In Conversation with Sumrit Shahi

What odds do you have on publishing a national bestselling novel, if you’re just 17, come from a business class family, are known to visit the principal’s office for all the wrong reasons and claim to be a laidback, not so pseudo intellect .Your head turns to the negative but then you meet Sumrit Shahi, now 18, a year older, a little richer, not much wiser (as he asserts!).

Proudly stating himself to be an alumnus of St John’s High School and Bhavan Vidyalaya, Panchkula, Sumrit, now pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Symbiosis School of Liberal Arts, Pune, is everything but what you would associate a conventional author with. Restless, a player with words, using puns and crisp adjectives, his writing is freshness personified.

With a keen interest in Public Speaking and a strong inclination for writing romance fiction, Sumrit is ready to come out with his next book, “A lot like love, a little like chocolate”. A practical love story, he adds. Answering to all the questions and sharing experiences in and out the first things first made me ask him

Snigdha Verma (SV)
Sumrit Shahi (SS)

SV: What made you start writing?
SS: Honestly, constipated tales being published in the name of the new age Indian fiction. Trust me, the overdose was killing and I had to, for the love for the language, come out with a book. I then joined The Crucible, a writing club at my Alma Mater St.John’s High School, and the next thing I knew, I was out with a book.

SV: Are all characters in your books fictitious or they have any resemblance with your life too?
SS: At the risk of being tried for invasion of ‘Right to Privacy’, I, hereby confess, A LOT of characters in JF or ‘A Lot like Love, a li’l like chocolate’ have their mortal counterparts. And trust me, most of the people aren’t complaining.

SV: Why the title A Lot like Love…a li’l like chocolate?
SS: Because Love and Chocolate are just so delicious yet dangerous. We all know the consequences, yet we crave for them. So here is a book where we have a guy and a girl, lots of hormone and emotion, the cliched settings, facebook, skype, blackberry, sneak outs, drunk nights, fights, everything yet it’s not a love story. It’s just a story which is a lot like love.. a lil like chocolate.( Okay I need a chocolate now!!.. laughs)

SV: Did this book meet your desired expectations as a writer?
SS: Somewhat, Yes let’s just leave the answer at this. I like one word answers. They make me sound so intellectual. (Grins again)

SV: Which is your next book and when are you planning to launch it?
SS: Next in line is the sequel to Just Friends, my debut national bestselling novel. It’s up for a winter release.

SV: You were 17 when your first book came up and now at 18, you’re next book is here, how has the experience been?
SS: Empowering. psychologically, emotionally, socially AND economically. The thrill of googling your own name and seeing a hundered links, of reading fan mail, of having pages dedicated to you on facebook, of inviting the envy and the smiles from the guys and girls, respectively of course. It’s been a crazy, hectic, fun life.

SV: How does “Sumrit Shahi” sees himself in next 5 five years down the lane?
SS: Slimmer, Richer, Happier, Playing golf with Chetan Bhagat perhaps on sundays. Then tea with Shobha De maybe.
On a serious note, I just want to be doing what I love, and what I love, is still something I’m trying to figure out.

SV: Did you face any difficulty while getting your book published? If yes, how did you manage it?
SS: Contrary to prejudice and perception, publishing was a relatively smooth ride. I sent in the sample chapters, my resume and things just fell in place.

SV: What is your message to the young writers like yourself, and how can a young writer get a platform to get their work published? Any tips?
SS: Dream. Please dream. Dare, Repeatedly. Believe in yourself. And if you get published, I don’t mind a free copy at all.

SV: First reaction of your family and friends after seeing the book?
SS: Teary eyed. Some of joy and some, well. But trust me, it’s an amazing feeling to make people who care for you proud and get famous. Legally.

SV: Did the young fame affect your behavior and routine skills..?
SS: Oh hell yes!

It’s a strange thing. This extra attention.
But I managed pretty well. A few words of advice, a lot of shouting at, by friends and family and I was sorted.

SV: Your debut novel was quite popular among the teenagers and youth what sort of response you received via mails and other socializing sites would you like to share any incident with us?
SS: Oh there have been plenty!
Perceived as an “Agony Aunt” who can solve the matters of the heart and friendship, that despite me having an emotional range of a caterpillar, I’ve been emailed and messaged repeatedly. All asking for advice.
From me, it’s a joke itself.

SV: Any organization you are presently associated with which helps young writers?
SS: No.

Snigdha Verma