One shouldn’t make the mistake of talking down to young readers: Author Namita Gokhale

Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi
Dec 09, 2017 11:46 AM IST

Author Namita Gokhale talks to us about her latest book Lost in Time: Ghatotkacha and the Game of Illusions, and the approach one should follow while writing for young readers.

Author Namita Gokhale’s last book — The Puffin Mahabharata — came out almost 10 years ago, but to this date, it has been one of the most engaging mythological read for young readers. Now, the author, who has written over 16 books has decided to bring back the magic of Mahabharata with a unique concept.

Author Namita Gokhale.
Author Namita Gokhale.

Her recent release, Lost in Time: Ghatotkacha and the Game of Illusions, tells the story of a young Gurgaon boy, Ghintamani Dev Gupta, who gets inexplicably transported to the days of the Mahabharata and meets Ghatotkacha and his mother, demoness Hidimba.” I started writing when I was 26, and chose to write a provocative novel called Paro: Dreams of Passion. Now at 62, I have written a fun book on time travel that is told from the point-of-view of a 14-year-old,” she says. “The book tells us how this interesting interaction teaches the boy about life, war, nature, and much more. When he returns to his own time, and tells people about his experience, they think he is mentally ill, so he decides to stop talking about them. But, the lessons of that trip remain with him.”

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The cover of author Namita Gokhale’s Lost in Time: Ghatotkacha and the Game of Illusions
The cover of author Namita Gokhale’s Lost in Time: Ghatotkacha and the Game of Illusions

The book, apart from its engaging and succint narrative also holds your attention because of its illustrations. Beautiful monochrome sketches add to the story and make the journey a visual one, something that keeps you close to its characters and plot. “Today’s generation is brighter, but they have very short attention spans, they are easily distracted, and to keep their attention I wanted the illustrations as part of the book. They help break the text and manage to keep the readers’ attention with ease. All illustrations have been done by artist Ujan Dutta, who has also done the cover illustration. I have always loved his work, and thus decided to include them,” says Gokhale.

The author also adds that she wanted to add football into the story, but didn’t know much about it and that is when she called popular football commentator Novy Kapadia. “There is a description of a football match in the story, but I wasn’t much aware of the terminology attached to it. Novy helped me out with it, since you cannot go wrong with such details, the readers catch on to it really fast,” she says. “Football also was chosen because it is another place where the things the protagonist learned during his time with Ghatotkacha comes into play.”

Gokhale also feels that when one is writing for children, they shouldn’t consider them any different. “Authors often make the mistake of talking down to them. Young readers are ahead of us these days, the world has changed and they are brighter, they know more and are more stimulated. You just need to write a narrative that relates to them and engages them.”

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    Aditya Dogra writes on art, culture and campus, for the daily Entertainment & Lifestyle supplement, HT City.

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