when did you start writing / tell us about your early childhood?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I have no exact memory of my first work, only that I used to constantly brood over my mother’s collection of books; she has a masters degree in literature, and would just wish I could understand all the words but obviously I was too small at that time. But I remember the first poem I read and understood was from a book called Poetry, Past to Present by Anthony Farrell, and that was Daffodils by William Wordsworth. Shortly after, I began writing my own little poems. I still love Daffodils, and it’ll always have a place in my heart for getting me into writing.
do you have any early writing-related memories?
I’m not sure if this is this earliest memory, but it’s definitely the one that I still remember the clearest. So at the time my mom was forcing me to go this football academy thing with my older brother. I obviously hated it, so I made a deal with my mom that I would be spared from football if I promised to read a book the entire time my brother was out playing football. So I did that, but one of those days, I just couldn’t, and I remember it was a really windy afternoon like right before a storm, but the sky was yellow—not the sunny kind of yellow, but more like a sandstorm kind of mustard-yellow. And I was supposed to be reading but I was just sitting in front of my window on this two step ladder thingy, in that I was sitting on the bottom step of the ladder and using the top step as a desk. My window was huge, pretty much the size of the entire wall in my room, so it was like a full panoramic kind of view of the weather. And I had this notebook in front of me which I’d bought with my grandpa, because my grandpa always used to buy me stationery and office supplies for no particular reason—yes, that’s how specifically I remember this. And I was holding just a cheap Dollar ink pen, and watching the birds struggle to beat the wind, and I that’s when I wrote my first poem. It was a really cliche poem called I Wish I Could Be a Bird with really terrible rhymes. I finished it and rushed down to show it to my mom, but there were some guests over at our house. I went in to greet them, and one of them asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and that’s I think the first time I said I wanted to be a writer. They asked if I’d written something, and I was holding the poem I’d torn from the notebook in my hand, and I showed it to them. I told them I’d just written it, and after that my mom never forced me to play sports again.
how did you go from writing poetry to fantasy fiction?
Back in the day, when I was really, really, really young, I used to be a hardcore Chronicles of Narnia fan. I watched the movie while it was on TV, and fell in love with it. Later, I watched the rest of them, and I even pretended to cry when my grandfather refused to buy the collector’s editions of the books to emotionally blackmail him into buying them for me. And while poetry was fun, it was much more inaccessible to me; most of the poetry was too complex and hard for me to read and understand, so the Narnia books became my gateway into the world of reading, through which I discovered more fantasy fiction, and so inevitably, because I began consuming fantasy fiction, I began producing it too.
what is the writing process like for you?
This is probably the hardest question anyone could ask a writer, because writing is such an abstract process, it just…happens. Sometimes, you force it out of yourself, and other times it comes to you and you word vomit onto your keyboard. It’s different every time and for every project. Poetry is a whole other story; you can’t force yourself to sit down and write or set a word count goal—its even more abstract because you never know what you’ll wake up to write tomorrow. And with me, I can’t multitask. I can’t be working on a novel and then randomly one day write a poem. I’ll be writing poems for months, until I transition back into novel writing.
what do you do in your free time?
People who know me based on my work only usually tend to think I’m some intellectual literary what-not, but in truth I’m just your average teenager. I’m a Netflix addict, I obsessively listen to pop music and waste a lot of time on the internet.
how do you balance writing and studying?
I wish I could have an answer, but in truth, I don’t. Either I study, or I write. Studying is so different from writing—it’s so monotonous while writing (or any form of art) is so creative it’s impossible for me to conduct both of those activities side by side; both of them require a completely different mindset. Up till now I have been resorting to following a pattern of writing the whole year and then starting to shut off my creative instincts as exams come close. But that’s obviously getting harder each class, so I’ve now adapted to the very unhealthy routine of staying up late to write.
what are some of the things that inspire you?
It mostly just comes from the shows and movies I watch, the books I read, and the music I listen to. Apart from that, anything can inspire me. Even the slightest thing could make a gear click in my mind so I’ll have to pull out my phone and quickly write down an idea or a phrase in the Notes app.
do you have a specific time/place dedicated to writing?
Ideally, my room, at night. It has become a ritual for me to stay up late at night and write until I start to feel sleepy. I find the night to be so much more peaceful and inspiring, because no one can disturb me and it feels like everyone’s just gone and it’s just you and your work.
But as I’ve come back to writing poetry, I’ve really started figuring out that the stereotype of the writer locked up in his room in front of a computer screen doesn’t really apply to a poet, and as a poet it’s just as important for you to be around people as it is for you to be isolated, because poetry is a very personal and reality-based work as compared to fantasy or fiction. So being around people or in newer places also helps a lot of the times.
how long does it take you to finish a book?
Depends on the book. I wrote Instrumental Queens in three months, and then the editing and publishing etc took a year. That was about 50,000 words. Another book I wrote that I left halfway was a 100,000 words and I wrote that in two months. I did that as part of NaNoWriMo, which is a super cool thing you can do to motivate yourself to write. I succeeded in the 50K words in a month goal, and repeated the same thing for December. On the other hand, poems are a much more of a slow burn kind of process for me and takes either weeks or just happens in an epiphany kind of momentary burst. But mostly writing is the easy part and editing takes longer.
what messages do you give to your young readers through your work?
I don’t have messages in my work. There are themes in my books, as there are in every work of literature, but there are no messages, because I don’t agree with the concept of ‘moral of the story.’ Readers should be able to take away whatever they want from a book, and interpret its contents whichever way it speaks to them. I don’t want my books to feel like a sermon, like ‘this is what this story is teaching you, and you should learn it.’ That is up to the reader.