In Conversation with Aayushi Pandey

Aayushi Pandey, a passionate girl of fourteen, became one of the youngest authors of North India when she published her book "Okozbo: The Fights" at thirteen years of age. "Okozbo: The Fights" is a thrilling ride full of suspense recounting the journey of a boy Tavish who finds himself to be chosen for a quest to save the world, discovering a fascinating new world on the way.

What are some things about you everyone should know?
I’m a home-schooler, author, amateur astronomer, self-proclaimed sketch artist, nerdfighter, dancer, and science enthusiast. If everything goes the way I plan, I aspire to be a physicist one day. I love writing and I think it’s one of the best ways to relax yourself and also disturb yourself. My first book was released when I was 13.
What else? I frequently crack jokes that no one laughs at, nor understands. I love pizza and I love books. I also love most sorts of challenges life throws at me.

What is the inspiration behind naming your book ‘Okozbo: The Fights’?
Well, I started writing ‘Okozbo: The Fights’ when I was 10 and the name didn’t strike me for two years. Since there are these magical objects called ‘The Fights’ in my book, I was sure I wanted to include them in the name. But the final name just made its way through my brain and popped up right in front of my eyes before I even knew it.

When did you first start writing, and what was the driving force behind it?
I have been reading and writing for as long as I can remember. When I was 6, I knew I wanted to be an author. By 7, I had written my first detective short story. But writing a proper novel is different because sometimes you feel extremely worked up. I think in those times my imagination had been the driving force. I also tend to feel very inspired when I read the works of other authors.

Do you believe fictional objects like the Fights exist in reality?
If only it were that easy! In my book, the protagonist and his world hides everything from us ‘normals’. So even if they did exist, we would believe that they did not. So I’ll say “no”; I don’t believe they exist, but I’d like to leave out that tiny space for “yes” if we ever find out.

Name one fantasy location you would like to visit.
Um… Camp Half-Blood or Mordor. Or no… the Star Wars universe. Gosh, this is confusing. Or no wait… Hogwarts. Definitely Hogwarts.

Did the love for science fiction arise from a love for physics?
For me, yes it did. My love for science fiction arose purely after I indulged into physics. But I’ve seen people who went the other way round: they loved science fiction and then they wanted to try out physics or biology or something.

What are some other activities you vest your interest in?
Most of my time is spent studying or writing or dancing, so you’ll usually find me doing one of these things. Other than that, I blog often. I sketch when I have time. Occasionally, I play guitar. I tried play-writing for a brief time.

Would you call yourself a science freak or an art fanatic?
That’s a tricky one! I’d say I’m a little bit of both. I love physics and math just as much as I love writing and when I do either of these, I lose track of time. I like stoichiometry just as much as poetry. But if you insist on one, I’d say science freak.

According to you, is Schrodinger’s Cat dead, or alive, or both?
Oh, it’s both. It is definitely both.

Do you believe that a fantasy universe exists beyond a black hole?
Well, if it did, it won’t be called fantasy, would it?

Have you ever done something that surprised you?
I once drew a perfect circle without a compass. Then I sketched it into a scientifically accurate moon. I also drew a straight line without a ruler once and that was the only one time I could do it. And when I was 12, I derived one of Einstein’s very basic equations by imagining Adam in a spacecraft and Eve spying on him. It was hilarious!

Describe an ideal Saturday in your life.
I’d probably spend it reading about black holes or doing trigonometry. If I’d I take a break, I’d write. And I’m pretty sure I would want a pizza on my ideal Saturday. With double cheese and extra mushrooms' topping.

What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on the sequel of ‘Okozbo: The Fights’. It is taking a little longer because of all the studies, but it’s going to be awesome! It will be more complicated than the first one, with more twists and surprises. And I’m thinking of being slightly cruel and leaving it at a cliff-hanger. I’m also working on that moon sketch I was telling you about. Apparently, drawing a reflection of a scientifically accurate moon in water, keeping in mind the lights and tones is not so easy.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Ten years down the line, I see myself doing research. With my calculation, I’ll be doing my PhD in physics. I would also be writing… something other than my research paper, I mean! I hope to continue dancing since it’s one of my few pleasures of the world. Lastly, and most importantly, I think I’ll be happy. You see, so far I’ve done things which have made me happy. It really doesn’t matter what someone says or what someone believes. It ultimately comes down to your happiness. So if I continue to do what I want to, I don’t see why I won’t be a satisfied soul!

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