Outside of school, a whole world of extracurricular activities is available to students. Some students choose to volunteer, take classes, or participate in club activities. Others may choose to take time to study, tutor their peers, or play musical instruments. However, some students, like Junior Neil Sadhukhan, are writing novels in their spare time.
Sadhukhan’s novel is a young adult dystopian fantasy in which a large, unacknowledged and unseen country suddenly starts to fight and conquer long-standing kingdoms in the hopes of achieving world peace. The main storyline follows a group of orphans living in a newly-oppressed city who attempt to escape and unite the remaining kingdoms against the ever-growing fanatic country. Among other things, modern fiction and young adult novels provided inspiration for his novel.
“It’s inspired by modern fiction like The Hunger Games, elements of Harry Potter, and The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin; that was a big inspiration for me,” Sadhukhan said.
He began his project in the summer of eighth grade, when he wrote the prologue of a story without any intention of turning it into the major project that it has become. However, in the time period between the summer of his freshman year and the beginning of his sophomore year, Sadhukhan began to build on the small prologue, working on the story more seriously.
“(I was) setting word requirements and things with the intention of actually publishing the book,” Sadhukhan said. “The goal is before college, to get it published.”
In order to write the novel, Sadhukhan works to find a balance between school, writing, and sleep. While his days usually end at midnight with writing, he catches up on his unfinished homework at lunch and has lunch at home at the end of the school day.
Although the novel itself is Sadhukhan’s brainchild, his mother has helped him on the project by reading the chapters and giving him specific feedback on his writing and characters. Sadhukhan also attributes the realization of his passion for writing to his freshman English teacher, Mrs. Gutierrez. To him, the novel represents his first step towards realizing his true dream; to become an author.
“The career path that I’m choosing is engineering, for practical purposes. This book means a lot in that it’s a step towards what I want to do versus what my parents want me to do,” Sadhukhan said.