Pavithra Sankaran: Interviewed by Archit Taneja

Pavitra Sankaran is the author of Mira the Detective, a hOle book, which was earlier published as Something Fishy.

Archit works in software, and the author of the Superlative Supersleuths series.

This interview was originally published four years ago. According to Archit, ‘Pavithra is super excited about the interview, but not showing it. It’s because if she becomes a renowned author, she needs to start getting used to such things.’

AT: Hi Pavithra, how does one pronounce your name?

PS: Do you want the dictionary version or the deep-south version?

AT: We want both, if that’s fine with you.

PS: Dictionary : Pah (like Bah!) Vith (like Sith) Ra (like Egyptian Sun God)
Deep south (this is a true story): Ba (like sheep) Vu (Voodoo) Tha-Ra (like, umm, Tha-Ra?)

AT: Wow, your name pronunciation has a story in it too. You really like stories, don’t you?

PS: Oooh yes, I do! I like reading them and hearing them and writing them.

AT: What was the first ever story you read/heard?

PS: I’m not sure I remember the very first one I ever heard, but the one I remember best from my childhood involves a jackal sitting atop a throne of bones and declaring himself king of the jungle. It also had songs sung by a tiger, a lion and a gecko.

AT: That sounds like an interesting story. Was there a moral to the story? Stories seem to have a lot of morals, don’t they?

PS: The moral of that jackal story, to my mind, seemed to be that if you sit on a throne of bones, you’ll get made fun of by every passing animal.

I prefer stories with morals like that, if at all they should have one. The ones I like best, of course, are the utterly immoral stories. (Maybe don’t tell your parents that, they might never let you talk to me again).

AT: Parents, please take a note (we are obliged to take all comments in the interview). So, how did you get into writing? Is this your first book?

PS: Yes, this is my first book. I “got into” writing in a rather fun way – by attending a swishwiffing workshop by Duckbill’s Platypuses.

They put us into a transmogrifier and when we came out we were writers.

AT: Could you explain what swishwiffing and transmogrifier mean? Are they safe to keep in a house?

PS: Swishwiffing is a scrumdiddlyumptious word that Roald Dahl invented. You can use it to describe anything that makes you wiggle with happiness. Transmogrifiers are magical boxes. You can turn any old box into a transmogrifier by writing on it the word you want to turn things (or people) into. Like Lollipops. Or Tigers. Or Writers. Pop them in the box and when they come out, they’ll be what you wrote on the outside (*Conditions apply). So, in a roundabout way, Transmogrifiers are a kind of spell-in-a-box.

They are completely safe for some people, but terribly dangerous to others.

AT: I hope the viewers understand that, and buy these at their discretion. Please tell us more about your book.

PS: In the book, you’ll meet Mira, a thoroughly inquisitive girl who can always smell when there’s something fishy going on. She can also smell when there is payasam anywhere nearby.

AT: So, Mira has the superpower of smell, to catch the bad guys?

PS: Haha, that would have been fun! She does have payasam-smelling superpowers, but to catch the bad guys she only uses a superpower we all have: she thinks and thinks and thinks!

AT: She does sound super smart. What is it like to write stories? Do you have any advice/spells for aspiring writers?

PS: The only advice I have for someone who want to write is: Do! As for spells, this one works rather well, I find: “Get Thee To Your Desk!”

AT: Now that you are an author, would you buy only pasteurized milk?

PS: I hate milk. It is only acceptable in the form of payasam.

AT: If you become a famous author, would you give all the money to charity?

PS: If I did become rich, yes, I would give away a lot of money to people who help to protect elephants and coral reefs and wonderful and comical birds like hornbills.

AT: Thank you Pa-vu-Tha-Ra for your time.

PS: That’s BA-vu-Tha-Ra! They’ll be most upset in my native Narasinganallur that you Pah-ed the Ba!


One comment

  1. The interview is delicious. Pavithra, the fact that your book is being published is delightful. ‘Something Fishy’ promises to be swishwiffing. I am super excited for you. I think you should be too. Every opportunity to be excited is wonderful, whether it’s your first book or the tenth. Congrats again and all the best Pavithra and Archit.

    Your fellow traveller in the Calvin inspired transmogrifier (Calvin is my favourite source of inspiration from the world of literature; especially where ‘immoral’ stories are concerned).

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