Tag Archives: Harper Lee

Interview with Dr. Vivek Banerjee

Dr. Vivek Banerjee, the author of ‘The Long Road’ is a self-confessed “full time pediatrician (by choice) and part time author (by chance)”. Also known by his pen name Ben, for his blogs earlier, Vivek shares snippets of his writing career with us. Read on.

Could you share with us your earliest memories of writing? What got you blogging and finally writing a fictional tale?
The earliest memories in writing are contributing to my school magazine and later editing it. Blogging started as an experiment and then became an addiction. Rediff iLand (the earlier and hugely successful avatar of now moribund Rediff Blogs) provided the proverbial fuel to the fire. The Long Road started as a serial story called Doctors on Rediff iLand. It was hugely popular and my fellow bloggers got more and more involved as the story progressed. Eventually, the idea of presenting it as a full-fledged novel came to me and I decided to take the plunge.

What kinds of books grab your attention?
I love fiction. From adventure to science fiction; thrillers to classics and novels to short stories, I love them all.

How was the experience of writing a novel, given the fact that your profession barely leaves you time for other activities? What inspired you to come out with a full length novel?
Agreed! There is hardly any leisure. This novel and all my writing is generally done deep in the night. Many a time, I have to attend calls at odd hours and find it difficult to sleep after returning.  The only option left is to pick up the laptop and start typing.


Any character from the novel that reflects or resonates with the real you?

No, I don’t think so. I do wish that I could be like Prof. Patil from the book.

The language used is quite simple and coming from a highly specialized industry, one tends to use the jargon of the field. How easy or difficult was it writing a book based around your profession?
It was very simple to write a book based on my profession and many parts of the book are inspired from real life happenings. I did make a conscious effort to avoid medical jargon or get too technical. I hope that I have succeeded in this aspect.


Would you like to share a memorable incident that happened during the writing process? Or an instance that clicked the writer in you (while at work), wherein you felt that the incident would make for an interesting mention in the book?
Considering the fact that I joined Medical College in 1983, I had a rich reserve of memories and experiences to draw from while writing the novel. But one repetitive incident that causes me a lot of anguish and finds a mention in the book is our inability to prevent very sick children from dying despite best efforts.

An ebook or a hardcover– your pick? and Why?
I guess I am traditional in this matter. I am a huge fan of printed books. If you visit my home, you’ll find a lot of books everywhere. E-books are not for me.

Name some your all time favorite reads.
To kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is an all time favorite.
I am partial to almost all the books by Isaac Asimov, Wilbur Smith and Jack Higgins and have read them multiple times.

A Quote that inspires you – in personal life / professional life.
This too, shall pass…


A book/author in the recent past that has captured your interest?
Anish Sarkar’s Benaami and the Urban Shots series.

Any other genre that you’d like to explore now? What next do we see from your desk?
I am writing short stories. In fact, there are two projects in the pipeline. One is a collection of stories about the paranormal in collaboration with Faraaz Kazi. An anthology of stories about the darker side of human nature is the other project. Upneet Grover, Saksham Agarwal, Amit Kumar Gupta, Anandita Chawla and I team up for this one.

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Interview With Adithi And Chatura Rao

The launch of Growing Up In Pandupur in Mumbai gave us a chance to interact with two very versatile and creative authors – Adithi and Chatura Rao.

Growing Up In Pandupur is a marvelous collection of 13 short stories for children. And parents alike.

The writing is mature and stable, but at no place does it feel commanding or overbearing. So kids will have no difficulty breezing through the stories.

Talking to the author-sisters would really make you feel as if you are talking to a friend…a mature, responsible and a really caring friend, who will always guide you through difficult times.

Yes, the book in a way brings to light certain topics/issues that kids face but are unable to communicate with their folks. The book comes as a friend and a guide to not just children, but parents too.
Well, the sisters are good at hearing you out as well. No wonder kids and parents wouldn’t leave a chance to strike a conversation with them, at the launch. Their observation and insight to finer things, usually overlooked by most, is admirable.
I got a chance to interview the sisters and here’s a bit of the conversation:

How did you chance upon the title of the book?
There is actually a small town by the name of Pandavpur between Bangalore and Mysore. We passed through it many a times and it is quite scenic. While we were penning out the stories, we modified the name to Pandupur.

How did you think of writing a short story collection for kids?
Between us sisters we have three kids. And we discuss every issue our children are facing or undergoing. There are a lot more challenges you face as a parent. There are times when kids cannot really express what they feel, and this (writing stories of different themes that revolve around kids) was a way of connecting with them.
We already had a few stories around the theme of growing up, and we added a few more to complete the book.

Broadly, what would you say are the diverse topics the stories touch upon?
From sibling love-rivalry, to the loss of a family member, to child sexual abuse, to growing up –most of the stories cater to topics any child can relate to. For that matter, any parent can relate to.

Amongst the stories in this book, which ones are your favorites?
Grandfathers and Trees
Sister’s Song
The River Came Home
The House Painted Blue

Could you name a few of your favorite books?
Chatura: I like fantasy-science fiction work by Ursula K. le Guin, novels by Toni Morrison and John Steinbeck.
In children’s fiction, The Bridge To Terabithia, the Earthsea novels by Ursula K. le GuinJ.R.R Tolkien’s ‘Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’Ruskin Bond and R K Narayan, and Winnie the Pooh, and Huckleberry Finn.
Adithi: I like the work of Harper Lee (To Kill A Mocking Bird). Her ability to get into the psyche of a child is commendable. I also like R.K. Narayan’s  Malgudi Days and The Christmas Miracle by Jonathan Toomey.


What were your growing up days like?
Charuta: We had a typical middle-class childhood. Grew up in south India, moving between Chennai and Bangalore. Played a lot with large groups of kids. Cycled, went for music classes, stole mangoes, befriended stray dogs and adopted their puppies, ran a book library from a friend’s garage, spied on crabby old neighbours, got together and put up plays and dances at Christmas in our grandfather’s garden…
Adithi: Pretty much as Chatu described it! Bangalore was my Pandupur, complete with the magician grandpa and a grandmother who was never too tired to read, cook, feed, sing, play, talk or listen when it came to me…

Would you share an incident (from childhood) that has stayed with you till date?
Chatura: I used to be petrified of having my nails snipped by my grandfather. He was an ex-armyman and believed in crew cuts! So I’d hide around the house, sneak around quietly, until inevitable he’d shout for me, and then i’d go to him like a lamb to slaughter! I remember the undersides of beds and tables a lot because i was often playing behind/ under them with my dolls, and also hiding from people. One time my sister got an injection and while she yelled, i hid behind the bed and cried too 🙂
Adithi: “About Grandfathers and Trees” pretty much tells of my most poignant childhood memory.


What next do we see from you – individually and / or together?

Chatura: I’m working on a collection of stories for adults in the style of magic realism. Nothing being co-written with Adithi right now.
Adithi: Together we haven’t planned anything yet, although we’d love to do a “Pandupur Too”! Individually I’m sure Chatu will come out with a book. As for me, it has to be a film or I’ll burst!


If there was one advice you could give parents today, what would it be?

Chatura: Listen to the kids.
Adithi: That if it’s happening with your kid it is probably happening with lots of others as well, so it can’t be that bad. Let it pass with a sense of humour, things do have a way of working themselves out. This is advice for myself as well as for parents out there… I too forget, more often than not.
Psst: For people who still haven’t picked up a copy of Growing Up In Pandupur, “fie fie!”
Get it here!

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