‘Crossfire’, written by the extraordinarily talented young author Anantinee ‘Jhumpa’ Mishra, had its UK launch at the Nehru Centre in London recently.
The book details the story of Maris Mayor and her path of self-discovery and her bundle of mistakes in the past, paired with a heart-breaking affair. A tale of human life trapped in a web of lies and buried under the weight of her guilt and anguish, the 15-year-old author’s novel explores the storms that rage within us as well as outside.
“My parents have always fostered my creative writing; they have never attempted to push me towards anything I didn’t want to do. I have been blessed about that,” says Mishra, talking about how her love for creative writing began and thrived.
“Creative writing for me has a been stress buster, it has never been a task for me. I don’t think that is a holistic approach to creative writing.”
The book launch saw Mishra in conversation with Indian singer, actress, television personality and mindfulness speaker, Raageshwari Loomba, and touched on a range of interesting topics.
Process of researching
“I needed to find out whether guilt is truly something that grows the longer it festers within you,” says Mishra. Through her research into indentured labour and how people who have been through it deal with it, Mishra was able to construct her protagonist in a way which explores the feeling of not knowing where one belongs.
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Social media and mental health
Mishra – who is also a poet, content creator, TED speaker and podcaster and has five books published in her name – also offered some useful advice not only for upcoming authors, who may publish their work on social media sites, but also for young people in general who are particularly vulnerable to the negativity social media can spread.
“Social media can uplift you as well as pull you down. It can take you to unimaginable heights. When I published some of my poetry on there, the responses uplifted me immensely,” says Mishra, recounting her own experience as a new author.
Often, especially with younger users, there is a tendency to seek validation from others, and while that puts them in a more vulnerable position when it comes to negative comments, Mishra believes it is, in fact, completely “valid” and can even be used as motivation.
“I don’t think there is any author or poet in this world who would not feel absolute joy after hearing a compliment [about his or her work].
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“At the same time, social media also fosters a lot of comparison and envy which is so harmful to us, especially creative people,” she warns, saying that as with anything, social media is a balancing act. It is equally important to not let it affect one’s confidence too much.
Advice for budding authors
“One of the most common fears when you are publishing is thinking it is not good enough. ‘What if it only good in my mind or for my followers on Instagram?’ And that is a completely valid fear. It does exist,” explains the young writer.
Another prevalent challenge facing budding authors is finding a publication house willing to take on a fresh face and put faith in their work.
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“I would like to say that if no house is willing, then absolutely you should self-publish,” states Mishra, giving an example of how many publication houses rejected the renowned book series ‘Harry Potter’ before one agreed on publishing it.