Ketaki Karnik Talks To JWB About Her Debut Children’s Mystery Book
- IWB Post
- December 11, 2015
What do children’s books usually contain? I’d say talking puppies, animated zoo animals, friendly trains, stick figures, and oodles of magic! But what about rogue spies, Chinese daggers, alien monsters, cars, and gripping mysterious events?
Meet Ketaki Karnik, who is revolutionizing the pre-teens books’ industry, through her mind-boggling, and amazingly interesting debut novel “The Case of the Chinese Mastermind”. A Masters in Business Administration from the University of Oxford tried to keep her away from pursuing her ardor for writing, but fortunately, failed!
Our super cool writer recently visited Jaipur to attend the “Kahaani festival”, held at Jayshree Periwal International School. JWB indulges in an exciting, exclusive interview with her:
JWB: Although armed with an MBA, you’ve chosen to become a children’s author. How did that happen?
Ketaki: It might come as a surprise, but I didn’t choose to become a writer. I grew up reading fictional mysteries since I found them to be the most interesting. Before I knew it, detective crime fiction became a passion! I started creating my own plots, and I really wanted to share them with the kids. Going through school and college is a part of life, which I fervently went through. But, it was my dream to write detective fiction.
JWB: What are the various influences that shape your writing?
Ketaki: I have grown up reading and watching detective fiction. Hence, my plots can be seen as reincarnations of real life experiences, books I have read, people I have met, and so on. During the process of characterization, I tend to pick up certain unusual traits from the people I come across. So basically, I fictionalize real-life events and personalities by thoroughly exaggerating them in my novels.
JWB: Wow! That’s interesting! But, do you think the theme of your book is a little unconventional for children’s books?
Ketaki: My book “The Case of the Chinese Mastermind” is for slightly older children, who wish to explore more writing themes and experience an interesting as well as exciting side of fiction. Although there are spies and daggers, there is no gruesome violence, inappropriate language or blood in the novel. It’s just a fun, mystery novel!
The book revolves around The Crime Busters’ League, which is a gang of young detectives. The core members are comprised of Kavya, Raima, Varun and Sid, mere 14-year-olds. They have a taste for adventure and a thirst for solving mysteries.
The novel is from Kavya’s point of view since most mystery novels have a male-dominated perspective. Kavya’s character is a slap on societal stereotypes. She is a mystery lover, a science-fiction freak, and not just a fashionista who is petrified of the dark.
JWB: That’s certainly refreshing! How was your experience at the Kahaani festival?
Ketaki: Kahaani was a focused children’s book festival and I absolutely loved it! The energy, the enthusiasm, and the excitement were highly contagious. Kudos to the organizers! I tried to keep my session interactive and received a lot of creative inputs from the children. There were a lot of high-tech answers! I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it!
JWB: How was your experience at Kahaani different from that at the Jaipur Literature Fest?
Ketaki: At Kahaani, the children knew that the sessions being held were for them, and by them. I got to connect t with my readers at a different level, which every writer wishes for. JLF takes place on a very large scale, where it is slightly difficult to form a bond with your audience.
JWB: You have such intriguing novels, I’m sure every publisher must have jumped on the chance to publish you!
Ketaki: Honestly, I have encompassed a huge collection of rejection lists. Some did not even bother to reply back! It was a tough journey, but then ‘Jaico’ offered to publish my debut novel. It taught me the value of patience.
JWB: Who is your favorite author?
Ketaki: I love novels written by Agatha Cristie and those of Sherlock Holmes. They have an intellectual bent to their stories, which I absolutely love.
JWB: Any tips to develop reading habits in kids?
Ketaki: Reading habits need to be inculcated from a very young age. Parents can lead by example too, by reading books in their free time. These days, the concept of “electronic babysitting” has come into existence. It is important that you don’t distract you child by handing him mobile phones and tablets, which ultimately become a horrid habit. Instead, try to pacify them with fun books!
JWB: Lastly, what advice would you give to young, budding writers?
Ketaki: Firstly, write, write, write! Write a lot, and don’t think halfway about it being good or not. Trust me, in the end, everything comes together like magic!
And secondly, persevere. Keep writing, and never ever give up!
Ketaki, thanks for making us realize that nothing in the world should stop us from following our dreams and passions, no matter what. You are truly leading by example!
Also, I don’t care if “the Case of the Chinese Mastermind” is a children’s book, I am still going to read it!