities. You need a change in the educational system towards more technical than theoretical.”
Like all its previous editions,this year’s Spring Fever Festival is open to all and features authors like Vikram Seth,Ramachandra Guha,Mira Nair,Gulzar,Prakash Iyer,Ankit Fadia,Amit Mehra,Vikas Khanna,Restaurateur Monish Gujral,Durjoy Datta and Nikita Singh. The ten-day festival is set to end on March 24 and will encompass a wide range of activities including readings,discussions,conversations and other exciting activities along with some excellent musical performances.