28 April, 2019

#Interview with Alexander McCall Smith, #Creator of Mma Precious Ramotswe



I first met Mma Precious Ramotswe in 2002 when I came across a copy of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency at a local lending library in Kolkata. I fell in love with the character, the country and the written words of that book. Over the years the series has been a constant in my life and Mma Precious has been a ray of hope with her understanding of human nature, her generosity and kindness towards the people around her. 

So, when I got an impromptu opportunity to talk to the creator of Mma Precious, I grabbed it instantly. As I was headed to the meeting, if anyone had stopped and asked me to spell my own name, I would have failed miserably. I met with Mr. Alexander McCall Smith with shaky legs and trembling voice, convinced that I was making a complete fool of myself. 


Alexander McCall Smith, humble and always a gentleman first, put us at ease with his jolly nature and his ever present smile as we discussed his books, the present publishing scene and how we all need a bit of ‘more time’ for reading in our lives!

On Mma Precious Ramotswe:

Mma Precious Ramotswe is a wonderful woman. I wanted to write about a woman living in Botswana and I wanted to capture just how intuitive and how pleasant many such people are. So, I invented the character of Precious Ramotswe, who is a very kind woman and she is very forgiving. Those are her main traits. She is generally the sort of person one would like to have a cup of tea with. 

The important thing about her is that she is very positive and takes a positive view of life. That is something that chimes with people because the world can be a very upsetting place; it is full of confrontation and conflicts. People like to spend time in company of a character who believes in treating other people with respect, decency and indeed kindness. And that… is why she is quite popular with readers.


On Mma Precious Ramotswe’s detection methods:

Detection is a secondary part of her. She works as a detective and calls herself a Private Detective. It is not really crime that she works with. She works with little mysteries in people’s lives, psychological problems, maybe a bit of bad behavior here and there. But effectively she is concerned in helping people with the problems in their lives. It is more about human nature and it is also about the place. I think the place often very important in such novels

On Botswana:

I have lived in Botswana and worked at the university there. It is a very peaceful and attractive place. I thought that it was just a very interesting country and I liked the people there. So, it was the desire to share my fondness for the country that made me write about the country.

On Publishing Scene in India:

The publishing scene in India is very healthy.  Just look at the variety of titles that are being published here. It’s brilliant.


On Jaipur Literature Festival:


This is a wonderful festival. It is absolutely one of the top literary festivals in the world. So many things about it are so good; the fact that this is a free festival and nobody is stopped from coming for financial reason. The fact is that there is such a wonderful atmosphere here and there’s a buzz about it. The events are so interesting; so many different authors, so many different voices and so many different subjects. It is marvelous.

What’s coming up:

I have just started working on the 20th Volume of No.1 Ladies Detective Agency. I am writing the next volume of my children’s series, the Tobermory series. And I am also working on the 13th volume of my Scotland Street Series. During this year, I plan to publish six books… So more books, expect more book!


As we walked out, I realized that the author is one of those rare personalities whose mere presence could teach you something of value. 

If you are someone who would like to know more about the author and his books, aside from the Author's Personal Website, here's where you can dig around:

  
            No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series        44 Scotland Street Series                 Isabel Dalhousie Series






Special Thanks to Jaipur Literature Festival & Teamwork Arts for making this possible. 

 




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