It’s a funny story of how Vibha and I got in touch. But read about the book and our chat here:
Rinki and her wolf pack (that’s how she thinks of Robin and Sudha) are back in action! And they have company. In the form of Google (Mr. Know It All. ‘If I don’t know something, chances are neither does the search engine’) and Adit (Mr. Goody Two Shoes. ‘Life is short. Study hard’). At last, Rinki has her wish. She has two boys fighting over her, er, mostly with her.
Meanwhile, Rinki’s brand new grandmother, Mausiji, is raising hell at home. Her Dad, lucky fellow, is away in Coimbatore. And it’s all up to Rinki to cool tempers down. Mom and Mausiji are always on each other’s throat. And so are Google and Adit. Aiyyo aiyyo.
At school, things are no better. Board Exams are looking large and the Princy is making her feel smaller than ever. Her grades are shrinking and her waistline is growing. Tuition classes are keeping her up at unearthly hours and the syllabus is putting her to sleep. Her gym routine is like her love life. Non-existent. For the very same reason. With all the madness, where’s the time?
School life is about to get over. But not before things get a lot more crazy. Read the next installment in the Rinki series and discover why turning seventeen is no walk in the park!
Seventeen and Done has been published under the Penguin Inked arm:
Inked is a hip new imprint from Penguin Books India with a focus on the best writing for teens and young adults.
Who is Vibha Batra?
Movies (the soppier the better). Meals (think unlimited South Indian thaalis). Mad sitcoms (compulsive viewing, season 1-100). Just a few things that make Vibha happy. In addition to mails (the gushing kinds) from readers, of course. She wants to keep writing till her last breath (or carpal tunnel sets in, whichever comes first). She wants to win an Oscar for Best Original Song. (Best Adapted Screenplay for any of her books will do just fine too). She was last sighted at a quaint café in Chennai, hunched over the laptop, writing away like a woman possessed.
Alice’s conversation with Vibha:
Dhruvi Shah: Even from your bio and what little I’ve read of the book, you’re largely influenced by pop culture. I believe we all are to a certain extent. How do you incorporate that in your writing?
Vibha Batra: Hey, I’m trying to have fun with it. Keeping an eye out, ear to the ground, tongue firmly in cheek. I suppose it’s a case of ‘If you can’t run away, run with it’.
DS: What was the germ of the idea for Sweet Sixteen? Was Seventeen and Done always part of the plan? Or was it an organic growth?
VB: Lifetimes ago, I moved from Kolkata to Chennai. I always thought there was a story there. A funny one, at that. It’d been playing in my head for quite a while. So I just decided to sit down and write it. I’d always thought of it as a five book series. So a sequel was pretty much on the cards.
DS: I notice this a lot nowadays. The tone of our writing has become conversational. We are more connected to our readers. Do you think our presence on social media and interaction with others has brought about this change? Or is it something else?
VB: I think it all started with the success of Five Point Someone. And the social media revolution took it to another level.
DS: Seventeen and Done has these tests at the end of every chapter. I’m pretty sure every teen is a sucker for pop quizzes. Tell us more about them and how they facilitate the flow of the book.
VB: Ha ha! Can’t speak for everyone but I know I am. I tend to take them till the results agree with me (wink, wink). In the book, they sum up Rinki’s mood at the end of every chapter. Kind attention, those who have attempted them, feel free to flood my inbox to compare notes.
DS: Give us 3 good reasons to pick up Seventeen and Done.
VB: Just three? (laughs) Because it’s entertaining, irreverent, and witty. Am quoting some kind reviewers here, so no red flags/megalomania alerts up just yet.
DS: Rinki, your central character is only seventeen years old. And yet she manages to lead such a dramatic life. Is she also an observation of the teens of today? What kind of research went into forming the characters in your book?
VB: Research, yes. Observation, of course. Add to that, an overactive imagination, dollops of introspection, a touch of realism liberally garnished with exaggeration, and there you go.
DS: Do you want your readers to take away something from the book? Or would you rather they come back to you with what they made of it?
VB: May I have both, please? I’d love it if they take away something from the book. And if they write in with their take on stuff, wow, what more can a writer ask for (apart from eight figure advances, five-star launches, and movie deals with KJo, of course).
DS: How difficult or easy is it to be a writer? Would you like to share 3 tips for budding writers, especially those that want to write in the same space.
VB: For someone who claims ‘I’m allergic to unsolicited advice’ (especially if I’m at the receiving end), I seem to be dispensing it with alarming frequency. Blame it on the book launch season. I usually run the other way but if I must, I stick to something I swear by and that’s ‘Never ever give up’. Perhaps I should add *Conditions Apply* to that.
DS: Please tell us about being a ‘Chennai’ person. As a Mumbaikar, I’m always curious.
VB: If Bombay is bindaas, Chennai is cool. If Delhi is dilwalon ki, Chennai is dimaagwalon ki. If Kolkata is for the literati, Chennai is for the culturati. Give me time, am sure will come up with something for Pune, Chandigarh, Hyderabad…
DS: Tell us a little bit about Penguin and the Inked programme, in specific.
Inked is Penguin Books India’s hip new young adult imprint. Inked aims to publish outstanding books from around the world for teenagers and young adults in India. They will publish across all genres—fantasy, science fiction, romance, horror and cutting edge non-fiction—and focus on finding the hottest new talent from India and abroad. The launch list for 2013 has a thrilling fantasy by Eliza Crewe, a gripping novel in verse set against the backdrop of the 1984 Sikh riots, and Seventeen and Done by yours truly.
**I’m hitting up books again. Watch this space for a feature on how reading is adapting to change and coming back in fashion.