During Covid lockdown Aryan Naidu decided to put his time to good use by writing short stories – and his first book recently hit the shelves.
I Promise Not to Bore You was written in 2020 during a year filled with turmoil as the world grappled with a pandemic. Aryan was just 12 when he went through lockdown with his parents, Dr Anushka Reddy (49) and Dr Mahesh Naidu (53), and brother, Vihar (13).
"I had so much time on my hands, so I started compiling stories. My parents were impressed and encouraged me to continue writing and two stories became 10 stories,” he says.
His book is a compilation of both fiction and non-fiction stories which include comedy, tragedy, Greek mythology and adventure.
Out of the entire anthology, his favourite is Highway Sheila, a ghost story about a woman who’s said to haunt Higginson Highway in Chatsworth, KwaZulu-Natal. It’s a popular urban legend in the Indian community.
Aryan has been to more than 20 countries, which has greatly contributed to his storytelling ability. Place he’s travelled to include Thailand, India, the USA, France, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Vietnam, Bali, Brazil and Argentina. His favourite place is the Amazon in Brazil, “because of its wildness and the amazing animals”.
He says his travels have made him curious about people, places and animals, which in turn inspired him to pursue writing.
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Although the book is aimed at preteens and teens, he says adults could also enjoy it. In fact, it was his father’s enjoyment of the stories that inspired the book’s title.
“My dad read it and said it was a captivating read. He said as a child’s book it didn’t bore him and that’s what inspired me to come up with the name.”
Aryan’s love of reading and writing started when he was little and his parents would read to him. He started reading at the age of four and it wasn’t long before he was tackling his first writing project.
“I composed a series of comic books at the age of 9 called Captain Fartypants, which I sold to family and friends. It was loosely based on my favourite character, Captain Underpants, and it told the hilarious story of a superhero whose strength was derived from farting!”
It took him six weeks to complete his book of short stories, which was published in December.
Mom Anushka, who works as an aesthetic physician, and dad Mahesh, a specialist physician, are only too happy to encourage their son's “wild imagination”.
“Writing is a wonderful outlet for a child‘s creativity and my advice is to always give them a gentle push for them to forge ahead with writing,” Anushka says. “Always offer positive words of encouragement, which does wonders for their self-esteem.”
The Grade 9 pupil describes his writing process as a “slow, drawn-out process without too much pressure”.
In addition to creative writing, Aryan also enjoys tennis and playing Minecraft. And he’s already planning his next book.
“I’m looking at writing a 200-page novel. I haven’t decided but it’ll be around the melting permafrost and what may be unleashed on the world.”
His advice for other aspiring young authors? “It’s easy to write a book. All you need is a crazy imagination, a pen and a piece of paper.”
His 53-page book is available on Amazon and in most bookstores and retails for R169.