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.
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 really liked 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?
I usually watch a television show or movie, read a book, or listen to music. Listening to music is very therapeutic, but when I’m listening to an album for the first time, I like to be present and have the lyrics open in front of me because I can’t listen to a song if I don’t know what’s being said.
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—and I quite enjoy it.
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. 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 verse in the Notes app.
what place do you write in / do you have a specific time 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.
what messages do you give to your young readers through you 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.