– Social media and T.V crushes the spontaneity of children. What do you think should be done to change it?
I don’t think there is any point for or against social media and television. It is a fact of life and it has certainly opened up many doors. Everyone gets involved and lost in it. The kids are reading a lot and we have to adapt and learn to use it.
– How do you write for kids without being condescending ?
I really take on the skin of my character in my writing. One of the best compliments that I have got is, ‘you finally got the teenagers to write for’. That is a good compliment for someone who is over 50. It means my voice was correct.
– Do you think there should be censorship in children’s fiction?
Not at all. I don’t think there should be any taboo. Kids are aware and they are talking about it. In many cases they are living these lives. Why should we pretend that its a rose-tinted world? President Abdul Kalam liked my book ‘No Guns At My Son’s Funeral’ but wanted to know why I write such books for children? It is because you have not made a happy world for them, I had replied. The only restriction I put on myself is to end the story on hope.
– Tell us about your experience while the world’s longest newspaper was in the making?
Children can write stories but nobody was asking them. So I thought of asking them. We went ti a particular village and gathered 20 to 25 children who could write. We stuck paper on a sari for these children to write on which served as new reading material. We took the idea further and in a span of one year, we went to 11 states and managed to put up a newspaper which was 825 meter long with writings in 13 languages.
– People have asked you to slow down on writing. Why?
I have been publishing a book a year so my family asked me to slow down. I can’t. I write everyday. It is like a breathing. I have to do it otherwise I will die.
– How do you feel about HLF and do you think it does enough to contribute to literature and culture?
There was a time 12 to 15 years ago when I searched for schools to invite me to show them what I could do. Now I get a minimum of 4 calls a day asking me to be a part of school and literature festivals. From May to November last year, I was in 7 festivals. So what HLF is doing is fantastic and I hope it continues. It is really nice that writing is considered cool.