Friday, September 25, 2020

Author Interview: Apeksha Rao, author of Along Came A Spyder


Apeksha Rao is a multi genre author from Bangalore.

She is the author of Along Came A Spyder, which is the story of a seventeen year old girl who wants to be spy.

Apeksha has written many short stories based on the same series, The Spyders, which are available on this blog.
She is a voracious reader, and a foodie.

Apeksha's current works in progress: A middle grade book, a chick lit featuring a detective, and a horror novel (the writing of which is giving her sleepless nights).

  1. When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?

  2. I used to make up stories even as a child and wrote my first story at the age of seven. But, it was only when I finished writing my first full-length novel that I realised how much I loved storytelling and decided to take it up full time.

  3. How did you come up with the idea for your current story?

  4. As a teenager, I used to fantasise about being an undercover spy, and I waited for someone to recruit me into RAW. Unfortunately, no one ever recruited me, so I got on with life. When I started writing seriously, this little idea of a group of teen spies kept knocking at my mind’s door, and I took it from there.

  5. What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?

  6. First of all, writing makes me ravenous. I have to keep eating when I’m writing, otherwise, I get hangry. What with my kids’ online classes, and the on-going marketing of my debut novel, it’s getting difficult to carve out a writing schedule, but I’m trying to write for three hours every night.

  7. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

  8. When I get stuck on one project, I work on another. Or I read.

  1. What are your current/future projects?

  2. I’m currently working on a historical adventure for kids and trying to outline a historical thriller for adults. 

  3. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

  4. I think I was born a teenager, and I will die one. I don’t have to work at the YA voice because that’s how I normally think and talk, which is why writing YA came naturally to me. The trouble with that starts when I try to write other genres, but I’m working at that.

  5. Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?

  6. I’m a hybrid author, actually. After I wrote Along Came A Spyder, I reached out to a literary agent, Suhail Mathur, of The Book Bakers, and he agreed to represent my work. He soon got me a traditional publishing deal with TreeShade Books, and my book was scheduled to release in April 2020. Due to the lockdown, we had to postpone the release, and I decided to release a novella on Kindle, The Itsy Bitsy Spyder, which was the prequel to this book. 

  7. What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc...)

  8. First of all, I’ve been lucky to have met so many wonderful writers and bloggers through my literary journey, who have now become close friends.

  9. I’ve also had the opportunity to conduct a couple of sessions with school kids, which is great fun! Recently, I had my very first Insta-live interview, and I look forward to doing more of those.

  10. What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you?

  11. I have been known to grab a piece of tissue paper and scribble feverishly, while the rest of my family stared in surprise. 

  12. Once, I dreamt of a story idea and wanted to write it down as soon as I woke up. But I had an early morning flight to catch, so I carried my notebook along, and outlined the whole story while waiting to board.

  13. What is the easiest/hardest scene for you to write, why? (Love, action, fight, death, racy, controversial, etc…)

  14. I can write action scenes quite easily. But I really struggle with romance. Ask me to describe a murder from a serial killer’s POV, and I’ll do it easy-peasy. But, ask me to write a love scene, and I will just burst into tears.

  15. What are some events you have attended or participated in that has been a positive experience/influence on/for your writing?

  16. I recently attended a workshop on writing for middle graders, conducted by India’s foremost authorities on children’s writing, Sayoni Basu and Anushka Ravishankar. That was a big help.

  17. I’ve also been handpicked for Anita Nair’s creative writing mentorship program, which starts in October. Hoping to learn a lot from that, as well.

  1. Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?

  2. It started off as a labor of love, but now it is a full-time career.

  3. Were there any challenges (research, literary, psychological, or logistical) in bringing your book to life?

  4. The biggest challenge was the COVID -19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown. The printers shut down on the very day that my book was to go to print, and that was a huge setback.

  5. What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

  6. Along Came A Spyder is India’s first YA spy fiction, the first of its genre. It has really strong female characters and is loaded with snark and humour.

  7. What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?

  8. When I was a child, my uncle gave me some writing advice that really resonated with me. I was just starting to write, and like all kids, I was obsessed with Enid Blyton. I tried to write something that was set in a world like hers, and obviously, I struggled with that, because it wasn’t my world at all. I was whining about that to my uncle, and he told me to write what I know. That’s the best advice I’ve ever had. For we write best when we write what we know.

At 17, Samira Joshi has only one dream in life.

She wants to be a spy. And why not?

Spying runs in the Joshi genes. Her great-grandmother was famous for sticking her nose in everyone’s business. Her grandmother had a flourishing side-business of tracking down errant husbands and missing servants. Her parents are elite intelligence agents for RAW. Yet, they want their only daughter to become a doctor. When she sees a college friend being trapped by a pimp, Samira does some spying of her own, and discovers the existence of a secret sisterhood of teen spies — The Spyders. And, she wants in!

The question is, do they want her?

Thank you for this amazing interview! I wish you success for all your future works. Keep writing!

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