As a 16-year-old, when I was travelling to Mussorie, one of my biggest draws was to meet Ruskin Bond – the author who had written one of my most favourite stories in the ICSE syllabus – The Night Train to Deoli. As chance had it, when I reached the book depot where he usually sits and meets his fans, I was informed that Mr. Bond was out of town and would not come for the next few days.

I regretted the chance of not meeting him and so for me it was almost a dream come true when I could attend his talk session at the inauguration of Jharkhand literary fest on September 7th, 2018, noted an avid fan.

The fantastic show, aptly conducted by ace conversationalist Malavika, was engaging and the audience were often in splits owing to the fantastic anecdotes shared by Mr. Bond.

Sharing his journey as an author, Mr. Bond said that it began when he was locked up in the library as a punishment. He was fascinated and wanted to be a part not only as a reader but as a writer as well. So, he wrote his first book – the nine months – which had nothing to do with pregnancy but documented the nine months of a school term. The initial book that did not highlight the teachers of the school in glowing terms, was understandably not well received and in fact was discarded by the principal of his school. However, that did not squash the spirit of the little author and he continued to write – his first published book “A Room on the Roof” came out when he was only 17 years old.

For writers, as Mr. Bond says, times were tough those days. There were very few publishers and so to begin with he started by sending writing pieces to the national newspapers like The Statesman or Illustrated Weekly. Rejections were many but he did not give up – in fact that as per him makes or breaks a writer. “If you are not succeeding as a writer, persist and never despair, and if you are in despair write in despair but never give up,” he says.

To him writing has been a habit for years – one on which he has never given up. He writes about queer friends and relatives and if he is not getting a story out of them then about animals and nature and if he misses that then he cooks up a ghost story – which according to him are the easiest to cook up. He has never particularly written a story targeting it to be made for a movie yet several of his stories have been adapted as movies the most famous ones being Shyam Benegals Junoon and Vishal Bharadwaj’s Saat Khoon Maaf where he also had a small role.

On being questioned what made him a successful children’s author Mr. Bond says that probably his disturbed and lonely childhood made him understand children’s world more and so he can capture it in words. Among his books, his favourite children’s books are The Blue Umbrella, Emerald River, Looking for the Rainbow among others.

Although he is primarily a fiction writer, as a reader Mr. Bond enjoys reading biographies, especially of other authors and the biography of acclaimed author Somerset Maugham is one of his favorites. He does face writer’s block but his suggestion is to change genres and give it a break before one comes back to it.

As parting advice to young writers Mr. Bond noted – “it is good to be influenced by one’s favorite writer but nevertheless one needs to develop his/her own style… Be unique and introspect on your life from your own view point – add to it impeccable English and grammar and you have the perfect recipe for success.”