Shriya Sekhsaria has penned her first novel “One” before she has stepped out of her teens, and is on her way of writing the second one
It was bed time in the dormitories of Cathedral Vidya School. As the lights went off, four students stayed wide awake. Because, Shriya Sekhsaria was about to tell a story to her friends. It was a story that was growing in her head for seven long years. It was about the three friends Tessie, Aley and Kiara who swore that they would remain together forever. As she narrated the story to her friends, Shriya would build up the suspense. And, her friends waited with baited breath to know what would happen next.
That is how her first book, One, took shape, says Shriya Sekhsaria. “I had to keep the story going to put my friends to sleep!” she laughs. The book, which has three sections, unfolds in Ibinia, a fictional island in Greece.
Shriya says by the final stage of the novel, she was totally immersed in the world she had created. “I was so curious to know what my characters were going to do. I had to get the story out of my system. And one night, I did, with gallons of coffee to keep me awake.”
Shriya, who is a class 11th student, has been busy. Besides preparing for her 10th standard final year exams, she also attended online literature and writing courses with Stanford and Harvard Universities.
“The online writing course actually helped me use different tools while working on the novel,” she says.
The novel has elements of romance, fantasy and mystery. Shriya found Greece the ideal backdrop for the novel. “I am fascinated by Greek mythology, especially the gods. In fact, I was influenced by Athena, a Greek goddess, while etching out the villainous character in the book, Cornelia. She is moody and has a devilish charm, which is one of her greatest weapons. ”
Shriya says she finds villains way more interesting than the heroes. “Even as a child, I remember watching The Little Mermaid television series for Ursula, the sea witch. I loved the Joker in Batman. My brother would find the dogs in 101 Dalmatians cute, but I was a Cruella fan.”
She has no intention to turn the book into a good versus evil fight.
“In fact none of my characters are fully virtuous. The villains are more central to my narrative and way more charismatic than my heroes,” says Shriya. She will soon be working on “Implosions”, the sequel to this book. “In this, you see another dimension of Tessie and Aley. They turn selfish and petty. Towards the end, everyone will get their hands dirty.”
One, published by Frog Books, is priced at Rs.195. It is available at the Crossword Bookstores in Fun Republic Mall.