Shreekumar Varma is a maverick of sorts — a writer, teacher and columnist. His novels, “Lament of Mohini” and “Maria’s Room”, were long listed for the Crossword prize and the inaugural Man Asian Literary prize respectively. His latest book for children, “The Magic Store of Nu-Cham-Vu,” is an adventure set against a magical backdrop.

“I wrote this as a short story in England. However, my publishers liked it a lot and asked me to write a longer story. Thus the book was born.”

The author says “The Magic Store of Nu-Cham-Vu” is the story of this obnoxious creature Nu-Cham-Vu, who runs a toy store in a small village. It’s a magic store and offers a wide range of goodies and magical items. Nu-Cham-Vu is rude to everyone — the children who visit the store and their parents.

“The villagers decide to throw him out of the village, much to the shock and dismay of the children who love the store.

“The children set out on an adventure to ensure that the creature and the toy store remain in the village. That is the primary focus of this story.”

On whether an anti-hero would be acceptable to a primary audience of children, Varma answers, “The character is a monster, but is important to the tale because of the magical store that he manages. Children would be able to associate with the character and the tale very well. I have also used illustrations to make it more children-friendly.”

He adds, “Very few Indian authors have explored the realm of writing novels based on fantasy. The popularity of the Harry Potter series is proof of the huge reader base the genre has.

“I hope children who enjoyed the Harry Potter series like this book too and take up writing in due course, especially since the habit seems to be on a decline, with TV and the Internet taking up a lot of time apart from studies.”

Shreekumar feels writing a novel is very different from writing a short story . “It depends on the story that must be told. While for a novel you need deeper and complex characters and many side stories, you can manage with a straightforward narrative as far as short stories are concerned.”

Varma is working on another novel that will be launched in a couple of months. “It is a novel that will draw many inferences to life in a sleepy town in Kerala.”

“The Magic Store of Nu-Cham-Vu” published by Penguin is priced at Rs.175 and is available at stores across the country.

SHRUTHI PADMANABHAN madras plus, economic times
Weaving magic
Shreekumar Varma’s The Magic Store of Nu-Cham-Vu is an adventure set against the backdrop of magic