You have taken up the issues of the handicapped in an extremely mature manner. How much of research did you do to get to know your protagonist?
To be honest, I did very minimal research. First, I formed Akriti and her personality in my head, and eventually I knew her well enough to put together how she would react to the huge change in her life. Any little details or facts, I usually just researched when it came up during writing the book and not beforehand. It’s quite easy to imagine the countless difficulties faced by anyone disabled; I focussed on the emotional ones, rather than the physical and medical ones.
Please share with us your literary journey.
I’ve been writing since I first learnt to form sentences. I was in class 10 when my father found a story by me on our computer and chose to surprise me by self-publishing it. Seeing my writing as a complete book was inspiring. In no time writing felt more than a hobby.
How was the publishing process and then the feedback you got for the book?
I started submitting the manuscript of my third book ‘Unbroken’ to various publishing houses in India and didn’t tell my parents about it. I faced some rejections before Duckbill okayed to publish it. It has been an interesting experience. Marketing, getting reviews and then more reviews pouring in and a great stride was winning the Hindu Young World Good Book Award last year. All of a sudden I was being interviewed, invited to talk at literary events, and book clubs. It gave me a lot of exposure in the writing world.
How did you make time to write this book in the middle of a busy college schedule?
This answer is also why I haven’t actually started writing my next book yet. I love to write continuously, for huge chunks of time and I don’t like to set limits or specific time intervals and such. Medical college is very demanding, and there’s always something that has to be studied for, or something that has to be submitted. Hence, I haven’t been able to dedicate the time I want to writing. I have many other passions too, like dancing and playing the piano – but writing is the only thing I’ve been able to keep doing through college; even though I only write bits and pieces here and there, when inspiration strikes. Although I’m sure good time management would definitely make it possible, so far I’ve failed miserably due to lack of said skill. Writing means a lot to me, and I’m just as passionate about it as I am about medicine, so I intend to choose a career path that will give me time for both.
What does the future hold, for an extremely young author like you?
I am passionate about both medicine and writing. Right now I am busy with my studies but I plan to pursue writing more seriously in the future and no matter what, I will make time for both my passions.
Please enlighten us about the protagonist Akriti.
Akriti chooses to see only the things she didn’t have, once something huge was taken away from her. She goes through a difficult time, she tries her best to become apathetic–both to the good and the bad–but finally she realises she can’t ignore reality without destroying herself and the people she loves. Despite coming from a world of privileges, she is blind to them, because she is deprived of the one thing she would give up for all of these little things. People that fail to count their blessings, are always generally unlikeable and hard to be around.
Ranjith is such a perfect child. Please tell us about the inception of this character.
I think some people were just born to make a difference. Most of us spent our childhood, wanting to change the world and believing we can – and although that’s usually soon quenched by the reality that hits us as we grow up, he just never gave up on his ideas. Ranjith’s character also sheds some light on the fact that Akriti’s current attitude was in no regard influenced by her upbringing, and everything she became was rooted in recent events. Having said that, I didn’t expect their characters–Ranjith’s and Akriti’s–to contrast so tremendously, but once I had an idea of what he was like, I didn’t want to tone down.
About the Interviewee: Nandhika Nambi is the middle child in a family of three daughters, which gave her the experience in teenage drama necessary to write this book. She lives in Coimbatore, where she juggles her diverse passions: medicine, music, manuscripts and munching on food.