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The Adventures of Bozo and Chick – Ranjit Lal

The Adventures of Bozo and Chick – Ranjit Lal

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The Adventures of Bozo and Chick – Ranjit Lal

Tanya Singh

 

You’ve written over thirty-five books, fiction and nonfiction, for adults as well as children. What inspires you to keep writing? And how long does a book usually take, to produce a first draft?

Anything could set one off: a story in a newspaper, and of course using your imagination and asking, ‘well, what if’?

 

The Adventures of Bozo and Chick, as are many of your other books, is seen from the eyes of a fifteen year old boy. What is the process of shifting your narrative to that of a young boy like for you? Does it come intuitively, or do you consciously put yourself in the role of someone younger?

I usually draw out my characters first (roughly – they can change in the course of writing) and then put them all in a situation. Each will have their own take on getting out of the situation or interpreting the situation (as in Bozo and Chick). And no, happily I don’t have to downshift from ‘adult’ mode to ‘teen mode’, while writing out the characters!

 

Would you say that children today are reading less than before? Have you had any experiences that suggest otherwise?

Well, everyone is saying that – and yes there are an awful number of kids glued to their smart-phones most of the time, but schools will tell you that kids do read! Maybe not as much as we did in our time, but we had much fewer distractions.

Your writing style reveals complexities, engaging plot twists and keeps the reader turning the pages. What made you write an adventure novel?

Well, I simply asked myself in this case, what if there was this fiercely patriotic kid, who in the aftermath of the Bombay terrorist attack was faced by a situation that seemed to be eerily similar. And what if he had to choose between loyalty (here to his godparents) and his nation? How would he tackle it?

 

The Adventures of Bozo and Chick was Enid-Blytonesque for me, with the shore life, small town appeal, and adventure. Who are some of the authors you’ve grown up reading, and still turn to?

It had to be an outdoors adventure with plenty of rock climbing etc. (I have spent many happy days on the beach in Bombay years and years ago! Yes, did read Blyton (never could understand why she went into transports of delight about it being ‘a sunny day’!) Other authors include Dickens, Richmal Crompton, Alexander Dumas, Gerald Durrell, R K Narayan, Kipling (except that he made the tiger the villain), and so many others…

 

The plot twist towards the end was incredible. How do you structure a plot? Do you already know how you want the book to end, or does it make itself up on the way?

I knew roughly how the story had to end – and it dealt with another social problem, that we’re facing more and more these days (so called ‘honor killings’) so the two issues fitted in nicely!

            

About the Interviewee:

Ranjit Lal is the author of around 45 books - fiction and non-fiction - for children and
adults who are children. His abiding interest in natural history, birds, animals and insects
is reflected in many of his books: The Crow Chronicles, The Life and Times of Altu Faltu,
The Small Tigers of Shergarh; The Simians of South Block and the Yum-yum Piglets, The
Tigers of Taboo Valley, Bambi, Chops and Wag; Birds from My Window; The Birds of
Delhi; Wild City, The Trees of Medley Gardens, The Little Ninja Sparrows, Rumble in the
Jungle etc.

His book, Faces in the Water , on female infanticide, and for which he was honored by
IBBY in 2012, won the Crossword Award for Children’s Writing 2010 and the Ladli
National Media Award for Gender Sensitivity 2012.
Our Nana Was a Nutcase – on dementia and Alzheimer’s - won the Crossword Raymond
Award for Children’s Writing in 2016.

Other books with social themes include Taklu and Shroom (shortlisted for the Crossword
Award for Children’s Writing 2013), Miracles, Smitten (on child abuse in the family),
The Secret of Falcon Heights, The Dugong and the Barracudas, Bozo and Chick, The
Battle for No. 19, The Secret Palace Adventure, Bozo and Chick and Owlet, Not Out.
He was awarded the Zeiss Wildlife Lifetime Conservation Award for 2019 for writing
‘with exceptional literally skills’ on the conservation of wildlife, especially birds.
As a journalist he has had well over 2000 articles and photo-features published in the
national and international press and currently has a column – Down in Jungleland – in the
Indian Express ‘Eye’. He also writes a monthly children’s column for The Hindustan
Times called Bratpack Brief.

His other interests include photography, automobiles, reading and cooking. He lives in
Delhi.