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Friday, November 10, 2017

Author Interview : Neha Singh, author of ‘Moongphali’

Neha Singh
Read up, the Interview with Neha Singh, one of the authors of 'Moongphali'. In this interview, she tells us, how the entire book first began, what according to her was different about the book, the most challenging part of the stories, what she thought was different about her book, which particular story, she felt most close to, her favourite authors and books, what she does on a daily basis, and much, much more, Folks…

How did 'Moongphali' happen? Could you describe the journey?

It was a two year long journey. Mukesh Chhabra and I have been colleagues and friends for many years and have worked extensively with children.

Mukesh came up with this idea of writing a book of stories for children together and we met on and off over two years to brainstorm and write our stories. 

What according to you was different about your book?

It deals with very realistic, relatable themes for Indian children. It does not shy away from the realities of living in India where class, caste, privilege, lack of education, religion and gender are still glaring issues. Children witness these things on a daily basis, but seldom do children’s books talk about these things.

Moongphali’ weaves these everyday realities of life in India in all its stories, while maintaining the fun and adventure elements too, making it an unusual and unique book.

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

Yes, absolutely. The children in the stories are not all black or white, but just as human as the readers. They have their virtues, their faults, fears, desires, prejudices, dreams and a sense of mischief. The characters in the stories face situations that the readers might face in real life, and have to make choices that will affect not just them but also those around them. 

The characters in the stories hail from different parts of India, some are urban, some rural, some from the South of India, some from the West, some privileged, some underprivileged. It’s a mixed bag that everyone will connect with.

What was the most challenging part about writing this book?

Balancing the fun and quirk with subtle messages, while keeping the stories firmly grounded in reality. We steered clear of fantasy, and stuck to everyday themes.

Which particular character did you feel most close to? Why?

I feel closest to Lalita in ‘Lalita’s gift’ because she chooses a gift over her friends, since the gift is new and shiny and she feels her friends will spoil it.

But she slowly realizes it is no fun playing with a gift all alone. This has happened to me as a child, when I was gifted a Barbie doll and I refused to share it with my friends. Soon enough, I realised that playing with a doll all by myself was so boring!

Enid Blyton
Agatha Christie
Who was it that told you that you could become the author you are today?

No one. It was all the wonderful authors, I read as a child, like Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, RK Narayan, Agatha Christie, etc that inspired me to write for children.

When will you next book be out?

My next book, which is being published by Puffin, should be out by March, 2018.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Who are your favourite authors and why?

This is a very difficult question, because I have so many favourite authors and there are a million reasons why.

But if I have to pick a couple I would say Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Vijaydan Detha, and both for the same reason. 

Because they told stories of their own countries, neighbourhoods and people, making thbriaeir tales so visceral, believable and magical at the same time. Incidentally, both were nominated for the Nobel Prize in the same year, 1982!

Which are your favourite books and why?

Again, so so many! Some are, ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, ‘Alice's Adventures in Wonderland’, ‘The God of Small Things’, ‘Swami and Friends’, ‘Dohri Zindagi’ and ‘Deewar Mein Khidki Rehti Hai’ to name a few.

Which books are you currently reading?
Amrita Pritam

I am currently re-reading Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens and reading Amrita Pritam’s autobiography ‘Raseedi Ticket’.  

What else do the both of you do on a daily basis?

I don’t do anything on a daily basis. I do something new every day. I am a theatre actor, writer, director, producer, activist, drama trainer, author and cook.

I have just returned from a six show tour of my play ‘Dohri Zindagi’ across Delhi - Gurgaon - Noida - Sonipat - Meerut. I have recently begun work on a new play as a producer/director/actor, I am writing a new book for children, and am learning how to bake! 

All the pictures in the above article are from Wikipedia.

You can Read the Review and Buy the Book, here as well.                                                                                              

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