Monday, 18 June 2012

Savita Kalhan - Author Interview

Today we're delighted to welcome Savita Kalhan author of teen thriller "The Long weekend" - a dark, disturbing tale of the consequences of accepting a lift from a stranger.

 We are very pleased to have the opportunity to pose a few questions to Savita today.


Many readers have described The Long Weekend as frightening. We have both read it and both found it an exciting adventure. How did you see this book as you wrote it?
I wasn’t really sure where the book would go when I first began it. Sam’s voice was very clear; the scenario was very clear; I knew it would be a dark read, but beyond that nothing was very clear.
In hindsight I think I was trying to achieve a combination of all those things really – although the adventure aspect to the story is supposed to be more frightening than simply exciting. Early on when the manuscript was submitted, I was asked whether I would consider turning it purely into a kidnap/adventure story and remove the references to the abuse entirely. I decided that I couldn’t do that. It felt like ripping the heart out of the story. I wanted the book to be an exciting, frightening, thrilling read that would be memorable – particularly to teens.
You created a totally plausible scenario for the children to trust a stranger - is this something that you see as a real risk? And is this a fear that you have ever had?
The scene where the boys get into the stranger’s car had to be very plausible – the whole story hangs on that moment. Sam and Lloyd behave in a way that kids can sometimes behave  – acting on impulse, without thought; they make an assumption, which ends up having terrifying consequences.
Children are trusting by nature. They are easily distracted, manipulated and bribed. That innocence makes them easy prey. So, yes, I wanted to make the scenario entirely plausible for that reason. Although I didn’t set out with this as my aim, I do want kids to think before they act, especially with Facebook and other social media opening a wider world to them. So it is a real risk, and certainly a fear that I have had, both as a child and as a parent.
Do you think that children take the risk that strangers can present as seriously as they should and do you think fiction can help?

Kids get lots of lectures and talks from their parents, from school, from visiting police officers, about the risk that strangers can present. They would probably never think themselves stupid enough to get into a stranger’s car, or follow where a stranger might lead them, and by stranger I mean a child abuser. But we all know that it happens. I don’t know how much fiction can help, but I do know that many teachers have commented that The Long Weekend is better than any school talk on stranger-danger might have been in bringing to life the real dangers.
Sam tucks the knives from the knife block into his rucksack but when he needs the comfort of a weapon he never considers them - was this something you chose or your editor suggested and why?
No one has ever asked that question before, and it’s a good one! Yes, you’re right. Just before Sam leaves the house after freeing Lloyd, he does put the knives in his rucksack, and that rucksack stays with him until the end of the story. And, yes, he never thinks of taking one of the knives out his bag when he is need of a weapon. The reason is that it does not occur to him at all. Sam is eleven years old, a small kid, terrified, running for his life, burdened by the knowledge that Lloyd has been abused and that it’s all down to Sam to get them out of there. He hates their abductor with all his might – but to use a knife? A potting fork, a giant marble, anything else, he considers, but never to stab the man with a knife. He didn’t think of the knives because the knives were not an option for him.
When did you first want to be a writer and what was the influence that brought this desire about?

I love books and I love reading. I wrote stories when I was much younger, but then I stopped writing, although I never stopped reading. When I was living in the Middle East in a country where  access to books was extremely difficult, I began writing again. It started out as a bit of fun between a friend and I. We were reading a lot of fantasy epics, which were very difficult to smuggle into the kingdom, (no kindle then!), and we became frustrated with the quality of the stories and the writing. We decided to write one together – only I ended up writing them and my friend ended up reading them. That’s how it started. When I returned to the UK my focus changed – the nature of my writing, although still dark, became rooted in real, contemporary situations.
You were about ready to go into publication with a second novel before Frances Lincoln were taken over and we believe you are now looking for a publisher again for it. Can you tell us anything about the story?
Well, the takeover of Frances Lincoln Books by Quarto and the subsequent decision to axe the Teen/YA division was heart-breaking. Not only was a wonderful list of books axed, authors contracts cancelled, but some amazing, forward-thinking, and very skilled editors lost their jobs. The teen/YA market is expanding, not shrinking, so Quarto’s decision is extremely short-sighted.
Yes, I am now looking for a new home for my latest novel. It’s called Amnesia, and it’s about a fourteen year old boy who wakes up in a hospital bed with no recollection of how he got there. He soon realises that he has no memory at all – he does not even recognise his mother, or even his own reflection.
Thank you  so much for asking me to do this interview!

Thank you for visiting and talking to us.

We've both read and been enthralled by The Long Weekend - read our separate reviews hereThe Mole ; Maryom 

If we've whetted your appetite you can see a trailer for it here and read more on Savita's site.

1 comment:

  1. A great book and an excellent interview. Good luck with "Amnesia" Savita!