Interview with Venita Coelho, author of “The Badmash Badshah Presents: Dungeon Tales IIThis book is a feminist manifesto, and it’s about the importance of reading, of being informed, of standing up for yourself, and for demanding a more equal world. I hope to grow readers who can challenge the status quo!
on May 19, 2023
Venita Coelho is a writer and director who works across several media. She writes books, films, and television and works in canvas and glass as an artist. She has been honored by the Sahitya Akademi with the 2020 Bal Puraskar Award for her book Dead as a Dodo. Among the other awards she has won are the Neev Book Award, The Hindu Young World-GoodBooks Award 2016 and 2019, and the Peek a Book Award. Dungeon Tales I was her first published book and she is very happy to finally return to the world of the Badmash Badshah again.
Frontlist: What inspired your decision to create a second part of Dungeon Tales?
Venita: Whenever I toured with Scholastic and visited their book fairs, I would get asked repeatedly if there were more stories. Finally I decided that there were.
Frontlist: Through the character Munni, who taught herself to read and delved into the realm of storytelling, what valuable life lessons do you hope young readers can glean?
Venita: I’ve always believed in entertaining and informing at the same time. In my long life as a woman in India, I have become to believe that it is critically important to inform young girls about the issues that face them – and to do it while making them laugh. This book is a feminist manifesto, and it’s about the importance of reading, of being informed, of standing up for yourself, and for demanding a more equal world. I hope to grow readers who can challenge the status quo!
Frontlist: In what ways does the second part of Dungeon Tales differentiate itself from the first part? Could you highlight the distinctive elements or new aspects that await readers?
Venita: Quite the opposite. I tried to embrace all the joy, all the humor, all the wicked fun that was present in the first one. All the stories are brand new. And wickedly funny.
Frontlist: What sparked your imagination to come up with such a diverse collection of tales shared by prisoners in the book?
Venita: I love short stories. Especially because you can range far and wide in a single book, it’s like being let loose on a buffet. Every flavour that you wish. My imagination feasted!
Frontlist: After the success of the first part of Dungeon Tales, can readers expect the same level of enthrallment and captivation in the second part?
Venita: Well – they will have to read the book and find out! I certainly hope so.
Frontlist: How do you believe children's books, including Dungeon Tales, assist young readers in recognizing their own identity and fostering their growth?
Venita: Books are crucial to a child's idea of identity and values. Books teach you who a hero/heroine is, and they teach you what is worth standing up for. They teach you to empathize with different viewpoints, and different worlds. Reading of any sort is crucial.
Frontlist: How was your experience revisiting the world of the Badmash Badshah?
Venita: I not just revisited the world of the Badmash Badshah, I revisited the world of my childhood. Something that we so rarely do as adults. I played with stories. And I returned, richer and happier for the experience.
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