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‘The Warrior Rises Again’: This Apeejay student’s second inspirational book talks about overcoming fears

Samaira Mulchandani, a student of Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park, says all her fictional characters are witty, humorous and musical

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A class 9 student of Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park, Samaira Mulchandani wrote her first fiction piece at the age of eight. With continued support and encouragement from the schoolteachers, who even kept printed copies of her stories in the school library, the young author has now published her second fiction book “The Warrior Rises Again” after “The Empire of Enchantments”. She also sketched beautiful illustrations for the books. In an interview, Samaira tells us the inspiration behind the characters in her story, her parents’ first reaction, her favourite authors, and more. Edited excerpts:

Tell us about your new book “The Warrior Rises Again”.

My books, “The Empire of Enchantments” and “The Warrior Rises Again”, are based on characters crippled by their fears. As the plot unravels, we see how two sisters overcome their fears and discover the courage for persistence to follow their path.

What inspired the idea for the book? Take us through your writing process.

What if we make a mistake? What if we make a wrong decision? I believe each one of us has some fear inside us and the only way to overcome it is to face it. Both my books are inspiring. They show us how letting go of your fears sets you free. Both my books end on a positive note, reflecting the growth of characters. I believe all of us have the courage to move from weakness to strength. We just have to take that first step.

I started writing my second book a few days after my first one got published. My characters are very real. Cindy is inspired by my little sister. She keeps us amused with her hilarious talks. She just loves to explore things like Cindy.

I can relate well to Pristine, Cindy’s sister. She is calm and analyses everything. All my characters are witty, humorous, and musical. Since music is an integral part of me, I have composed some songs as well in it. May be when I grow a little older, I just might make a musical out of my stories, but that’s a far-fetched idea as of now! The thought, however, does fascinate me.

When I published my first book, I had no idea how it would be. We just searched for a publisher but the rest–formatting, illustrations, etc—were left up to me. I had no idea how it would look. So, I put only two illustrations. After that, I figured out all the nuances of making a book which needs a lot of other elements to make it look appealing. My second book has a lot of illustrations. I have made portraits of the characters which make it easy for the readers to relate to them. Then, I made bookmarks that have QR codes on them. You can scan the QR codes and open the webpage that shows my published books.

You also did the illustrations yourself. How did you conceptualise them?

Yes. I have been learning sketching since the Covid-19 lockdown. Sketching the characters helps me visualise them and relate to them better. As I sketched, I decided what the characters would look like. I felt that Cindy is vivacious and vibrant so she would have shoulder-length brown hair and a mischievous gleam in her eyes. For Queen Malmagie, I decided that she would have flaming-red hair with silver streaks and a long silver gown, with a mysterious aura about herself.

Samaira’s first fiction piece “Miss Helpful”

Who is the first person you showed your book to? Did they give you any suggestions or guidance?

I showed my book’s first draft to my mother, who patiently read it and was fairly impressed with it. She just insisted on putting some more illustrations. I always share my stories with my aunt to get her opinion on it as I know she reads every word of my story very critically. If something is amiss, we analyse it together. For this book, she was intrigued by the powerful message behind it.

What kind of reactions are you getting?

My first book was published last summer, during the lockdown. My family was super excited when we got our first copy. My father, who I have always seen reading only work-related documents, read my book with a big smile on his face. I felt so happy. At that time, I did not get the opportunity to meet Principal Ma’am Ritu Mehta. Fortunately, I got the chance to meet her this time and gave her my second book. Despite her hectic schedule, ma’am took out time to talk to me. The most rewarding part was when she said she was proud of me. No compliment can be bigger than this. Another memorable moment was when our library teacher, Shruti Kapoor Ma’am made my classmate read out the first two chapters of my book during the library class. These are incidents that keep one motivated to do better. Manjusha Das Ma’am, Abida Ahmad Ma’am and Shweta Roda Ma’am are always happy with my achievements and give me opportunities to show my talent.

How did your interest in fiction writing develop? Tell us about one of the first pieces that you wrote.

I started writing when I was eight. I would make tiny handwritten books which I would attach and make drawings on. My first story was handwritten and was named “Miss Helpful”. Then I gradually started typing them and drawing sketches on the blank side of the sheet. Shruti Kapoor Ma’am and Ritu Khanna Ma’am, our library teachers encouraged me by keeping the printouts of my stories in the library.

What kind of books do you like the most? Who is your favourite author?

Fantasy, humour, and books with happy endings have always interested me. I have a huge library at home and books are from various genres like fairy tales, biographies, non-fiction, mythology, fiction, and classics. I like the writing style of JK Rowling, Connie Glynn, Roald Dahl, etc.

Are you working on any other book now?

As of now, I am concentrating on my final exams, but I do have a few ideas. Once I am done with my exams, I will start working on my next project, which might be a sequel; I want to make a trilogy. Or maybe, I will explore a different genre altogether. I have been working on the French translation of “The Empire of Enchantments” and am very excited about that.

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Senior Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

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