Made in India
Name : RAMENDRA KUMAR
Academics: B.E., MBA
Hobbies: Writing, storytelling, public speaking & dancing (contemporary)
1. Your journey as an author...
Ever since I can remember I always wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first poem when I was in class III. I took up writing quite seriously in college and started with satire and poetry.
When my daughter Ankita was four my son Aniket happened. My wife Madhavi’s hands were rather full taking care of the new born.
“You write satire and poetry don’t you? Then why can’t you tell Ankita stories and put her to sleep, while I concentrate on Aniket,” Madhavi told me one day. To her, shifting from satire/poetry to children’s fiction was as simple as moving from the realm of the boiled to the planet of the poached egg.
Anyways, I seriously took up her advice and started thinking up little tales to tell my precious one. I don’t know whether she liked the plot more or my antics, but she lapped up my stories and my confidence increased. Soon it became a tradition which continued even after Aniket, grew up and doubled the size of my audience. The stories liked by my kids found their way to the laptop and from there to the publisher’s desk.
Over the last few years I have been dabbling in adult fiction as well as non-fiction. I have also now taken to blogging and my blogs related to satire, travel, relationship issues and parenting are being published regularly on various e-zines.
My journey as a writer has been a hugely fulfilling one. My readership comprises 5 to 80 year olds. I have written in almost all genres and though commercial success has not really caressed me, I have won the love and approval of the young and the young at heart.
2. What motivates you to write and just keep writing?
Writing to me is an Obsessive, Compulsive Disorder.
3. What do you think about Indian publishing industry?
The Indian publishing industry is vibrant. However, one thing which troubles me is the sprouting of vanity publishers. They have turned a book into a product and often they end up compromising on quality. Another worrying aspect is that today it is not the content but marketing which is the king. Many publishers want the writers to create ‘made to order’ scripts in sync with the demands of the customers (readers). And there are quite a few writers who oblige. In this process any genre/theme which is considered trendy immediately has its clones coming out like maggots. The best example is the spate of fantasies in the wake of the Harry Potter phenomenon.
4. What are your views on online readership?
The future belongs to e-publishing. Digitalisation offers greater speed and visibility. At the touch of a button you can reach out to the entire planet in a cost effective manner. Initiatives by publishers like Pratham, with their Story Weaver Campaign (https://storyweaver.org.in/campaign) are doing a wonderful job in this field.
However, digitalisation doesn’t mean that print publications will die. They will continue to occupy their niche space but will have to relentlessly reinvent themselves to remain relevant in today’s rapidly changing universe.
5. For a writer, how important it is to be a good reader?
Extremely important. Reading informs, inspires and enlightens. Any one aspiring to be a good writer has to make reading a habit.
6. Tell us about your book/s.
Thirty books written by me have so far been published and translated into twelve Indian & nine foreign languages and have found a place in school text books as well as anthologies both in India and abroad. Most of them are for children ranging from pre-school readers to young adults.
Children’s fiction penned by me has received a very encouraging response. One of my stories has been included in the text book for class nine students of Norway and another fable has been adapted as Kamishibai, the traditional form of storytelling in Japan. Six books have been recommended by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), as Supplementary Readers. One of my Read Aloud books Paplu The Giant was selected to mark the International Literacy Day in September, 2013. More than 1000 story telling sessions were held in 25 languages across the country as well as abroad. My latest book for children A Perfect Match has been picked up by Andhra Pradesh government for placement in 11,200 schools in all the districts of the State.
Mohini was my first book for adults. Writing it was a challenge since I had all along focussed mainly on children’s fiction. Mohini is a romantic thriller based on the Hindi film industry. I have always been hugely fascinated by Bollywood – both its on screen as well as off screen avatars. Thus it was quite natural that whenever I would decide to write a novel for adults it would be on films and film stars. It was an instant hit and went into its second edition in the very first week of its publication.
Effective Parenting: A New Paradigm, my maiden book of non-fiction, was inspired by Madhavi. She felt that most of the books are serious tomes written by psychologists, pedagogues or paediatricians. Their tone is highly pedantic. She wanted me to write a book on parenting which would offer hands on tips, be fun to read and easy to practice.
The book is based on ideas culled from my own experiences as a child from a broken home, my observations as a writer for children and my own struggles as a parent. It is a framework offering only gentle suggestions, hints and thoughts which would hopefully serve the mum/dad as unobtrusive guides as he/she journeys across the tough terrain of Parenting. An added feature in the book is a basket of poems, stories and anecdotes.
The book I found the toughest to write was released earlier this year. It is titled And the Jhelum Flows and its protagonist is Kashmir. It goes beyond the binary division of black and white in which the Kashmir issue is usually depicted and instead shows the various shades of grey in between. And the Jhelum Flows . . . weaves together several narratives to create a portrait of a land marked by hatred, fear, violence, and suspicion, where despite all the pain and sorrow, there is yet optimism and hope for a better tomorrow.
My latest book, The Siege of Cricket is a fast paced adventure centred on the rather volatile issue of match-fixing in cricket. Aimed at teens, it has dollops of intrigue, mystery, adventure and humour. But the story goes beyond the racy elements of fiction to touch upon values of camaraderie, courage, conviction, and finally a commitment to a credo and a cause.
7. A message for the writer's community...
I would like to tell every writer, aspiring or otherwise: Don’t write for money, don’t write for fame. Write for the love of writing; write for the joy of creating. Write words which are enduring, endearing and eternal. Your writing may not make you rich, it may not make you famous, it may not even make you popular but if your words can lighten someone’s burden with a ray of happiness then you can take pride in a job well done.