In my personal story, a writer’s fear of failing is the greatest villain, says Payal Kapadia.
Why this book? And why should a reader pick up this book?
This is about the adventure of writing, about the thrill of the creative process. It’s about the challenge of creating something from scratch. It’s imaginative, quirky and different, wise beyond its years and yet full of humour. There is nothing particularly Indian about it, its theme is universal.
What does the book mean to you?
It’s my first real children’s book — although I did write a book for Disney last year, Colonel Hathi Loses His Brigade, but there, I had to stick to Disney’s Jungle Book characters and tell a new story about them. Here, Wisha Wozzariter is completely born from my imagination. I have collaborated with a very talented American artist, Roger Dahl, to bring this to life. It is a special book, close to my heart, because I wrote it at a time when I, like Wisha, was anguished by the need to write, yet afraid and unsure that I could pull it off. The book is a giant metaphor about the journey of a writer; it’s autobiographical. I am Wisha and Wisha is me.
How difficult was it to put the book together?
It was very difficult. But all good things take time, effort and perseverance. I wrote the first half of the book six years ago, when my first daughter, Keya, was a newborn. Last year, Penguin expressed interest in the book, and suddenly I had to recapture a mood that was six years old and write the other half. It took a while to get into the rhythm again, but that time off probably gained me some perspective. When I abandoned this book six years ago, I thought I was at a dead-end. Like Wisha, I didn’t quite know how to answer the question: “What happens next?” But when I came back to the book last year, it all fell into place so beautifully and it seemed like there was no other way for the book to end.
When and where do you write?
I write at my desk overlooking the ocean and the Mumbai coastline, but I write in confusion and crisis. I have two daughters, Keya is eight and Nyla is four years old, and they keep the entire house on its toes. I try to find some peace when they are at school or playing downstairs in the garden, but it’s borrowed time I find myself working on.
Where all did this book take you?
It took me on a writer’s journey with Wisha. It became all about discovering myself through my writing, however clichéd that sounds. I confronted my fear of ever being able to write anything worthwhile and turned that into an adventure. In my personal story, a writer’s fear of failing is the greatest villain.
Can you suggest another title to this book?
The title belongs to Wisha. She has earned it and I can’t imagine it being any other way.
What’s your energy drink?
Literally, a soya-milk smoothie packed with nuts, dates and bananas — sounds yucky but tastes great without playing on your conscience. Metaphorically speaking, though, nothing energises me more than a 30-minute afternoon siesta.
What makes a book a really good read or a bestseller?
The book has to connect with you and speak to you directly. It should be an incredible read, it should transport you and it should tell you a story you haven’t heard before, in a way you haven’t ever heard it being told before.
What are you reading now?
I typically read two books at a time. So right now, I’m reading Plot And Structure by James Scott Bell to help me for my next book, and I’m hoping to start on Jennifer Egan’s The Keep.
So, what’s next?
Maybe a novel for grownups. Or the prospect of taking Wisha on another adventure.
(Compiled by Jinoy Jose P.)