Friday, January 16, 2009

The Summer of Cool - Suchitra Krishnamoorthi on her return to innocence

Over the coming week, we'll be featuring recent interviews with our latest, coolest author, Suchitra Krishnamoorthi, in which she discusses her book, The Summer of Cool, the first in the exciting new Swapnolock Society series, and other aspects of her busy life.

Here Suchitra reveals how writing The Summer of Cool was her attempt to return to innocence:

Sometime in late 2007 I decided to take a couple of months off from painting continuously for the last three years. I was exhausted and needed some refueling. My plan was to sit back and do nothing, except perhaps to read gossip magazines (even a novel seemed daunting) watch the sunset, go for a jog on the beach and spend hours at my local spa.

But I couldn't stick to my plan beyond a week, when restlessness crept in and the compulsive creative need for expression took over once again. I decided to revisit a story idea in my head that I had written a synopsis for many years ago. The story of a ten year old girl looking for her father and her trials and tribulations in that journey. As I started to write, I delved into the rich memories of my own growing years in a very interactive and involved housing society in downtown Mumbai. So, many of the characters and incidents from my childhood emerged (my friends will forgive me for using their names I hope).

There was underwear aunty and underwear uncle, jealous aunty, Haldi maami and her cola water, a khadoos uncle who hated dogs, the building bully, the beautiful confident friend from London, the upstairs boy who flirts with my didi and many more. Of course as the story evolved I found that the characters were speaking words to me that came not only from my memory, of events that had actually occurred but also from the magic of my own imagination. I heard them laugh I heard them cry, I felt the breath in their hearts as they whispered their secrets to me. The process has been fascinating and exhilarating.

What is the series about? Why the name Swapnalok Society? Is it like Harry Potter? Is it a children's book? These are the questions I am frequently asked.

Swapnalok Society is a really metaphor for urban utopia. A world in itself. A parallel universe where all the questions and answers are contained within the four walls of the housing complex. Where people are as nice as they are naughty, as comical as they are conniving, and as good as bad can be. It's a place where children run free, a place where dreams come true.

It's a series of books for children and for the child in every adult. Was "The Alchemist" a children’s book? Or "The little prince" a children’s book? I have no answer. I read them both as an adult and I continue to read them even today so maybe I'm an overgrown kid then. Dang! I hate to admit that my mother is right on that one. I also have to admit that when I was writing The Summer of Cool (the first in the Swapnalok Society series) I kept in mind that my daughter Kaveri should be able to read it in a few years time. So there are no gangsters, no whores, no swear words and no sex scenes.

The Summer of Cool was supposed to be a one off thing. I finished writing it in six weeks, and dashed if off to a friend of a friend who happened to be in the publishing world. I was delighted at the enthusiastic response I received from Sudeshna Shome Ghose, the Commissioning Editor at Penguin Books India. Not only did she love The Summer of Cool she was asking me to develop it into a series called 'Swapnalok Society' and write three more books along the same lines. The challenge was too great for me to not take it up and I must confess here that I have surprised myself. The process of writing is thrilling and more satisfying than I imagined.

The world is getting better and better.


RavishSmile said...

will definitely be buying the book!:-)

Priyanka Madhur said...

It is a fantastic book. Unputdownable. I read it from start to finish in one go. Suchitra has a very easy and conversational style of writing. She says so much but one does not feel the depth of the story or the charactors till one turns the last page