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Writing for children not easy: Ruskin Bond

New Delhi: Writing for children is not an easy task as one has to get their attention from the first page itself, said legendary author Ruskin Bond. Delivering the annual Penguin lecture in the capital On Monday evening, the 81-year-old also shared memories spanning 65 years of his writing of beautiful mountains, unrequited love, ghosts and more.

“Writing for children is not an easy task. You have to get their attention in page one itself or they will keep away the book. You got to tell the story, “said Bond adding that he started writing specifically writing for children only at the age of 40. However, the writer, who has more than 150 titles to his credit, said that he enjoyed writing for both adults and children.

Littered with his trademark wit, the lecture titled ‘The joy of writing’ was lapped up by hundreds of Ruskin Bond fans who turned up at the Stein auditorium at India Habitat centre. As the auditorium couldn’t accommodate the overflowing audience, the organizers had to arrange LCD screens outside the venue.

According to Bond, writing in India has come of age so as the publishing scene. “Publishing in India has come of age and writing too. I would say that publishers are giving good royalties. Good writers needn’t go abroad to get published anymore. People can make a living out of writing,” said the Kasauli born writer who has settled in Mussoorie.

Admitting that he is a lazy writer, Bond said, “I don’t work very hard. I take many naps a day,” he laughed. Sharing tips to become a good writer, Bond advised aspiring writers that only an avid reader can turn in a good book. “A writer’s job is to create magic. Books will give us not just pleasure but companionship too. The other day, when I ran out of books, I picked up an Oxford dictionary and I found myself reading it page by page,” said the author who has won multiple awards, including the Sahitya Akademi Award for English writing in India and the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Shri – India’s third and fourth highest civilian honours.

Some of his books which made their way to Bollywood are “The Blue Umbrella” (of the same title), “A Flight of Pigeons (“Junoon”) and Susanna’s Seven Husbands (“Saat Khoon Maaf”).

“I played a cameo role in Saat Khoon Maaf directed by Vishal Bharadwaj. I was clumsy and they had to go for seven takes in the scene where I give a fatherly peck on Priyanka Chopra’s cheeks. Then Bharadwaj said that I was doing it deliberately”, Bond laughed.

Talking about his autobiography, he said that it is still in the process. “The autobiography might take some time. One has to stick to truth while writing it. Most of the times, you have the tendency to go off the track, but you have to pull yourself in,” said the author who weaves magic with his pen. Rusty (as he is fondly called), has no intention to grow up, he said. “When people ask me this question, I tell them that maybe after my 15th or 16th birthday!” as his latest Rusty adventure titled, “Rusty and the Magic Mountain” has been released recently.

Ghoulish characters may be lurking around the corner of his cottage in Landour, but the author says his ghosts are friendly. “You can see ghosts anywhere if you want to. My ghosts are friendly. I keep seeing them, but I don’t believe them. A girl once asked me to make my ghosts scarier. When you see some of the horror shows on TV, my ghost stories are not at all scary” he said.

And the author also revealed that writing is the biggest source of joy in life. “I enjoy being an author and writing stories, probably because that is what I have been doing the best, besides playing football. Except that at 81, I can still write but not football,” he signed off. (IANS)

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