Aayushi is a high school student of seventeen, who is driven by her fascination with Artificial Intelligence. Chasing her dreams in the world of words and fantasy, she brings it all together with her debut novel Underscore_. A young believer of actuality, she continues to derive inspiration from the unsparing realities of human lives and romanticizing them with the beauty of literature.
- Tell us something about yourself.
I am Aayushi, the author of ‘Underscore_’. And I am a seventeen-year-old high school science student with a huge canvas of imagination that I love to explore. Even as a kid I loved to use my imagination to create characters and make stories with them, and being the only child back then I had mastered the art of making imaginary friends and making them a part of my life at a very young age. I have been writing from the time I can barely remember; but as I can recollect I seriously took up writing when I was fourteen. I used to write poetry, because somehow those words made more sense than the ones in my head. Like every teenager, I had been through emotional ups and downs too and that was when I turned to jot down my deepest darkest fears on paper, because to me the verses of poetry made more sense than the typical conversations. For over three years, I just wrote for myself, never once sharing those pieces with anyone, because they were too personal and even today every bit of what I write is extremely personal. Back in the tenth grade, it was for the first time when I finally decided to share my poems with one of my friends and that was when it fell into my English teacher’s hands, and she asked me to share my work with the entire class. And before I knew it, my pieces were being read out in the assemblies before the whole school and that just got me even more addicted to writing. From then on, I had my poems in every assembly that my class had and I finally was motivated enough to let my words come out before the entire world. To be honest, it still feels so exhilarating and overwhelming to share this personal aspect of my life that no one has ever heard about. But I hope that sharing what those moments taught me would someday help someone like me to face it all in a way that I learned to.
- What compelled you to write this book?
Other than fantasy, Artificial Intelligence had always caught my attention. The idea that humans could be recreated in the form of robots and could be as good as the humans themselves was too intriguing for the fourteen-year-old version of me, and then I went on playing with my imagination to create this unnamed humanoid that was just a copy of humans. The way he saw the things were different from the way that we do, like the way a newborn would describe the people around and that was the point of view that I wanted to share with the world. How full of innocence can the world seem even at its worst and how difficult it could truly be to understand the complex emotions that we go through on a daily basis.
- From how long have you been writing this book? What challenges did you face while writing?
I had pretty much started plotting the story of a robot back when I had first learned about them, but I finally penned it down not more than six months before it got published. That was the time when I was a teenager too and had faced the most complex emotions that I couldn’t contemplate in the least. So I turned to writing as I always did and at that point I wanted people to see what I was going through or what anyone at that age goes through. Then I turned all of it to fiction and went to the extreme versions of each situation to bring the most out of them—the new feelings, the ignorance, the urge for perfection, the struggle to fit in and most of all trying to figure out our own place in this world. The only challenge that came up during my writing period was my studies. It had become extremely difficult to keep up with my work and my studies at the same time. I was always missing out on one of them; I couldn’t prioritize any one of them and at a point, I had almost started to lose grip on both. But thanks to my friends and my teachers who supported me enough to not let me fall behind on it.
- What is the most memorable moment for you throughout the journey of the book?
The journey of this book has throughout been a memorable one, swapping between studies and writing every second in between, it sure is something to remember. But one of the most unforgettable moments that I can recollect is that for the first couple of weeks after I had started working on this book, I used to make my friend read the first handwritten draft, which was mostly pencil scratching and scrolling that was supposed to make sense. Then when she would ask me what it all meant, I could barely contemplate my own handwriting because to be honest, it wasn’t really my best presentation. So the two of us would sit for hours in the classroom trying to figure out what those scribbled words and sentences meant. And then just brainstorming names and ideas and trying to study advance physics and chemistry like mad scientists so that we could come up with experiments and projects to mention that logically made sense in the story. Then when finally a concept made sense during an ongoing class, we just used to get so excited like those were our Eureka moments.
- Is writing your hobby or passion?
Writing to me is more than just a hobby or passion, maybe I am exaggerating a bit but it is as important as breathing to me. Writing has been my escape in the darkest times and at my lowest moments; it has been my constant rock. Most of the times when I felt lost, I have turned to writing to find myself and somehow just writing down my thoughts in the form of poetry or letters has just been very therapeutic. Even though it all started as a coping mechanism and an escape from reality, writing has now become the way I face it all.
- Are you planning to write again?
Yes, I have been working on a couple more projects, rather the long-term ones, but obviously I would bring my complete focus to them once I complete school. And actually this book isn’t the first book I have ever written, though it is the first one to be published since I had started very young. I have a couple more books already drafted which now I have added to a project of a much larger scale, which I have been working on for a very long time now. If possible ‘Underscore_’ may even become a duology but I haven’t completely planned it yet. But all I can say is that there is a lot more coming soon.
- Do you believe that when an author dies a reader is born?
I personally do believe that the addiction to words can never die; so either as a reader or as an author, the love for words and literature always persists. And the fact that exploration is the key there is no one way to explore. Every author was once a reader who wanted to create a world of their own and every reader is that explorer who chooses to believe in the reality of those worlds. And that is what keeps them going, the lust for words and the search for solace in different universes of an author can never become extinct, and that is the legacy continued forward by a reader who believes in all those things that are created out of one’s imagination.
- For you, what is literary success?
Literature and writing to me have always been a method of communicating and reaching out to people. We all have had bad times that maybe no one knows about, but these can be a survival guide to someone else; and that is what literary success means to me, to make people aware about the harsh realities of life that most of us tend to ignore just because it is a safer option, letting those ideas out to the world in a way that they just seem less frightening. And that is what exactly fiction does.
- Do you have any piece of advice for the budding authors out there?
All I would like to say to all those young authors out there is that there is no such thing as a perfect piece of writing. The way you chose to express is what matters and what counts and maybe there are times when you run out of ideas, but the best thing about storytelling is that there is always a story that is left untold. If you ever feel that there is nothing left to say, just look inside yourself and you’ll find an entire universe waiting to be explored because I believe that exploration is the key to creativity. And what I have learned by writing for almost all my life is that there is no one way to find inspiration to write, and that is what differentiates a great author from a good author. A good author is the one who looks around for stories, whereas for a great author there is a story in everything present around. The vision to discover stories you want to tell and the lessons of life that you want to share is all that makes you a great author.
- What it’s like to be with 24by7 Publishing?
This was my first time publishing a book. Before 24by7 Publishing, I had contacted a few more publishing houses. But what caught my attention the most about this one company was the fact that they worked so efficiently to complete the entire process within two weeks. Furthermore there was so much transparency in their work like asking for confirmation at every step and keeping me updated all the time. Also, their worldwide reach is greatly admirable. As a young debut author, worldwide exposure to my work is a very big step in my writing career, and all thanks to such a wonderful team of 24by7 Publishing for working so effectively and efficiently and making the entire process as much more simple for a debutant than it actually seems.
Book available on multiple platforms:
24by7 Publishing Online Store: https://shop.24by7publishing.com/product/underscore_-by-aayushi-sci-fi/
Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08CCBT2ZC
Apple iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1523558158
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