What were your motivations for writing the book?
I’ve wanted to write a book for a long time and to test my hand at storytelling. Writing ‘Out There’ gave me the opportunity to do that. Not to mention, it was an exciting way to spend the summer!
What do you feel the message of your book is?
The book, being set in an alternate utopian future, questions what it means to be perfect. Ava embarks on a compelling journey in an effort to break free from the chains of perfection that have been forced upon her by society. I feel that her struggle reflects some of the pressures that many modern teenagers face today.
How is it different to other books out there?
‘Out There’ is a fast-paced, engaging, thought-provoking read. It shows the life of a teenager quite accurately, because a teenager herself has crafted it. The story of ‘Out There’ is engaging above and beneath the surface.
When did you start writing?
I’ve always been writing, whether it’s been diaries or short stories or chapters of potential books. A lot of my writing was related to school, but I had experimented with several ideas in my own time, trying to piece together my first novel. It wasn’t until last summer, when I decided that I seriously wanted to write a book, that I put more planning and structure into my writing.
Where did the idea for the book come from?
When thinking up ideas for stories, I usually imagine some theoretical concept or situation and try to visualise what that would be like if it did happen in reality. With ‘Out There’, I had been wondering about the battle of the genders and the joke that one gender would just be better off without the other. Then I started to think about what would happen if there actually were only one gender. Through that, I managed to create a society in my mind with all of its benefits and challenges; one of those challenges being reproduction. Soon I was piecing together a vision of what it would be like for people living in this society and how they would react to all of it.
In the end, ‘Out There’ was never really about the conflict of the genders but about the conflict of opinions and the questioning of the assumptions upon which society is organized. So many other themes later came into the story, like perfection, responsibility and friendship.
How long did it take you to write?
I started the book at the beginning of my school summer vacation in 2012 (so early June) and ended just before school started again in late August. In total, I spent about three months on the first draft of ‘Out There’.
Is there a second book on the way?
I would love to write a sequel to ‘Out There’ and hopefully make it into a trilogy. There is a lot more to the story that could be explored and I already have a few ideas.
What advice would you give to other young writers?
Approach writing in whichever way you enjoy the most! If you like just throwing ideas around, then get a notebook and write whenever you feel inspired, whether it is a sentence or ten pages of thoughts. If you’re more interested in developing a specific piece of writing, then make a plan and work towards a goal. Nothing feels better than knowing you have accomplished your goal.
Don’t rush it, I’ve often come into troubles from not taking my time with something, and be honest with yourself when you’re not happy with the direction your writing is going. Don’t be afraid to change something entirely and try something else.
Where does your inspiration come from?
A lot of my inspiration involves ‘what if’s’. My best ideas revolve around a concept or character that is unusual or non-conventional in some way. In the case of ‘Out There’ the question was, “What if there was a society of only women?” and from there I started to unravel what that would be like.
When and where do you write?
During school there is barely anytime to write consistently so I only wrote ‘Out There’ during the summer holidays. Most of the book was written in America, as that was where I was spending my summer, and some in London. I would usually devote two or three hours every morning to writing and would make sure to find a quiet room with lots of sun!
What do you enjoy reading?
I enjoy all sorts of reading. I like sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, romance, classics and even the occasional chick-lit! I especially like books set in an alternate reality or future because of the uniqueness of the setting. I’ve also recently become interested in nonfiction.
Would you like to make a career out of writing?
I have always considered a career in writing but never decided if I really wanted one until after this whole experience. I enjoyed writing ‘Out There’ greatly and hope to write many more novels in the future. However, I think that I will probably keep writing as a side-career.
Some of the sales from this book are going to charity. Why have you decided to do this?
I have decided to donate a portion of the sales to Pratham, a charity working with education in India, because education has always been an issue I have felt strongly about. I originally wrote ‘Out There’ to give people a story to enjoy and this way I am giving to people in another meaningful way as well.
Where did you grow up?
I was born into two nationalities, Indian and American, but have spent the majority of my childhood in London, which to me is home. Culturally, I am a mix of all three regions, but I still have my American accent.
Can you remember the first book you read?
I have been reading since I was a few months old. My first book was either one of the great classics: ‘Dinosaurs Roar’ or ‘Do You Know Where My Sock Is?’