Recently, I read Romi & Gang by Tushar Raheja, an young-adult fiction. From the look of the book, it's cover, the characters, the events - everything about the book took me back to my own childhood; days when school vacations were spent with The Five Find-Outers.
Romi & Gang is by far one of the better reads I have read of late. Currently, almost all books for young-adults pertain to fantasy, while the real fantasy which we grew up on, is totally ignored. Raheja has brought back the genre not just for the pre-teens of today, but if you have grown up anytime till the 90s, you will love it too.
I tried to know the author a little better, why don't you too? Read on:
No one really writes much for children these days. Specially not best-selling authors who write for grown-ups. How come you did?
A book writes itself. In my case writing is more of a caprice. The subject chose me and I went along. You don’t really think about these best-selling author and target audience trifles.
When I read 'Romi & Gang', I felt I was reading Blyton. Despite nothing being copied from her style of writing, this book gave a faint remembrance of her adventure books. How did you manage that?
Really didn't go out to do that. Although am a Fatty fan myself what has inspired me in general is more of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, Tom Brown's school days to an extent, and, R K Narayan back home.
When we write for our age-group, we think, as we are. But children are whimsical, they like something, the other moment they don't. Was writing this book difficult?
I really haven’t grown up at all; so I assume it was not that difficult. :-) Writing, as I mentioned before, is itself whimsical – in my fantasy land I really haven’t grown up.
What's with so many IIT grads turning into authors? So much literary talent, sitting in engineering classes?
Literary talent? Not sure! There have been better authors from other walks of life. Anything associated with IIT just grabs the eyeballs.
Do you write for a hobby or you are planning to take this up as a full time occasion subsequently?
For me there is no switch off button; so haven’t ever been able to keep reading/writing down to a hobby.
Both your books are widely spaces, 'Anything for you ma'am' came in 2006, and 'Romi & The Gang' in 2013. Pretty long gap. When do we expect your next?
The next should come sooner. The reason for the gap is the publishing set-up here. Have found an indie support system and at the moment am not wary of seeing the book in print.
What would your next book be about?
It will take you out your armchair to a wormhole for a ride of a life time :-)
Kipling, Wodehouse, Mark Twain, R K Narayan, Asimov... am more inspired by movies – Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Capra, Hitchcock, Ray, Lubitsch, Zemeckis... so many of them. No particular genre.
Are you in support of the emerging trend of e-books, or do you need paperbacks?
That's a tough one. Love the smell of books but have never been a fan of elitist bookstores and expensive books. So ebooks have made reading remarkably democratic and accessible. So I am happy to read on Kindle but any day prefer diving into a pile of old books and fishing out treasures.
What inspires you to write. Who/what is your muse?
Again whims and fancies that seize you, consume you and swell into inspirations.
For every 10 reader who loves a book, there will be 12 who didn't. Any book. How difficult is it to accept criticism? And how important?
Old adage – you cannot please all. So I prefer to focus on surpassing myself.
Read the review of Romi & Gang here.