19-year-old Mythili Zatakia is ready with her debut novel The Chase, which she hopes, will connect with teenagers
Q. The book is an account of personal experiences, which is not exactly how a conventional storybook goes. What inspired you to write this book?
A. The inspiration came from the sheer confusion with regard to the choices I needed to make to establish a definite career path. It prompted me into finding a method in the madness. Writing about experiences that altered my thought process was a refuge that gave me direction. At 19, you're raw, unsettled and unpredictable. I had to use that whimsicality to my advantage by expressing how I feel about all the pursuits I was 'chasing' and decide what the eventual goal is.
Mythili Zatakia with her title The Chase (Partridge, Penguin-Random)
Q. How did you find a publisher, given the fact that this is your first book? Were there any problems?
A. I found them listed online with a host of other publishers and agents that I had approached. Initially, all the agents I interacted with expected exorbitant commissions to pitch for my book, a practice that I didn't want to employ. When my manuscripts were accepted by a few, and interested publishers sent me their terms of contract, I realised that I'd lose control over the content of my book if they edited it to their liking. When I got in touch with Partridge, they were positive about taking it forward as it was and I concurred with their policy of launching the book online and selling it only through internet portals like Amazon, Flipkart and Barnes & Noble. Because most people today, purchase things on the web. Their marketing strategy was to utilise social media for promotions, which, I believe, is the best way to get through to our tech-savvy generation. They evaluated the content of my book, ensured I was involved in every process and I had my say as well. It's been a wonderful learning experience, since it's my first novel.
Q. Which age group do you expect your audience to be? Why?
A. I don't think I can confine my 'chase' to a particular age group. While any teenager's most definitely going to be able to relate to it, given the ample opportunity coming our way that sometimes causes us to get all mixed up, I think anyone who's grown through this period in their lives is likely to be an interested audience. The book aims at generating a sensitivity towards the young who stand at a precipice, all set to take that leap of faith in addition to being a refreshing reminiscence of the past for those who've walked in our shoes.
Q. Your book has a set of poems as well. As a writer do you prefer writing stories or poetry?
A. I'm more inclined towards writing stories. It's fun to tell tales. I'm quite the moody poet. Erratic is my middle name. So, I'd like to surprise myself.
Q. Your book mentions that you travelled extensively. What did it teach you?
A. Travel taught me gratitude, and I think everyone needs to feel it. We take so many of the things, that people do for us, for granted and never thank them enough. But when you're out there, on a solo travel encounter, you become conscious of the value of all the people in your life because they've made you who you are.
Q. Dropping out of college and going on a trip is not regular, for a teenager, in India. What were the obstacles that you faced?
A. The first obstacle was convincing myself. I had to learn how to walk away from something that no longer served me, helped me grow or made me happy. Once I was sure that my journey was going to be anything but confined to a classroom, I had to reason with my parents. We struck a deal. Financial independence was key. The Chase was my responsibility. I worked in theatre productions, took up a journalism internship, to save up for my travels. I took off once I felt I had enough. The safety concerns taught me vigilance. I came back crawling with stories to tell. I had discovered my purpose.
On: Today, 6 pm (book release)
At: Kitabkhana, Fort.