(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Vikas Swarup, Indian High Commissioner to Canada and bestselling author whose novel gave the world Slumdog Millionaire, urged the UAE's youth to "read, read, read" .
"My approach to a film adaptation of my book is that I would have for a distant relative," said Swarup, who after a 15-hour flight from Ottawa, Canada, was overwhelmed by the reception he received from over a thousand schoolgoers from the UAE.
A question and answer session with British-Pakistani journalist and writer Sarfraz Manzoor - also a literary guest at the fair - was rolled out before a packed audience, and delved into several aspects of Swarup's life, his inspirations for his book Q & A - translated into 43 languages and the muse for the Oscar winner Slumdog Millionaire - why he thinks a good idea should never be lost, his starkly different occupations as a diplomat and a writer, how good books can shape a bright future for children, and more.
"I am delighted to see so many young faces here in the audience today. There is no foundation stronger than the one that is supported by the knowledge from good books," Swarup said introducing himself to the audience.
The audience were most curious to know at what point he decided to become a writer, where did the idea for Q & A and his other books come from, and how did he go about his research on Dharavi - the biggest slum in Asia and the setting of Q & A.
"My world did not have televisions, the Internet, or the PlayStations. My spare time was consumed by books. I always thought of myself as a reader, never a writer. It was only when I was posted in London between 2000-03 that the idea of trying a hand at fiction came to me. I never imagined that one day I would be addressing a crowd of over a thousand people at the Sharjah International Book Fair who have come together to celebrate my books! If I could make that transition of becoming a writer from a reader, I know that each one of you present here can."
When asked about how he managed to compartmentalise his rational and sensible approach as a government representative and his creative flair as an author, Swarup remarked: "The left brain right brain logic does not work for me. Creativity is a quality that exists within us all. I joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1986, have been a diplomat for India for 32 years and a writer for 10."
For the aspiring writers in the audience, Swarup's piece of advice was: "Before you become a writer, become a reader. Read, read, read. A kindle can store thousands of books, and are accessible with a few taps of the finger. Use technology to read more, and access all the knowledge in the world."
He added: "A central source of inspiration for an aspiring writer is other writers. The more you learn the craft of writers the better you can apply it in your own writing. Also, keep an eye out for life itself as life experiences are precious."