Shabnam Minwalla is the author of The Shy Supergirl, a hOle book, published in October 2015. She is in conversation with Lubaina Bandukwala, who is an editor, children’s book specialist and soon will be running her own children’s lit fest in Hyderabad.
LB: Are you a shy super girl?
SM: Well, I definitely am shy. In fact I was so shy as a little girl that I would refuse to go to birthday parties and rarely said a word in front of unfamiliar adults.
Sadly though, unlike Nina, I could not look into the hearts of people. But do think it would have been enormous fun to possess such a power. And also a wee bit frightening.
LB: What’s your super power?
SM: Very early on I discovered the magic in books and stories. Through them I travelled all over the world and beyond, experienced snowstorms and trips to fairyland. So my superpower — if you call it that — is the ability to create a similar magic with words. To write stories that Indian children will identify with and entirely understand.
LB: How do you use your super power?
SM: I always feel that one of the horrid things about being a child is that you are so powerless. Especially when you are confronted with mean adults who use petty cruelty to hurt you. Most children are more likely to encounter such villains than Dark Lords and dragons with eye-gouging tendencies. So those are the villains in my books. While the protagonists are children who — though timid and afraid — are willing to battle these
In a way, my stories are about battles between certain nasty adults and children who put aside their timidity to do the right thing. I want children to realise that if they are brave, unexpected forces come to their aid. I want children to realise that they too have power.
LB: So you have a special outfit when you use your super power?
SM: Well, I’m going to share a very embarrassing secret. I usually start writing the very moment my three daughters leave for school. So my Supergirl outfit is my baggy, faded pair of pyjamas.
LB: Who are your sidekicks? How do they help you?
SM: Definitely my three daughters, Aaliya, Nisha and Naima. They discuss the books and help me when I’m stuck. They make promo videos for my books. And generally throw up super ideas every few minutes.