They sip their Red Bull, flex with their Blackberry and brainstorm at Café Coffee Day. These 13-year-olds smack of the times, yet the wings of the past are never severely clipped. They take the tradition of adventure tales forward. Influences could be varied, from The Hardy Boys, The Famous Five, The Secret Seven to Nancy Drew. Adolescents hankering for adventure and ending up uncovering significant truths get a new address with the Google Gang.
The creation of authors Bubbles Sabharwal and Anjali Raghbeer, this gang of four in “The Curse of the Broken Step” from Scholastic, brings a very Indian flavour to the genre of adventure tales and gives children here a story they can identify with. Set in Delhi and Hyderabad, in the novel everything from the monuments to the streets keeps their date with the real.
The authors try to hit two birds with one shot — create in children a love for our history, while also dishing out enough action to keep them hooked. With Bubbles engaged with children's theatre for long and Anjali already having written a few children's books, it seemed natural for them to collaborate on a common passion.
“We happened to visit Purana Quila together once and then thought of bringing history alive to the young through a home-grown Enid Blyton,” says Bubbles. Books in collaboration are all about setting aside one's ego, assert the authors. “I work a lot in children's space and she also primarily works with children. There is so much to be done in the area, there is a huge vacuum. When working together, the only thing to be taken care of is there should be no ego's involved. The effort is to bring the best to the collaboration,” explains Anjali.
The duo neatly divided the chapters among them and then seamlessly blended them during their reading sessions. “When we read aloud, we sought to hear the book with the ear of the reader,” says Bubbles.
“The Curse of the Broken Step” has led the authors to contemplate a series with the four protagonists — Dhruv, Ishan, Anunya and Sehej. Since they like to place their tale in circumstances and an environment one could relate too, the writers say their next novel will be set in Mumbai. “The tale will move to Mumbai and deals with terrorism,” says Anjali.
Gradually, they plan to set their stories in other cities like Kolkata and Jaipur. With children, even when they are presumably reading a story, Bubbles says, “there is an invisible story playing out in their mind. That's where imagination takes root.”
For Bubbles and Anjali, the Google Gang is set to search for newer adventures in newer places.