An Interview with Priyadarshini Narendra, author of Two Chalet School Girls in India
Interview conducted by Helen Aveling, June 2006
Priyadarshini Narendra is 36 and lives in New Delhi, India with her husband and two small children. Asked about her family, Priya says:
I'm from the south of India, he is from the north. He is Muslim and I'm Hindu, which is an unusual combination in India. We are both advertising professionals and worked together for several years before we got married. We are both bibliophiles and revel in reading, writing and collecting books. Luckily our three-year-old son Aman seems to be headed the same way, and we hope our newborn daughter Alena will follow suit. I guess they can't help it, given the house is packed with books.
I asked Priya about reading the Chalet School books and their appeal for her.
On being asked whether she read them openly Priya gave me an emphatic yes, and said her favourite period in the series was the Tirol phase, ending with Exile.
I then asked what other authors does she enjoy reading? She replied:
Amongst children's books, mostly long gone authors like Noel Streatfeild, Edith Nesbit, C.S.Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder, L.M.Montgomery, Maud Hart Lovelace etc.
I asked about her the appeal in reading books in India about a boarding school in a British culture that is long gone.
The characters are still relevant and very alive. One can relate to them as girls growing up regardless of the exact time and place setting. Plus in many ways, school life in India is – or was, when I was in school, run along very British lines.
I asked her when, and why, did she first think about writing a fill-in Chalet School book?
I discovered the Chalet fill-ins about seven years ago on Amazon, but it never occurred to me to write one myself. Then about two years ago one of my friends wrote a book - about working and romance in India - and she had never been someone into writing. That gave me the much-needed boost to start trying my hand at writing since I had always dreamt of becoming an author. I made two or three beginnings but the one that seemed to flow the most easily, with a life of its own was the Chalet School one.
What made you pick this gap in the series, and why did you pick the title Two Chalet School Girls in India?
From the time I read Summer Term, I had always wondered what adventures Joey had had in India. The hints of what she did in The Coming of Age were also tantalizing. And given that I'm Indian and from somewhere near Coorg by origin, it just seemed logical.
How hard was it to write the book, and how long did it take?
The bulk of the book flowed fairly easily whenever I did sit down to write. The difficulty was in finding the time to write, since I work and had a one-and-a-half-year-old waiting for my attention at home. Most of the writing was done in the "wee small hours", as a result. What was also difficult was to resist the urge to rewrite or edit what was already written rather than writing the new chapters. It finally took close to a year, from sending my first chapter and outline to Ju in November 2004 to sending her the complete book in 2005 October or so.
How much research did you have to do for the Indian part of the book and how much research was needed to pick up threads and E.B-D 'facts' in terms of consistency with Elinor Brent-Dyer's own books?
How did you find Bettany Press and what was Ju's reaction to your manuscript?
I had bought a copy of the reprinted Jean of Storms from where I found out about Bettany Press. I Googled "Bettany Press" when I was ready to send in my first chapter and got the email address. Ju was very positive from the beginning and I was on a high from getting a green light so early into the book's writing.
Finally, are there any plans to write another fill-in Chalet School book?
Not at the moment, though you can never tell when inspiration will strike.
Two Chalet School Girls in India will be published by Bettany Press in autumn 2006, price £14.99 including p&p in the UK. Click here to pre-order your copy via email; you will be invoiced on delivery. See the Ordering page for details of postage outside the UK.
|Dr Ju Gosling aka ju90's ABNORMAL: How Britain became body dysphoric and the key to a cure is available now for just £3.09 for the Kindle or in a limited-edition hardback with full-colour art plates for £20 inc UK postage and packing.|