Meet Twelve-year-old Anusha Subramanian, India’s youngest published author, whose Heirs of Catriona launches this week. Aparna Karthikeyan reports
“It feels really good, I have done something to be proud of,” says 12-year-old Anusha Subramanian, India’s youngest published author. In a telephonic interview, Anusha, who resides in Mumbai, tells me that her biggest inspiration is her father Ravi Subramanian, author of best-selling corporate thrillers. “I was eight when my dad wrote his first book; when his book came out, he was so happy, I wanted that for myself!” And instead of just penning that down in her book of ‘things to do before I turn 40’, she sat down and wrote, Heirs of Catriona , which will be launched on December 28 in Mumbai.
Set in a parallel realm, Anusha’s Catriona is peopled with mythological villains and heroes. Sara and Crystal, the original heirs of the kingdom, fight their mean step cousin who has usurped the throne, aided by an evil Norse god who wishes to take over the world through violent means. The story follows the girls’ quest to find a moon-wand to defeat the evil forces. In the making for a little over a year, Anusha penned her 190-page book, mostly writing late into the night. “I’m a night person, and I’m naturally creative at night. My mum was very supportive and let me stay up if I wanted to write… sometimes, when I felt particularly inspired I sat-up till 11p.m. But I never forced myself to write,” she says.
A Seventh grade student, Anusha did not tell her friends she was writing a book, until she was sure it was going to get published. “When they got to know, they were surprised, and also very encouraging, just like my teachers and principal. I got positive reactions from everybody.” Many, among her friends, are avid readers, Anusha tells me, and gave her valuable feedback. Among her favourite authors, J.K. Rowling and Rick Riordan top the list. “Riordan’s Percy Jackson series was especially inspiring,” she says, adding that she loves mythology and history. “My grandparents told me plenty of stories from Indian mythology; and I enjoyed them immensely. Soon, I discovered Greek and Roman mythologies as well.” Her father, she says, kept her interest alive by buying her books on the subject, and when she decided to write a book, she threw in handfuls of Norse mythology. “I chose Norse mythology because it’s not very well known, even though a lot of words we use daily stem from it — like Thursday, which is named after Thor, the Norse god of thunder.”
Knowledgeable and confident, and at the same time, endearingly child-like, Anusha tells me that although people find mythology old-fashioned and grandmotherly, she finds it fascinating. ‘You really get hooked when you start researching it. But there’s not too much information on the Internet and not all of it is reliable, so you need books on the subject.” Besides, Heirs of Catriona is only the first of her books; she plans to write three more to complete the series.
Anusha has dedicated her first book to her family and friends, and also to two little cousins who, she hopes, will cherish the legacy she’s building up for them. “The publishers sent a copy of the book for me to see; it was so exciting, after all the hard work! I was jumping up and down,” she laughs.
For now, though, Anusha looks forward to the launch (the book is to be released by Suchitra Krishnamoorthi, noted author, actor and singer) and she is, understandably, thrilled and nervous at once. “My friends and teachers will all be there. I might speak, and some friends will read out parts of the book,” she says.
“You know, when you start writing a book, you get a totally different perspective of what goes into a book. I read books in a different light now; I think of how much time it would’ve taken to research something, or write a certain description,” she wraps up, earnestly.