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Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Author Interview : Khyrunnisa A, author of 'The Misadventures of Butterfingers'

Khyrunnisa A
Read up, Interview with Khyrunnisa A, author of ‘The Misadventures of Butterfingers’. A book, with parts, which I have missed. :) But, she gives us answers for everything I have missed and why!

She tells us, how the entire book came about, how she relates the lives of her characters to lives today, how the lead character, Amar came about, how she relates the lives of the characters to lives today, the most challenging part of the book, the next book she has planned  and much more, Folks…

How did 'The Misadventures of Butterfingers' happen? Could you describe the journey?

I created the character Butterfingers for the children’s magazine, Tinkle and very soon the character became very popular. Every Butterfingers story that I wrote was lengthy – close to 2,000 words, sometimes more.
It was then scripted by the script writer who passed it on to the illustrator before it appeared in the comic strip version. Often, this long story of mine got reduced to 8 or 10 pages of comic strip. Initially, I was heartbroken by this reduction but very soon understood the comic version’s requirements.

The idea grew in my head that I should consider getting the original stories published later. So, I decided not to compromise on my writing style and continued to pen lengthy stories.

When I felt there were enough stories for a collection, I approached Penguin (Puffin). They liked the concept but requested a novel based on these characters (As you worded it in a later question, ‘Publishers do not prefer short stories.’ But I fail to understand why).  That’s how ‘Howzzat Butterfingers’ came to be written and was published.

It was followed by two other novels, ‘Goal, Butterfingers!’ and ‘Clean Bowled, Butterfingers!’ I once again approached my publishers with the short stories and this time, they agreed to publish them. The result? ‘The Misadventures of Butterfingers’. There are 14 stories in the collection, 13 of them have already appeared in the comic strip version. 

The first story, a very long 65 page novella titled ‘Ghosts at Green Park School,’ is original for I wished to offer something completely new to the readers.

How did the story, especially Amar’s, come about?

The first story I wrote for Tinkle was an entry for the Tinkle Original Short Story Competition for adult writers of children’s fiction. The story was ‘Butterfingers,’ and it won a second prize.

For seven consecutive years after that, I won the first prize in the competition, but though I created different characters in the stories, Butterfingers remained the family favourite. So, when Tinkle asked me to create a regular character for the magazine, I unhesitatingly decided on Butterfingers. The only change I made was to change the original name of Butterfingers from Mukesh to Amar, the name of my son.

What according to you is different about your book?

My earlier novels were humorous sports-based novels, but ‘The Misadventures of Butterfingers’ is a collection of laugh-out-loud short stories with diverse themes that one can easily relate to.

Humour and fun are common to all the stories and unlike most books today that have horror, fantasy, mythology or magic in them, mine are cheerfully realistic, fun-filled stories centering around a bumbling but endearing, well-intentioned but disaster-prone hero and those close to him. My aim in 
writing is to make children laugh and enjoy the stories.

How would you relate the lives of characters to the lives today? Any similarities?

I think children can easily identify with the characters; that’s what children tell me at inter-active sessions. 

Children and grown-ups find it very easy to relate to Butterfingers – there is a butterfingers in all of us. I am a Butterfingers, anyway :)

What was the most challenging part about writing this book?

The first story where I brought Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes together in a totally crazy play put up by Amar, Kishore and their friends – ‘The Play is the Thing: The Case of Hambeth, Prince of Venice.’ – was quite challenging to write.

Who was it that told you that you could become the author you are today?

Quite a few people – my professors, friends and students - had faith in my abilities as a writer and were very encouraging.

At the top of the list, are my husband and my son who were especially encouraging and continue to be so. It does wonders to my morale. 

When will you next book be out?

In April 2017. It is another collection of Butterfingers stories.

Which book are you currently reading?

I am reading two books now, Rudraneil Sengupta’s ‘Enter the Dangal : Travels Through India’s Wrestling Landscape’ and Paul Verhaeghe’s ‘What About Me? The Struggle for Identity in a Market-based Society’.

Who are your favourite authors and why?

Bill Bryson from Wikipedia
PG Wodehouse from Wikipedia
My all-time favourite writer is PG Wodehouse. I absolutely love his books for they are so much fun to read. I love the language-based humour and the farcical, hilarious situations he creates so effortlessly. I admire his plots that are so masterfully knit together and of course, the wonderfully absurd characters who people his world.

I also love Bill Bryson’s books for the humorous manner in which he relates his travel experiences. His books are a lesson in travel writing.  

What else do you do on a daily basis?

Other than reading and writing?  The usual stuff – cook, clean, take care of my family and home :). I spend quite a lot of time working at the computer. No TV watching or whatsapping for me. 

You can  Read the Review, right here and Buy the Book, here too.
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