NAME: Harsha Sheelam
PUBLISHED TITLES: Beautiful Inside and Out, Good Exists in All That Exists, The House of Terry Atterberry
BIO: Harsha Sheelam concentrates on the issues of today that young teenagers face, and tries to motivate the young children towards positivity. She chooses an unconventional way, quite different from the stories of yesteryears. Her fantasy tales empower young girls and boys to be strong, optimistic and confident. She believes that children have the inquisitiveness to learn more every day, and in the era where they are exposed to wide variety of media, books are the only way to sustain their innocence. She accepts that every person is beautiful inside and out and shouldn’t be put down by anyone who thinks otherwise.
Full of humor, wit, and insight; the short stories and novel champion hard work, perseverance, honesty, and compassion. The books have age-old and contemporary wisdom in a delicious form.
Q: Where are you from (City, State)?
A: I am from the city of Nawabs, Hyderabad, India.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: I have been writing ever since I was in school. I took it up more professionally only in 2016. That was the year when my journey into the writing world began.
Q: Who/What inspired you to begin writing? Did you intend to become an author, or do you have a specific reason or reasons for writing each book?
A: I always loved to write. I used to like all the short stories, comics, and plays I read at school and home. It kept me engaged in the literary world. I always wanted to be an author, but never thought it would really happen. I’m glad I had that opportunity to get my books published. Most of my stories are snippets from my life, the things I have experienced or seen others experience. I want to empower young girls and boys and help them cope up with our modern world. Bullying, racism, undermining, greediness, and so much more is prevalent in pop culture. I try to embrace children to stand up for themselves and believe that they are beautiful inside and out in a subtle and mild way.
Q: What genre(s) do you write? Why?
A: I enjoy writing fictional stories for children. I haven’t thought or gotten any idea to explore other genres. My debut novel is a juvenile fiction, that is, it caters to pre-teenagers. Not only do I get a chance to motivate young children directly or indirectly, but also, I receive the opportunity to explore my imagination, be creative, and thoughtful when I pen down my stories.
Q: Are your books self-published or traditionally published? Why did you choose your publishing preference?
A: I have authored three books which have been self-published. Self-publishing is a progressful option for authors in the digital world. We are advancing further into the book world by making the books available globally, and authors get to publish books at affordable prices. The fact that my books are available for parents and kids to purchase in any country is relieving. The concept of self-publishing was something I wanted to explore, but I am open to traditional publishing as well.
Q: Are you a full-time author? If not, do you plan to be?
A: I keep my mind constantly devoted to new ideas for the books. I graduated in Business Administration and will do my Masters in the same. A graduate in professional marketing is my plan for the next two years. Currently, I am combining my marketing skills for establishing my books in the book world. If I get to kick at the can and be a full-time author, I will do so adamantly.
Q: How many books have you published?
A: I have published three books, with another one in line. In order of their publishing date- Beautiful Inside and Out, Good Exists in all that Exists and The House of Terry Atterberry.
Q: When did you publishing your first book?
A: I published my first book in July 2017. It is titled, “Beautiful Inside and Out”. I wrote it with the aim to motivate children towards positivity. In the era when children are exposed to wide variety of media, books are the only way to sustain their innocence. Everyone is beautiful inside and out, and shouldn’t be put down by others who think otherwise.
Q: How was the publishing experience during the release of your first book?
A: It wasn’t easy. I wanted to have more illustrations in the books, but had no sources to get illustrators. The few I happened to contact couldn’t meet the deadline. Nevertheless, something is better than nothing, and I am happy with the illustrations. Apart from this, everything else went smoothly. Nervousness and anticipation took most space in my mind for almost a month, until the book was finally out.
Q: What is one of the biggest mistakes you made during the process of publishing your first book?
A: I wished I enquired about the illustrations, then I would have had more time to make queries with illustrators and give them ample time to design.
Q: What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
A: I have read most short stories of Ruskin Bond, Rabindranath Tagore, Graham Greene, and Roald Dahl. As a child, my grandfather used to give me Panchatantra and Chandamama books which had stories and poems by Indian writers. They truly had a strong influence on me. Robin Sharma’s ‘The Monk who sold his Ferrari’ was the second novel I read, because I haven’t been a fan of novel reading. That book had a considerable effect on me.
Q: Could you describe the details of your writing: How many hours a day to you devote to writing? Do you write a draft on paper or at a keyboard (typewriter or computer)?
A: I usually write at home and I do that when everyone is asleep. It’s very important for me to think clearly as I write and I can least likely do it with noise around. The hour bracket that I devote to writing vary between 3-8 hours in a day. It all depends on my presence of mind and creativeness at the respective day.
I draft at the keyboard. But before I do that, I draft in my mini book about the names of places and people, book title options, setting of the story, and the themes for the stories. This way it is helpful for later use and always stays as a memory.
Q: Do you write every single day?
A: I don’t write every single day. I can write at any given time, early morning or at midnight. But, I don’t think it is within my capacity to be equally creative everyday. Though I say this, back in 2016 when I began writing, I used to hustle between college and writing ever single day for magazines, news, books, and blogs.
Q: Do you have any writing rituals or routines?
A: The only ritual I need before and while writing is peace of mind. And, after I finish writing for the day, I have to feel satisfied with the work that I put across.
Q: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
A: I was so excited for my first book, that I completed writing 10 short stories in less than a week. Of course, that required me to be at my desk for long hours and burning the midnight lamp. It took about a month and a half for my novel and the second short stories book.
Q: Do you prefer paperback, hardback, or eBooks (reading and writing)? Why?
A: I prefer paperback or hardback books for reading and writing. I like to keep it traditional in this perspective. I enjoy reading a hard copy rather than a digital one. I wanted to offer the same enjoyment to kids as well and tried to make paperbacks available for purchase.
Q: If you could co-write a book with any author, who would it be? Why?
A: If it would have been possible for me to do so, I would say Enid Blyton. Noddy’s books will always be every child’s favorite. I think we share a similar kind of style when we write children’s books. Frances Hodgson Burnett, who wrote the novel ‘The Secret Garden’ is also someone I would have loved to co-write with. For the reason that we love enchanting secret lands that are yet to be discovered.
Q: What will be your next book release?
A: Hopefully, Poppydown Pals which is about four children, all 8-years-old living in the small town Poppydown near Apple Coast Castle. Pratt is the protagonist, he is chubby, kind, and honest, but he makes mistakes like all children do. But he never fails to learn from them. He learns to stay away from stealth, essence of festivals, loving others who are different from us, understanding appearances are deceptive, valuing the useful and not the ornamental, appreciating hard work over beauty, and protecting and caring for those who are vulnerable.
Q: What are some of your goals outside of being an author?
A: Two years from now I want to successfully complete my education and get to brand and develop companies in India or abroad. Complete two years of learning the Indian classical instrument, sitar. And, be happy and content with life at all times.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
A: Patience is key. Good things take time, it is important to not lose hope. Find ways to get yourself in the market, don’t let go of any opportunities that come knocking at your door, but also don’t wait for opportunities to come to you, go look for it.