“I never do anything that I don’t enjoy”

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How do you prefer to write? Has technology made writing any easier?

(laughs) I think I am the last man standing.

I think I’m from the 18th century, not even the 19th. I don’t even use a typewriter. I prefer longhand and that’s how I submit my manuscripts to my publishers. They’re kind enough to transcribe my works and send me printouts.

In fact, I don’t even use a fountain pen; it’s too messy. I just use a regular ball point pen.

Your books for children have never been dumbed down. Is that a conscious effort?

Not really. I’ve never written specifically for children as such. I write to please myself and if it is suitable, it gets printed as a children’s book. I don’t consciously simplify my works, nor do I write down to kids. I do however, stay away from topics like adult sex.

Have you ever faced a writer’s block?

Very rarely. I won’t usually just sit down to write. I’d have done it in my head already.

I visualise a story just like a film strip running in my head. I guess that is also a reason why my books have such a visual element to them. And it’s what I tell young writers: plan your story ahead.

You’ve also curated some books?

Yes, I did one curation for Penguin Love Among Bookshelves.

They are a collection of stories that I grew up on. It was rather well received and I am currently working on a sequel.

What do you think of the books that we see today?

Well, fashions change and tastes change as well. Usually the sort of books that top the bestseller lists are written to meet the demands of the reading public at the time.

I don’t look down on popular literature, but it’s stuff that comes and goes.

A lot of people end up trying to do the same thing; it gets monotonous.

What are you currently reading?

On my desk right now is the Oxford Dictionary (laughing). I’m always looking for new words and their origins because I am always running short of words. There’s also a book of photographs by Prabhudas Gupta.

Then there’s a Namita Gokhale book that has just come in the mail — Things to Leave Behind . A detective novel from Canada that I’m reading as well. And of course, The History of Mr Polly by H.G. Wells that I am reading again after 40 years. It’s a really funny book and I love revisiting old favourites.

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