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Sharon Lobo

IWB Blogger

15 Y.O. Young Achiever Neeha Gupta Talks About Writing Her First Science Fiction Novel

  • IWB Post
  •  December 12, 2018

Can you recall what you were doing in your teens, apart from the obvious like halfheartedly doing your homework? The student I interviewed today has done so much more at such a young age.

Neeha Gupta certainly has a lot of such achievements to her name and will have a lot to cherish about her teenage years unlike me (or most of us). A national level tennis player and a state level shooter, she’s now the author of a science fiction book, Different. When asked about her future plans, she modestly tells us a list of things which is definitely longer than my to-do list for an entire month. In this interview, she tells us about her love for space technology and her journey as an author. Excerpts: 

How did the idea of the book come about?

I have been an avid reader since a very young age and my love for reading slowly translated into writing. I started blogging at the age of 12 or 13 and wrote my first book as well. But I grew out of it. Some shows on Netflix inspired me. I liked the storylines and unique characters, and that’s what instigated me to write this book.

It astonishes me that you chose the genre of science fiction considering it is really challenging, what encouraged you to do so?

I love fictional stories and books as they give wings to your imagination. On the other hand, I am drawn to concepts like space travel and extra-terrestrial life. Hence, I chose the genre of science fiction where I can use my favorite concepts and add my imagination.

Tell us about some personal experiences that inspired you to write some scenes for your book.

I think every writer draws inferences from their own life. I have also added a lot of such instances and since my protagonist is an alien I have embroidered those experiences for the protagonist adding a larger than life essence to the story.

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Draw some similarities between you and the protagonist in your book.

She’s shy, and even I am a little introverted. She loves the chemistry subject just as much as I do. She’s also interested in space technology just like me.

Tell me about one chapter that you omitted while you were writing your book, which still holds meaning for you.

I have deleted some parts which make it seem very obvious that I have drawn inferences from my own life. I have omitted the parts where I felt like I have written a lot about my personal life.

Is it difficult to be different in the age of social media? Would you have followed your protagonist on social media?

Yes, I would have followed my protagonist. The key to being different is to not copy others so just be original to be different and stand out.

We see teenagers trying to fit in these days find it difficult. Have you faced any such instances yet?

Yes, I have. I am not an extroverted person, and there have been times when I thought that I didn’t fit in. But over these two to three years, I have realized that it’s okay to be different, and one should not pressurize themselves to fit in.

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Tell us about your writing process. What routine did you follow while you were writing your book?

I tried to establish each and every character first with regards to their likes, dislikes, and beliefs and then I decided their role in the story. About the routine, I took about nine months to write, and my routine has been very unpredictable, I wrote whenever I got an idea. The initial two months involved a lot of brainstorming.

Did you think of publishing the book from the moment you started writing? 

I always wanted to publish a book. I thought of publishing an electronic copy first but publishing a physical copy of the book has been a phenomenal event for me. During the process of writing my book, I had to extensively research for the technology part. Apart from that, it is entirely a work of imagination.

Since your board exams are also around the corner and even the launch of your book is nearing, how are you managing two such important events in your life?

I am very excited. Also, I always indulge in activities apart from academics. I was a national level tennis player, now I am a state level shooter. So, I like having things going on for me aside from academics, and I thoroughly enjoy whatever stuff I have been doing and have been successful in managing everything in my life well.

You are also a very active part of your sports team, are you satisfied with the infrastructure provided by the schools for sports and what improvements do you think it needs?

It actually also depends on what kind of sport it is. Some of them don’t need that much of maintenance anyway. The infrastructure as far I know is pretty good and about improvements, I think a lot of progress has happened and is still taking place.

What are some other extra-curricular activities that you do apart from sports?

I have a YouTube channel where I explain the lessons I learn in school. It’s basically for everyone who struggles to get a grasp of some concepts and for people who don’t have other resources. Also explaining concepts helps me understand them better.

What is the one that you learned while you were blogging?

You need to be passionate when you start blogging because if you start to write thinking that you’ll garner a lot of attention and followers soon, you might end up getting disappointed. So basically, just keep writing and keep improvising.

Since you do a lot of activities, how do you rejuvenate yourself?

Keeping myself busy with all these activities is what makes me happy. But if I ever have to take some time off for myself I watch my favorite TV shows and just relax at home.

If you happened to transform into a fictional character, who would that be?

I’d like to transform into ‘Nicole,’ she’s the protagonist of my book, and she’s the perfect alien version of me. I relate to her on a lot of levels.

Do you plan on choosing writing as a profession? 

I aspire to participate in Olympics. If I get a good idea, I might even want to write another book. As I am really interested in chemistry and technology, I see myself going ahead in these two fields mostly.

How did your school teachers, parents or friends help you or inspire you in writing this book?

Initially, I told no one except my mom, but when I told my teachers and friends, they were incredibly supportive and always motivated me to keep going. They made me feel that I am doing something productive and worthwhile.

Tell us about your experience at the book launch.

We have launched the book at Crossword, Kemps Corner, and that was our first launch, and it’s also available on Amazon. We are planning to launch it in schools as well. The experience was amazing. I was nervous, but it was an exhilarating experience. I was really nervous during my first book launch and appeared a little shy while I was answering questions. I realized that I need to be more confident and just stay calm and relaxed and I’ll try to do that during my next launches.

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What advice would you give aspiring young writers?

I guess when one starts to write a book, they’ll find themselves on the extremes often. For example, one day you might come up with an amazing plot twist the other day you will feel very stuck at some point. But consistency is the key and never leave it incomplete because the feeling of completing the book and to see your name on it is inexplicable.

This article was first published on January 2, 2018.

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