August Featured Title: Helping Them
What is your writing process like?
Our August featured title is Helping Them by Yashavi Upasani! At only thirteen-years-old, she’s published her first book, written for the Fairfax County Times, and has even been on the news! Helping Them is your next mysterious middle grade read— from daily lunch meet-ups and breaking into hotel rooms, this is a story about a group of friends who set out on a mission to find a missing boy.
We chatted with Yashavi about her writing process, her student perspective, her inspiration for the characters and themes, and all that’s next for her! Read the full interview below.
When I write, it’s with good music, a can of soda, and a lot of concentration. For Helping Them, I outlined every chapter of my book before writing it, so I knew exactly where I was going and what I was writing about. After outlining everything, I wrote the book. The process took quite a lot of time, but it was certainly all worth it in the end.
How do you think your perspective as a student influences your writing?
Helping Them is a book that takes place in a middle school, and I wrote the book when I was in middle school, letting me be able to write about it in a way that is relatable to kids that are in school now. By writing about the school experience that I was living, I was also able to show how students, teachers, and all the people who go/work at schools act and talk in today’s setting.
At the heart of Helping Them is a cast of memorable characters. How did you create the characters? Are they based on real people?
The characters aren’t based on specific people, rather a combination of traits of myself, people I’ve met, and other qualities that make my core characters fit to work together. I created my characters with a mission of making the ultimate friendship dream team, sort of like a Scooby-Doo group minus the dog. I think that lots of people have always wanted a group of friends who stick together no matter what, and that’s what I wanted to show in my book—how a couple of good friends are all you need.
A major theme of Helping Them is standing up to bullying. Why is this so important?
I believe that our power of speaking up to things we see wrong is our greatest superpower. Whether it’s standing up to bullies, rising against bad guys, or fighting for things you believe in, it’s important to voice your thoughts and take action. It also doesn’t hurt to have a group of friends to help you. In my book, you can find the power of fighting for what you want with friends who are ready to help in any way, proving that despite your age, it’s never a bad time to stand up to your adversities.
What’s next for you? Is there another book in your future?
Since I learned how to write, I’ve been jotting down book idea after book idea. There is definitely no lack of inspiration. My next big adventure for myself, however, is battling high school, and what I could create in those four years is limitless.
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