Author Interview - Jiya Gupta

1.  Can you tell us a little about your book? 

I think the first thing I would like to say is that this isn’t a book. The word book makes it sound so impersonal. I would say it is a ‘published diary’ of sorts. Through poems that have a mesmerising rhythm, I have penned down my thoughts and opinions. I have fearlessly written about topics that everyone thinks about, but are unable to freely converse about. Some topics hit close to the heart, while some seem foreign. But all poems reflect a topic that is relatable to every individual. Unaffected by the barriers of age, this compilation of poems presents my views as food for thought to its readers. Following each poem is an activity that gives my reader the opportunity to reflect on what they have read and navigate their views on that topic. The activities are simple, profound, and interactive. All these elements help drive home the vision and mission of the book: to resonate, mirror the concerns of the readers and provide them with a different perspective. It’s a book written by a young thinker, for all the thinkers and visionaries out there. 


2.  Is there a specific event that inspired this story or was this an out of the blue idea?

I wouldn’t pin point a certain event that inspired this collection of poems but I can definitely attribute it to a certain period of time in my life. On one hand, with age came maturity and certain understanding of these nuanced topics. My in depth studying of the disciplines Sociology and Psychology helped me analyse these topics like never before. I was able to ask the important questions: Why? When? What? How? These questions helped me develop my beliefs and a well-rounded perspective. The pandemic also gave me that much needed push. It gave me time to ponder and reflect on my role in society. Examining these topics using a psychological and sociological lens I was able to let my emotions flow. The result: 26 poems that came from my heart and I felt extremely strongly about.  


3.   What got you writing in the first place? 

My poetry writing has a very unusual origin. It first appeared at the back of my English and Hindi compositions in school, where I sought to leave a lasting impression on my teacher’s by going an extra mile. Their kind words encouraged me to persist on my journey as a poetess. Whether the topic was writing on a festival or a descriptive experience, a poem always helped me summarize my views and mesmerize my readers. I started writing poems on topics beyond my academic curriculum as I was introduced to topics of discussion in my society. I now wanted to use the ‘power of my pen’ to make a difference that would echo with all. I wanted a larger platform to express my views and wanted my words to encourage people and spread awareness. 


4.   What was your impression of your first draft when you read it?

It was an unexpected concoction of happiness, constructive criticism, and nervousness. It seemed almost surreal and too good to be true. I was proud that I had been able to go on this wonderful journey of transformation and self-discovery. The graphics seemed to effectively tie up the whole experience beautifully. There was this sense of accomplishment and satisfaction I felt that seemed bigger than other achievements of mine. My dream had begun to be materialised!


5.   Which part of your story connects the most with you? Why?

This is an extremely difficult question because all the topics of the poems have been chosen with this very thought of relatability. The poems like ‘x-axis’ and ‘zero’ connect on an academic level, while the ones like ‘identity’ and ‘journey’ resonate on a spiritual level. The poems on ‘beauty’ and ‘stereotypes’ helped me navigate my role as a teenager. The entire book connects with me as each topic is a representation of something close to my heart and those that mirror my emotions on all levels.


6.  What makes your book the one to read?

It’s not a tiring or a boring read, as it has topics that we all think about and read about across our social media platforms. These ideas and concepts too are not explained in plain prose, but through rhythmic verses of poetry. This makes for an interesting and different read. The activities between each poem provide the much-needed break to stop, think, and reflect. The words are not fancy, the graphics are visually pleasing, and it is written with a clear purpose in mind: to entertain, energise, and evoke thought and emotions.   


7.  What was the best advice you got while writing? 

While writing, I had this habit of nervously visiting my poems and fretting about my choice of words and train of thought. The best advice I got was just to be myself and write fearlessly: unafraid of my choices, unfettered by the looming edits. Just write from my heart. Let the words flow and compliment my thoughts, not the other way around. I feel this helped me develop as a writer and poetess as I became more confident about my choices. My fear was replaced by a passion to write, explore, and learn. 


8.  Who’s your all-time favourite author? Which book of his/hers made you fall in love with them? 

Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata struck a chord with me. The effortless way in which the poet has discussed spirituality left me in awe. His clear messages to open one’s heart, polish our spirit, nourish ourselves, and balance life were complimented with simple, relatable words. Each line seemed didactic in nature as it brought upon a realisation about the problems of life, but at the same time left us with a profound message: Life is inherently beautiful. 


9.   What is your evergreen tip to the writers out there?

I don’t have much experience, but I would say write about something that is close to you, or you feel strongly without. It is then only that a passion is evident in your words and that emotion arises from each syllable. It is here your writing breaks the confines of the brain and touches the heart. The goal of all writers should be effect and affect. It should have a profound effect on the rationality of the readers and their emotional and mental states. Use the ‘power of the pen’ to give power to your voice. 


10.   Do you have another plot brewing?

I have an idea to write an activity and poem/article book which is primarily for children. This will present topics that the younger lot need to be educated about. The poems will have a more educative role in imparting awareness about topics that need to be spoken about. Another idea is to write a book based on what lessons different types of food give teenagers. This will be a quirky, new way to present life-lessons .


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