Sunday, November 19, 2017

Meet Sonu Dabral - Author of Kool-5 Series

Once in a while reading a book from Middle-Grade genre gives you nostalgic feeling. The Phantom of Raymond Villa by Sonu Dabral is one such interesting book. Today we have Sonu with us to talk about her book.


Can you brief us about your educational and professional background?
I did my B.com and then M.B.A (Majors in Human Resources). Life comes a full circle as it is ultimately the human bonds that I am exploring .I also have a B.ed degree. (I was running an Institute in NOIDA called Six Sigma student development and support center and thought that I should have a degree in the education field as well). I've also done a certified course in publishing from N.B.T ( National Book Trust).These are some of the formal qualifications I have, which to be honest I didn’t make much use of professionally, though the knowledge gained from them enhanced my horizons and outlook tremendously.
What were you like at school/college apart from studies?
I was good at academics and a district level debater as well as good at dramatics and elocution. I was also a good badminton player.
You could put me on the stage in front of a crowd and I could speak impromptu without any stage fear. I was quite outgoing and naughty as well.

What are some day jobs you have held?-
None. But have freelanced a bit. Done subtitles for a documentary movie, Translations and audio for websites, Taught in a school, volunteered for WAVE and for some N.G.Os.
Despite having quite a few degrees up my quiver, I’ve never get down to using these degrees professionally, instead I treaded into the alien fields of Education (running an Institute), teaching, translation, freelancing for a website, handling real estate projects, doing interiors and authoring books !!
And now, penning a fresh chapter, I embark upon a unique social entrepreneurship initiative on women empowerment with the theme ‘extraordinary ordinary women', thebitches ( an acronym for Beautiful Intelligent Talented Careerpersons & Homemeakers Empowerment Space)
Do check out the website www.thebitches.in !!!
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? Which author inspire you the most?
I believe that good writers are also  good reader. I am an avid reader too. My favourite authors include Ashok Banker, Devdatta patnaik, Arun shourie,Enid Blyton,Jeffery Archer, Anant Neelkantan, and Paul Coelho.
I think one author I am completely enchanted by and in awe of is Ashok Banker. He’s not only reintroduced and brought back mythology and history into our lives but also given it a larger than life canvas. His style of story telling and his characters are simply phenomenal.

When did you start writing?
I think I was always good at writing but the first time I truly felt I could write well was when one of my essays was taken straight from my examination paper and published in the school magazine. Also I was good at writing debates and won many accolades for it.
When did you decide to become a writer?
Forever a story maker and storyteller I would regale my cousins even as a kid with my sometimes funny,sometimes crazy , thrilling stories. And then I would tell my children a story each night ( I still do to this day!)  I normally ask them to give me three words and then I weave a story around these random words impromptu giving birth to some very interesting stories.
It was my children who motivated and encouraged me to pen down  my first mystery series for Indian kids, with Indian characters who ate idlis instead of pies and spoke and behaved in a way they could relate with. And though only a handful of the stories I’ve worked on have been  published a whole sackful are waiting to be told.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I would like to continue writing for the young minds as also explore the adult fiction and mythological genre.
Do you have a special time to write, or how is your day structured to accommodate your writing?
There is no set time for writing. Whenever the ideas bubbling in my head’s cauldron begin to overflow I know it’s time to pick up the pen or rather the keyboard. I also jot down any interesting ideas that pop up in my head out of the blue for future reference.
What have you written so far?
Yes these two books in the kool 5 series are the first novels to be published. However I’ve written for newspapers and few of my short stories have been published there as well. Two of my short stories, “ Casa Gloria” and “ The Divine Quest” were selected as part of the competition organized by fundacao oriente for two consequetive years and published as an anthology of short stories in ‘ Coconut Fronds’ and  ‘Monsoon winds’. 
What genre are your books?
Mystery thriller and adventure stories for children and those young at heart.
Can you describe your current book in few lines? What’s it about?
The books are about five spunky youngsters who solve baffling and sometimes dangerous mysteries. They brainstorm over perplexing mysteries in their H.Q, an old abandoned junkyard of a garage near the Prudential Palms, the Housing Society where they live . They coin Kool new words such as ‘Bangry’ which means when you are angry and about to start banging things and ‘Bliar’ that means a beautiful liar and collect such kool words in their ‘Kesauras’ or Kool thesaurus.
The Kool five have Kool code names Maya, Munch, Dodo, Nano and Jinx, and each has their own peculiar trait.They embark on their first thrilling adventure when they unmask the scary phantom that haunts the Raymond Villa and scares the bejeebers out of anyone who sets foot inside the villa. He automagically materialises at different places simultaneously .Crashing chandeliers, strange voices, dancing lights, water turning to blood, threatening letters, the paint of the villa changing colour on it’s own are some of the strange happenings the kool five must investigate in their very first mystery,” Phantom Of The Raymond Villa’.
In their next exciting adventure” Mystery Of The Kungfu Panda’ the K-5 investigate the bizarre connection between a harmless innocent stuffed panda toy and a strange robbery and kidnapping.
Give us an insight into your main character(s)



Where did you get idea for this book?
As a ritual I have to tell bedtime stories to my children who want to hear mom’s original never ever heard before stories. And they often give me key words around which the story must be strung. Strangely the plots of both the novels came up in this fashion ! and I developed on them later.
How much research did you do for this book?
I had to put in a lot of research to get the names of the locations and places in right, revise my chemistry and knowledge of gadgets, surveillance and how electronic things work.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why? (If applicable)
LUKI, The Gabbar. I just love his whole persona and the comic relief he provides. He is seriously hilarious and entertaining. He’s a simpleton who has many layers to his character which makes him very popular with the five Koolers who love to play pranks on him.
What was the toughest thing about writing your latest book?
I’m not a very technical person and for this particular novel I had to do a lot of research to understand the complexities of technology.
What are you working on at the minute?
Right now I’m busy with my initiative on women empowerment thebitches. The website www.thebitches.in is live and is also complemented with offline events , both have got a tremendous response. I am writing blogs and sharing my thoughts and reflections on the website as well.
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
Two of the novels in the Kool-5 series have already been published and hopefully we shall have a third mystery in the series as well soon.
How was your experience with Publishing house - Lead Start?
It was a great experience. Their policy of least interference gives a free hand and creative liberty to the authors inspiring them to give their best.  
Would you like to narrate some interesting things that might have happen during your publishers’ meeting or book promotions?

  • My high point as a writer was getting the soft launch of my books done by my childhood hero, Mr. Ruskin Bond. To this date I have to pinch myself to believe that he actually did the honours.
  • And the next defining moment was when Shri. Bharat Vir Wanchoo,( the ex Governor of Goa) an extremely erudite an amazing person launched my books as well. 
  • Smt. Mridula Sinha( the current Governor of Goa), a writer par excellence and witty beyond words launched the anthology of short stories ‘ Coconut Fronds’.  A memory I hold very close to my heart. 
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t just keep waiting, the time will never be perfectly right ..Ever. To ‘Finish’ you must ‘Start’ first. Remember you don’t get there by wishing but by working towards your goals. 
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
I believe the questionnaire is very well etched out and comprehensive.
Links for your book readers
We would like to thank Leadstart Publishers (Frog Books) for providing this opportunity to connect the author. Readers can check their wonderful collection of books by going through this link - Leadstart Books
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