Malory Towers with a touch of Dahl

Payal Kapadia’s Horrid High series is set in a boarding school from hell with psychotic teachers

April 07, 2016 05:36 pm | Updated 07:18 pm IST - BENGALURU

Author Payal Kapadia  Photo : Sudhakara Jain

Author Payal Kapadia Photo : Sudhakara Jain

In most school novels, you have boarding schools set in castles, filled with helpful teachers, great friends and superb food. Children spend most of their time solving mysteries or discovering fantastic beasts. Journalist-turned-author Payal Kapadia’s Horrid High series is set in a boarding school from hell, where students are abandoned by their parents and have to deal with crazy teachers and psychotic principals. In Bengaluru for the launch, Payal says, “The story is funny and turns the classic school story concept inside out. It’s not the children who are horrid, but the grown-ups. Children enjoy reading books with evil grown-ups.”

The author says, “It takes a peek into a child’s search for his identity, the yearning for family and friends. Most of these situations are faced by young children everywhere.”

From childhood, Payal was keen on writing books. “When I got out of school, I opted for a Master’s degree in journalism from North Western University in Chicago. After a stint at Outlook magazine in India, I went to Tokyo, where I worked as an editor on the Arts desk at The Japan Times for three years. I launched a fortnightly book-review column, targeted at young readers. I read many books for my columns, and that is when it struck me that children’s writing had changed so dramatically. Having two children of my own made it easier to see the world again from a child’s point of view and that was when I decided to start working on a book for children.”

Writing for children, Payal says is not very different from writing for adults. “You have the freedom to be imaginative and honest. Children are smart and sophisticated and have no obligation to be polite. You have to keep them riveted. I also use a lot of word play, double-entendre and observations.”

About her writing schedule, Payal says, “I try to write in the morning and early afternoon. Every day is different. Some days, I plod through a few pages, while on others, I can write upwards of 5000 words.”

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