Rupa Gulab’s Daddy Come Lately was published by Duckbill recently.
My passion for writing began when I read a story by Enid Blyton on two naughty rabbits called Binkle and Flip – I was seven or eight years old, then. The rabbits were trying very hard to write poetry. They failed miserably, got thumping headaches in the process, and tied wet towels tightly around their heads to ease the pain. Then, suddenly, their words began to flow and they wrote pages and pages of poetry! I was so inspired, I tried that too – tied a wet towel around my head and sat down with a notebook and a pencil. I didn’t manage to write more than a few words, but I did get hollered at by my mum when she saw me wearing that wet towel turban. And I had a nasty cold for weeks!
I finally wrote my first stories when I was eleven years old. Well, I didn’t write them down on paper, I made them up on the spot to entertain my two baby sisters, mainly to stop them from crying and damaging my ear drums when my parents went out for late night shows. I have faint, hazy memories of one of the first few stories. It was about a fat little pig called Hamlet – and his enemies wanted to turn him into a juicy cutlet.
A few years later, I eventually put a story down on paper: it was about a communist owl called Nostracious Nominovich, and my sister did some really fabulous illustrations. We stapled the pages, and voila – it was a book!
Strangely, after that, I never wanted to be a story writer. I wanted to be a newspaper columnist and write opinion pieces and parodies. Fate, however, had other plans for me. I joined advertising after college and became a copywriter by day and a freelance columnist by night. Many, many years later, I turned one of the columns I wrote for Cosmopolitan into a book: Girl Alone. I had loads of material, because that column ran for two long years.
Writing books is like eating crunchy chips – you just can’t stop after one. I felt the urge to write another and within three months my first draft of Daddy Come Lately was ready. It was first published in 2006 with another title: Chip of the Old Blockhead. This was the first time I was writing for young adults and I enjoyed myself hugely because my heroine, Priya, is a teenager. It was so much fun re-living my sulky, sassy teenage years through Priya. And I really, really hated maths, so I put that in as well!