I’m right in the middle of the sequel to The Runaway Children of Chennai and Rish has taken on a life of his own.
I know I’m giving him a hard time, but that’s the whole point. I’m trying to raise awareness of the troubles faced by street children in India.
Glue-sniffing is a massive problem. My findings have been sad and scary.
Street children are permanently hungry, and glue-sniffing apparently takes away the hunger pangs. These poor children are using a cheap drug to make them feel better with no understanding of its addictive nature, or the danger.
In an interview, one child revealed that he liked to sniff glue 'because it makes me feel good and I can forget about my worries'.
“I’m hungry and I’ve got plenty of worries,” Rish said to me this morning. “I want to have a go at sniffing glue.”
“That’s not a good idea,” I told him. "I haven’t got to the bit where I warn about the dangers yet."
“Can I join the glue-sniffing gang then?”
“You’ll regret it.”
I have a few problems here:
I need to write about glue-sniffing as it’s a massive problem amongst street-children in India, and my book is supposed to be authentic.
My readers won’t appreciate being lectured at if I get the tone wrong.
This is a children’s book.
“No, Rish, this is a children’s book,” I said. “Children might want to read about the horrors of glue-sniffing, but their parents won’t like it. And that might lead to bad reviews which wouldn’t do sales any good at all. Anyway, this is supposed to be an exciting book full of adventure and hope, not full of misery. Glue sniffing is extremely dangerous.”
When I published The Runaway Children of Chennai in May I was hopeful that people would buy it. I was very happy with my cover and the early reviews, and I was pleased with the story (otherwise I wouldn’t have published it!) In June I was selling quite a few books every day, but in August sales doubled. I can’t describe how happy it makes me when I (daily) look at my stats and see new sales and reviews.
Best seller status!
All those hours of planning, writing, editing, editing, and editing and now real people, people I don’t even know, are out there reading the words I have written. And enjoying them!
Thanks so much to all of you who have been so supportive. I had a lovely email yesterday from a man called Joe who’s just signed up to my mailing list:
Chapter nine of TRCOC blew my mind for a page or two … What trouble will Rish & Mariam get into in Mumbai? When do you think that the sequel to The Runaway Children of Chennai will be published? My older grandkids LOVED it!
Thanks Joe - that's the sort of email that makes me want to sing!
Anyway, back to my problem with Rish who’s still going on about the glue-sniffing.
“Can't I just try it?”
“Okay, but it’s going to make you sick.”
I’ve written the chapter now. Not only did I make Rish very sick, but I also made him witness something to put him off for good (wait and see!) Now he’s decided to leave the glue-sniffing gang and take a trip somewhere else...
“Can I have a go at train-surfing!”
If you haven't read The Runaway Children of Chennai yet, you won't know about the terrible things Bapa tried to do to Rish. You won't know how Mariam believed that lying toad, Lawrence, and you won't know what happened in the factory - it's really bad!
So if you think you're missing out, you can buy the book here