The prolific writer Ramendra Kumar has 31 books to his credit in about 20 years, out of which 27 are children’s books! An engineer and marketing maangement graduate who keeps a full-time job as well, Ramendra is thrilled with the buzz his latest book by Duckbill Publications has created. Against All Odds is about his biggest love – sports. He speaks to Harshikaa Udasi about how disability cannot be an impediment even in this space.

I have read that your children nudged out the writer within you. Could you tell us a little about your background and profession and your leap as a writer?

I am an engineer and an MBA in Marketing. I am working as the Chief of Communications, Rourkela Steel Plant which is a part of SAIL. I wrote my first poem when I was eight years old. I can’t imagine a more stupid verse. It went something like this:

Topsy and Tim,Went for a swim

Topsy swam well and broke the spell

Tim swam badly and went home sadly.

I showed it to my father with a lot of hope and apprehension.  He could have shouted at me for wasting my time writing silly verse when I should have been studying math or science. He could have patronised me, “It is a good effort, but could have been better.” He did neither.  He lifted me up and hugged me and said just one word – “wonderful”. He then went on to get the poem  typed and framed and  hung it on the wall  in his office room.

Today if I am a writer it is because of this encouragement. I took up writing more seriously when I was in college. I began writing satire, poetry and short stories. I shifted to children’s fiction only after my daughter was around four.

How many books do you have under your belt? In how many years? How many of these are children’s books?

31 books written by me have been published in around 20 years, out of which 27 are children’s books.

You are a prolific writer! Do you maintain a strict schedule about writing?

I don’t maintain a regimented schedule but I try to read and write every day. It is my attempt to exist in the idyllic world of literature at least for sometime daily.

Football is a passion, it appears. Your new book with Duckbill Against All Odds is also about the game. Could you tell us about your love for the game and about how this book happened?

I have been passionate about all sports, not just football. I used to play almost every game as a kid. Later, as an author, I have always loved writing about sports. Three of my novels have been about sports – boxing, cricket and athletics. Many of my prize-winning short stories are centred around sports.

Kartik, the protagonist of Against All Odds is quite a bit like what I was. He  is considered abnormal because he is one-armed, I was considered a freak because of my odd looks. I was also from a broken home and was thus treated with derision or pity. In the book Kartik uses his football skills to beat the odds while I used my ability to write,  speak  and dance (a desi version of John Travolta) to  emerge from the shadows.

What piques children’s interest in Indian books?

Kids like Indian books they can identify with the characters, milieu, culture and the particular issues which are intrinsic to our society.

Do your children give you inputs on your writing?

Ankita and Aniket have always been giving me inputs. Many of my stories have been inspired by their observations and comments. They have also been my greatest fans and harshest critics. Aniket is the more ‘in your face’ of the two. He has only two words to critique my tale – Chaat or Mast! Chaat meant it had to be trashed and Mast indicated the tale was to be sent pronto to the publisher. Luckily the ‘Mast’ quotient has been far higher than the  ‘Chaat’ one and I could notch up a healthy score of 31 books.

For Against All Odds I had to turn to Aniket, who is a huge football aficionado. He gave me tips about the positions, moves, as well as the shots.

What is on the anvil now?

Another sports novel – this time about match-fixing in cricket. It is a thriller centred around this rather volatile issue and is a combination of cricket and intrigue. It is being published by Readomania.

Copyright: Book Trotters Club

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