Most of the audience members were eager to know how Shreya, in her early twenties, managed to write a book at such a young age.
Shreya, an English teacher at Vasant Valley School, began writing when she was 13. As a young girl and a budding writer, she discovered fan fiction, and ever since, has written in that genre, relatively unknown in India.
“A lot of my writing is inspired by fan fiction. I visualise stories as scenes and there are cliff hangers in my stories,” explains Shreya, a graduate of St. Stephen’s College, Delhi.
From the excerpts read out at the launch, it was clear that Shreya’s strengths as a writer are in descriptions and characterisation. Her writing is lucid, though not too literary.
Writing, Shreya admits, doesn’t always happen naturally.
“There are days when I don’t like writing at all, but I force myself to do it. I also don’t write while working,” explained Shreya, during a conversation with Revathi Kolangani at the launch.
Shreya says she’s self critical as a writer. “I keep re-reading and improving on my writing.” An organised writer, Shreya’s advice to budding writers is to hone their craft. “Some people get daunted by 60,000 words. You should divide the work and always plan before you write.”
Another Chance At Life is about relationships and the lessons life teaches you about acceptance and growth. It tells the story of Aditya Arora whose girlfriend, Neela, succumbs to cancer. As he tries to come to terms with his loss and joins college to start a new life, he encounters Neela’s father, Professor Krishnan. And his first year in college turns out to be a nightmare.
But with help from his friends Kaveri, Justin and Mausammi, Aditya faces Krishna’s anger and spitefulness. The book has been appreciated for its nuanced approach to relationships.
Shreya has also co-scripted a short film Kuch Spice to Make It Meetha, featuring Purab Kohli, for MadMidaas Films that was a surprise hit on youtube.
“My obvious choice for Aditya would be Purab Kohli if Another Chance At Life is ever made into a film.”
To Revathi’s question on whether anyone stereotyped her book, Shreya said: “One of my friends said the story sounds like the plot of Mohabbatein, the Hindi film. It is a dramatic story, but I have tried to make my characters as real as possible. Aditya is a generic character with whom a reader will be able to relate. The story is about how he wants to go to college to get another chance but can’t really escape from his past, even though he wants to.”
Another Chance At Life is a Penguin publication, priced at Rs. 199.