As an eight-year-old, my experiences were a tad bit different than the rest of my friends. I had lost a small sister who was less than a year old and my parents had almost gotten divorced.
Being the only child, that really was a turbulent and flash speed time period for me.
My mum had taken me to Agra, where most of my days were wasted away in a blur of walks through the many parks and the ancient castles of the Mughal city.
I was not to disturb my mum because I couldn’t bring myself to ask her when I would see my father again. But then again every morning, there came this postman with a bell that I really loved for some reason.
My father had started writing to me and my grandparents would hide away those letters. I was 8, you know how much eight years know about sneaking up on people? Well, I naturally was equipped with the knowledge of every nook and corner of that god awful big villa.
So then began my reading journey. He would write me these stories filled with morals that have stuck with me to this day, as I turn 16.
I began reading out of pure boredom, I missed my friends back in Bangalore more than ever.
One of the first novels that I got my hands on in my grandpa’s library was Roald Dahl’s autobiography. It had this fancy colourful cover and book jacket.
My maternal grandparents are professors so this villa had this big room full of leather bound, tattered, books that were not at all dusty and so well kept.
A good thing is that my grandpa is a social butterfly and is never at home so this library had become my land.
I seriously did get confused when I started reading because Roald Dahl’s family tree was explained. I decided that I could definitely use help so I didn’t go to my grandpa, oh no! no, your girl, Riya, was more extra than that- I walked to the local bookstore.
Now that seems like a small thing right? Nope, the library I walked to was at least a kilometer away and I didn’t do it alone. I tricked my cousin into accompanying me. She’s a year older than I am and far less brave. With her chattering behind me of how dangerous this was, we walked into the library and learned everything about the introduction to that book. Yes, the librarian was laughing but he knew better than to be rude to Mr. Rana’s granddaughter (my grandpa is a social butterfly so everyone knows him there).
But I did get royally screwed up after my cousin confessed where we had gone to (what a wuss, am I right?).
Then I started reading his novels and by the time I started reading Matilda, my parents were back together.
Then began my obsession with Ruskin Bond poems. It was honestly embarrassing for my parents who got strange looks at family gatherings because “their kid is such a bookworm, they probably forced this onto her”.
Then I started writing in April of 2011.
What really drew me to books is that sense of realness that a novel holds in its first few pages.
A selling point in a young adult novel is how it makes me feel. There is this point that comes when you start reading a novel and it’s the same feeling that you get when you fall asleep completely. That setting of the scene really speaks about the theme of the novel ahead. Make sure you get your topic to speak there because it is the perfect time to introduce your main idea.
Next up- illustrated books! My parents are travel freaks and I kid you not- once we were in this shopping mall and my father got a call from our family friends and then legit set up this tour to Pondicherry in a ten-minute phone call while we were buying groceries. So I get my chocolates from the chocolate aisle and my parents are like we’re going to Pondicherry and we rushed through a half an hour packing (I was small so all I packed was my iPod and a Rudyard Kipling poem collection.
On this trip, I found my love for illustrated books in the magnificent Auroville. I was eleven years old at the time so my family friend’s son who’s also a year older than me was bossing me around because I wouldn’t pay attention to his alien conspiracy theories. This bookstore at the Auroville was filled with books in so many languages. Thousands of featured illustrators’ framed photos littered the walls. I ended up getting two of those books.
The beauty of literature and art is to make a person reflect. Compel a person to feel something that their soul has long forgotten. That’s what I think young adult novels should be like. More classical. Yes, smut writing has grown popular in the YA industry with the Fifty Shades saga taking over too. There are audiences for everything and there is hard work that goes into writing anything and everything so if you wish to not read novels with smut in them. About diversity- I don’t think a writer owes the reader anything other than a piece of hard work.
Yes, with people of colour taking over the young adult industry there might be people who find it irritating but then again there must be some sort of allowance. After all not the entire world is homogeneous in nature.
If you’re a white woman who likes to read about white women then I seriously don’t think anyone should have a problem unless you degrade people of colour because um that is racism, and yes it’s frowned upon in today’s world (thank god).
I think reading is a personal thing and nobody is qualified enough to question or frown upon your reading preferences. Because I can confirm that reading is something that might has helped me discover myself and in so many different ways.
My next blog post will be in April. Hope I’m catching up on writing these haha. For now, I’ve got my finals so wish me luck!