Monday, July 10, 2017

Teen Author, Sahana Kumar, on her award winning book The Rain of Blood

WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER AND WHY? I think I just picked up a pen in fourth grade and started scribbling and I was hooked. I loved the creativity of the whole process and the control I had over it. I love writing because I can make anything I want and no one gets to tell me what to do when I’m writing it, and I love character building most of all. As soon as I started, I knew I wanted to keep writing.
WHAT DO YOU ASPIRE TO BE SOME DAY?  I want to be a doctor or a bioengineer and also keep writing. One of my favorite things about writing is I don’t have to pick just that - it’s not an all or nothing kind of thing. I can choose to be an author along with whatever else I want.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE? The title I think came with the idea for the story - in the book, the heroes venture through a labyrinth called The Rain of Blood, so it was the obvious choice for a title. More broadly, I tried to pick three of the greatest human emotions and represent them in the three books in this series and they ended up being hope, pain, and fear. The second book centers around the idea of rising above pain, both mental and physical, and that’s where the, admittedly rather morbid, title came from - The Rain of Blood.
“He stepped out onto a sunlit grassy slope, slamming the door on the sound of the windows singing Scumbags in twelve-part harmony.”
Out of context, that quote probably sounds crazy but I love it because I think it really captures the sense of wild, untameable magic in Zairon. To give you a little bit of context, the main character steps from the top floor of a castle onto a grassy slope that shouldn’t exist after tricking a group of windows that sing - terribly. The magic of Zairon is one of my favorite parts of writing it, so that scene was incredibly fun to write.
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? I probably relate the most with Vicky, despite the fact she’s not a major character. She feels very out of place in Zairon, like she doesn’t fit in. She’s also a huge perfectionist, and hates it if anything she does isn’t good enough … something about a lot of the feelings her character has, I relate very strongly with. The development of her character that way was very subconscious. It took me a long time to realize I did that, my dad was the first one who noticed it and then when I reread Vicky’s sections I realized he was right.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? There are a lot of messages throughout the story of personal strength and sacrifice … overwhelmingly I hope readers take the message of friendship and the power that it can have from this story. Jason, Claire, and Zac share the kind of bonds that most people search for their whole lives and I hope the story inspires readers to search for that type of friendship, the kind that never dies.
TELL US SOMETHING RANDOM/INTERESTING/FUNNY ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER: Okay something random … at school I write so much it’s become almost like an expected thing and my friends are very used to me doing weird things because of writing ... If we’re standing in line waiting for something and I have my laptop, nine times out of ten I’ll ask one of them to hold out both their hands, palm up, and I’ll put my laptop on their hands and use it to stabilize while I type and they just laugh and let me. They’ll also give me crazy, impossible challenges like write a 100 word story with every odd sentence being 6 words and every even sentence being 4 words - okay, go.
WHICH AUTHOR HAS MOST GREATLY INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE? I’m going to go with the totally cliche but definitely true answer - J.K. Rowling. I grew up reading Harry Potter and I easily have read those books more than any others.
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE? Other than my own? I want to say Cassandra Clare books and Christopher Paolini books have had the greatest impact on me. Again, they’re totally cliche pop culture type books, but both of them have absolutely amazing writing styles and their stories are the kind of books I want to write some day. Cassandra Clare, I think, does this beautiful job of making you question your entire life through her writing and the way she ties in all of the biblical references into her stories are seamless and beautiful. Her characters are absolutely amazing - flawed, but somehow still strong. They’re very human, very gripping, but somehow ethereal all the same. Christopher Paolini has been this huge inspiration to me since he was a teenager when he published Eragon. Reading that book in particular made me think maybe I could write something like that and maybe the idea of publishing before I hit thirteen wasn’t so crazy after all.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? I want to say just getting through the first book’s publishing process was my greatest accomplishment. At first it was just really exhausting. I was just a 12-year old kid and I loved writing the book and suddenly all these people were coming in and poking holes in my story and putting it under a microscope and pointing out every tiny flaw. Pretty much every night that year, my seventh grade year, I’d come home, do my homework, edit for two or three hours, do violin, singing, and science olympiad practice and then go to sleep completely exhausted and it was just rinse and repeat. It was all worth it though when that first book came out, and I learned so much from that process. After that, with the next book I started being able to make the changes on my own without someone having to hover over me.
DO YOU HAVE ANY WRITING RITUALS? Just my age I think keeps me from having too many writing rituals - I mean if I have a chem or a math test the next day, there’s no way I’m going to be sitting down and writing that night. That said, I like to have music going when I write, usually sad music, and I write the best between the hours of 10 at night and 2 in the morning.
WHAT DID YOU DO TO CELEBRATE THE COMPLETION/PUBLISH DATE/OR OTHER OF YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?  I believe I went to school and took a history test, then went out for ice cream with my family after dinner.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? My promotion method was actually extremely unorthodox but nevertheless worked - I wrote fanfiction. I got on fanfiction sites and started actively writing stories and promoting them on message boards and after I got enough followers and people who liked my writing I sort of casually like slipped it in there, like hey I wrote a book and if you like this story as much as you say you do in the comments you should go read it and a bunch of people on the site went and bought the book and let me know what they thought of it. It was incredible and it’s a really fun way of both improving your writing, getting feedback on characters, and promoting your book all at the same time.
WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED? I published the prequel to the Rain of Blood, the first in the series titled the Cave of Mystic Dreams when I was 12.
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? Yes, I am working on the third book of the Champions of Zairon series. The second one is the one that won the Literary Classics Young Author Award. The 3rd book is called The Forgotten Elder.
The Forgotten Elder should be available hopefully in 2017 or 2018 on Amazon.

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval

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