Writing a novel is child's play for this 10-yr-old
Mahim-born Akshaj Mehta seems well on his way to writing his own destiny. Nominate Exceptional Youth Category in the prestigious N Factor Awards and having recently published his third book, E-Tron, the 10-year-old Indian American prodigy looks set to add more titles to his portfolio.
Akshaj Mehta at his favourite place in the world, his writing table
This student from Natomas Charter School's Star Academy in Sacramento, the capital city of the US state of California, was ready with his first book, Super Mouse in January 2014. Super Mouse is a fictional chapter book about a mouse blessed with superpowers, and how he fights against the Cheese Monster to save Mousecity.
At the time, the prodigy had donated 100% proceeds from its sales to the Sacramento Children's Home. His second title was The Robot Mind Game, published in November 2014 (NANO Writing Challenge). Another book that is ready is Sunken that he wrote in June 2014.
E-Tron is a pre-teen novel that was published in April 2015. The novel deals with the relationship between 21-year-old Emmanuel and his grandparents; here, the young boy sacrifices his freedom to fulfill their dreams for him to join the military.
Like his other titles, he will donate the proceeds; this time, to Make-A-Wish. He's also penned 16 short stories, three articles, two essays and three poems. Last year, Akshaj earned a partial scholarship from University of California Davis for a young writer's workshop.
He loves making trailers for the books he reads. His collection includes Roald Dahl, Maze Runner, Diary of Wimpy Kid, Geronimo Stilton, Minecraft, Panchatantra, Tin Tin, Horrible Harry, Percy Jackson and the Harry Porter series.
Apart from writing and reading, he is a keen pianist since he was a second grader; in fact, he's mastered the Star Wars Theme. His parents inform us that he is learning to code, program in Java, as well as design video games.
Excerpts from an email interview with Akshaj Mehta
Q. How and why did you get hooked on to writing?
A. I started composing poems when I was 4 years old. It escalated from there, and I wrote my first story, Adventures in Pyramids for the PBS writing contest in 2012.
Q. Do you see yourself take up writing as a career?
A. My aim is to get into either Harvard or Stanford for my higher studies. I want to pursue writing till I am 70 years. I want my books be Cadelcott medal winners. I want to become a NASCAR driver, a movie director where I get to direct stories from my books, be a Lego design engineer and write manuals for instructions and safety. I also want to keep reading books to kids in the library even when I grow old.
E-Tron, which is Akshaj's latest book
Q. Who are some of your favourite writers? Do you idolise any of them?
A. Some of my favourite authors include RL Stine, RJ Palacio and James Dashner. I do like to read about Hindu mythology, like the epic, the Ramayana. I am a big fan of fiction books. I do not idolise any authors or writers.
Akshaj's titles are available on Amazon, Kindle, NOOK, iTunes and Google Play.
Sumiti and Sudeep Mehta, Akshaj’s parents
Q. When and how did you notice Akshaj’s flair for writing? How did you ensure there was no unnecessary pressure on him?
The first time we noticed his love for putting words together was when he was 3-4 years old. He composed his own simple poem comparing beauty of flowers in the backyard with his mom.
In 2012, when he was in first grade, and while reading the encyclopaedia, Akshaj was intrigued by the idea of Mummies in Egypt; so, he decided that he wanted to learn more about them. As he delved deeper into the study of Egypt, he decided to write his first story, Adventures in Pyramids, which was submitted for the PBS writing contest, where he was appreciated for his writing.
Since then, there has been no stopping. He has written voraciously in the form of essays, poems and short stories. He wrote a nearly 1,000-word novel called The Robot Mind Game for National Novel Writing Month in November 2014.
Akshaj is a self-motivated boy. He has many other interests and hobbies. As parents, we have always encouraged him and have provided platforms to meet his creativity needs that go beyond writing and reading, to music (he is a talented pianist) and designing of video games as well.