Payal Kapadia first began writing Wisha Wozzariter in 2005, on maternity leave from her former job at Outlook magazine. It was only last year that she was able to finish the tale of 10-year-old Wisha who wants to be a writer, cleverly incorporating the delay into the book . With the help of an intrepid Bookworm, Wisha sets out to collect the elements she needs to write a story. She hops onto the Thought Express, hurtles through to the Marketplace of Ideas, buys a bottle of Inspiration and bites into a Truth Sandwich. Kapadia’s second book, illustrated by Roger Dahl, is sharp and funny, giving physical form to ingredients that go into crafting a story, such as the big black Writer’s Block. Excerpts from an interview with Kapadia.
What made you want to write Wisha Wozzariter?
I had just given birth to my first daughter and was not working then. I started to explore an idea I had had since I was a child: to be a writer. So there I was sitting in front of the computer, thinking, well, I want to write but what is it that I should write about? And this girl [Wisha Wozzariter] just cropped up in my head. The book is autobiographical. I had wanted to write since I was in school and could relate to a character who didn’t want anything more dearly.
What was the process like?
With the first half, I didn’t go through redrafts because I wasn’t writing for publication then. I got stuck halfway through and abandoned the book. Then I got busy with child-raising and forgot about it. Last year, I had sent Penguin a manuscript of something else I had written and they told me the subject matter wouldn’t go very well with what they had planned. They asked if there was anything else I had written. I looked up my word documents and found this forgotten manuscript. Half a manuscript actually. I sent it to them and they loved it. That got me energised and I started feeling that perhaps this does have a future. They asked me if I could send the second half. So seven years, after having become a slightly different person, [I went back to] the mood of that first half and wrote the other half as though it was written in one go.
What do you hope young readers take away from this book?
It doesn’t have any message as such. I mean, I get a little scared [about] writing books that have an overt message. I think the main point of any book is to get readers to read it and enjoy it. [It is] for kids who grow up with an active imagination, with a love for writing and books, to tell them that yes, you can write and you don’t need to doubt yourself. Even the doubt, when it’s there, is part of the territory. That the process can be an adventure, that the journey can be an adventure.
Wisha Wozzariter, Puffin Books, R125. Ages 8+
By Mithila Phadke on July 06 2012 7.14am