Creating a world of fantasies for young adults
After a long pursuit for the right calling, an investment banker realises what she was made for a creative writer When multiplied by her wanderlust...
After a long pursuit for the right calling, an investment banker realises what she was made for – a creative writer. When multiplied by her wanderlust and love for young adult fantasies, the metamorphosis begins. She turns out to be much-loved and most sought-after novelist – that is Mumbai-based travel writer and novelist Reshma Krishnan for you.
The co-founder of the popular literary blog ‘The Caterpillar Café’ which showcases novels, poetry and literary events, Reshma Krishnan is already a hot favourite of young readers across the country.
After completing her schooling at Brigidine School, Windsor, she graduated with Honours in International Management from Oxford Brookes University). She is also an alumnus of the Indian School of Business and an HSBC Scholar.
In her recent work ‘The Hidden Children: The Lost Grimoire’, Reshma talks about how there are external and internal solutions to personal insecurities and also focuses on a girl’s journey in finding the extraordinary in the ordinary life. “The ‘feel’ of the story came to my dream. It was so vivid that I knew it was fantasy instantly. I love the genre and wanted to share my love of fantasy with my daughter that got me thinking.
None of those existing fictions reflected the world she lives in. Be it Narnia, Harry Potter or Alice in Wonderland, the protagonists are white, blonde and foreign. There does not transport our young adults to wonderful places that are their own. I also wanted a deeper understanding of magic and wanted to create my own mythology. I always thought of magic as darkly wonderful, fragile and vicious at the same time and ‘butterflies’ were a great metaphor for young minds. So, I began to research for potential answers to my questions,” shares Reshma Krishnan.
A teacher and writer, she teaches Investment Banking and conducts creative writing classes for children and young adults. Reshma says, “Growing up though, I never wanted to be a writer. I was very focused on finance and wanted to be an Investment Banker even though my first real job was as a ‘Financial Research Analyst’ for a newspaper.
After that, I spent the next 10 years or so in Investment Banking. Eventually, about five years ago, I found out that the job didn’t suit me. To distract myself from my quarter life crisis, I began writing small travel articles because I was travelling a lot, both for business and leisure, and I found my style leaned towards storytelling. I began to write fiction and that led to the first few chapters of ‘Fade into Red,’ my first novel published by Penguin Random House in 2014,” she says.
She has three books in the series ‘The Hidden Children’. She says, “I plan to write more around the world I have created. The world of Witana and magic but explore other parts of it once this story is done.”
About the young adult fiction fantasy, she says, “For instance, when I do my creative writing workshops for young adults, I ask them to build a story using their graphic organisers, these worksheets we use to build stories. Inevitably, their characters are usually called ‘Becca’ or ‘William.’
They live in places like Chicago, London or New York and they are almost always white, go to proms and have yard sales. This is because they, like me, are growing up on a diet of western young adult fiction starting with fairy tales to Enid Blyton, then Harry Potter, and finally Veronica Roth, Twilight, etc. In fantasy, they will read Rebecca Hartman or Sarah J Maas. There’s nothing in India that competes with this. We have no books that cater to this market and what I wanted to do was contextualise young adult fantasy fiction to represent our youth, our influences and our issues.”
What do you think is the future of writing and reading? “Well, I have been to five literary festivals in the last six weeks including Hyderabad Literary Festival and the crowds show me that reading is very much alive, and it does have a lot more competition now. What I do say to parents is this, ‘your child will read if you read. The more you read, the more they will read. The more time you spend on your device, the more they will.’ So, the future of reading and writing pretty much depends on us and what we want that future to be.”
She advises the aspiring writers, “Don’t get into it if you’re trying to make it big because it’s much too hard to do if you don’t truly love it. But if you love it and work hard at it, you will inevitably do well because it will show in your work. You also need to address what ‘big’ means and develop your own measures of success because if it’s money and fame, then you’ve chosen the wrong profession.”