Secrets of Zynpagua: Return of the Princess

Interview with Ilika Ranjan

Ilika Ranjan, author of Secrets of Zynpagua: Return of the Princess, took some time out of her busy schedule for an interview with us. Here’s what she had to say.

WRTT: As we all know, you are an author. As what kind of an author would you introduce yourself?

Ilika Ranjan: An author who can makes reading fun and introduce  a life with unlimited possibilities.

WRTT: What do you do apart from writing?

IR: I am an ex-banker, used to handle product development and balance sheets in the bank I worked for. Had written my first book Puppet on the Fast Track in 2011, after being absolutely disillusioned with the banking system.

I feel strongly for employment generation potential of tourism in India. Thus started my company Pundareek in 2009. Our country is beautiful. It just needs dedicated and passionate hands to position it positively. It’s a venture I have dedicated my life for.

I also write travelogues for a magazine called CFO Connect.

Currently I have taken up an additional assignment as Content Guru for a new venture- Aroundhomz.com. I loved the concept of the venture. Download the app and one gets to call any vendor one needs for the house. In today’s world when we have to think both in terms of quality and security, such ventures and entrepreneurial initiatives are the call of the day.

I have also taken up on me to encourage children to read and make reading a fun hobby. Thus I have been visiting schools across India, to encourage children to get creative with writing and reading. This I have been doing purely driven by passion and there is no monetary angle here.

WRTT: What genres of books do you read?

IR: I have a penchant for fantasy and mystery books, especially the ones for children and young adults. They are full of hope and easy on the mind.

WRTT: Given a chance, how would you describe Secrets of Zynpagua: Return of the Princess in just one sentence?

IR: A fun-fantasy book for children which has converted so many non-readers into readers.

WRTT: What inspired you to write a children fantasy novel?

IR: I love reading children fiction and my creative juices reach a very different level when I write even a paragraph for children. I also thought in terms of reading potential for the book. Children are very positive and impressionable. They are also great motivators. I have repeatedly said that other than my family and friends, the segment which has motivated me the most for Secrets of Zynpagua, are the children. They don’t differentiate between Indian and foreign authors, unlike adult counterparts.

 I felt Literary industry in India is publishing books on cliched topics. The publishers, booksellers have completely ignored the potential of children fiction. Thus penned down Secrets of Zynpagua.

WRTT: With which children fantasy novel would you like to compare Secrets of Zynpagua: Return of the Princess?

IR: None. It is different. Yes the story of stars has enamored me since childhood, but I think that is it.

WRTT: Apart from Secrets of Zynpagua: Return of the Princess, name any one children fantasy novel which you would suggest your readers?

IR: I am assuming Harry Porter is a given read, but yes, I liked reading Children of the Lamp Series by P.B Kerr.

WRTT: Are there any other works of yours in the pipeline?

IR: I am currently writing part 2 of Secrets of Zynpagua, which is – Secrets of Zynpagua: Search of soulmates.

When you read this book, you will discover a very different meaning of the word SOULMATE.

WRTT: Anything else that you would like your readers to know?

IR: Being an author is a very difficult task. Authors meet very hostile and negative people during the journey of publishing a book. The publishers are callous and myopic. The booksellers are clueless and there is so much cynicism in the industry. In this entire journey, even when one reader writes a good review for the book, it gives so much life to the author and his/her creativity. Authors I think are more sensitive  than what people know of them. I want to thank and acknowledge every reader who has liked my book. Had they not been there, Secrets of Zynpagua would not have existed.

WRTT: Thank you, Ilika. I am sure your insights will help our readers get a better understanding on what an author goes through to cater to readers. We can’t wait to read Secrets of Zynpagua: Search of soulmates.

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Secrets of Zynpagua: Return of the Princess by Ilika Ranjan

Review by Shwetha H S

This book is a refreshing break from other books that deal with complicated and materialistic adult life. Ilika Ranjan has shown that Indian authors too can take on writing fiction for children by simply swirling their own magic wands called pen. The colourful and well-illustrated cover and a character introduction card with a lined up pictures of all the main characters on it and the best part is it can be used as a bookmark too.

Secrets of Zynpagua: Return of the Princess is the first book in the Zynpagua series. As the name says, this book marks the return of the princess to Zynpagua along with her brother and uncle to save her family and people from the clutches of an evil scientist. This book tries to combine magic and science. And the best part is, the author has not tried to make the story unfold in some foreign country, but has based it in India and in a mystical land of Zynpagua.

Since this book is meant for children and young adults, author has written in a way that even children can understand. For example, she has written as “stretch pants” instead of thermal wear. But she also uses words like topography that very small children cannot understand unless explained what it means. In the acknowledgement, the author has mentioned that so and so person has illustrated and painted the sketches of the characters given in the book, but all the sketches in the book are in grayscale, and this disappoints a reader. The author also brings in the concept of soul mates in this book which is inappropriate in the book meant for children too. Had it been only for young adults, then this would have been accepted, but the idea of soul mates is hard to accept and puts in adult emotions and thoughts into young minds.

Flow of the story is really good as every event in it is well connected and is not purposeless. There is a reason behind whatever happens in the story and helps in taking the story further. No senselessly dragging just to make it a long story. This book is a commendable effort by the author, Ilika Ranjan, for catering to the young readers of India. Don’t forget to buy this book for your children. If you buy it, then be prepared to explain few concepts to your children if they are too young to understand them.