Hong Kong student Anahita Kaman has clocked up six million readers of her first book, Falling Too Far. Mawgan Batt caught up with her.
How old are you?
I am fourteen years old.
Which school do you attend?
For the past year I have been attending Hong Kong International School, but before that I was at Kellett. I’m slowly working my way towards Hogwarts.
So how did you fall into writing?
As far back as I can remember, I have been an avid reader. My favourite book as a child was Harry Potter, so naturally I took it upon myself to write a Harry Potter rip-off. The result was an embarrassing mess. As I moved further up the school, I was fortunate enough to meet some amazing teachers who have helped me develop my writing skills into something much more acceptable. This led me to participating in the Hong Kong Young Writers’ competition in fourth grade, where my work was shortlisted and published.
What’s the book about?
It explores the life of a seventeen-year old girl, Noelle Richards, in her last year of high school as she is faced with many obstacles – social, mental, and emotional issues that seem to throw her into a danger zone.
What was the inspiration for the story?
I wrote the first chapter for my friend for fun. However, after discovering this incredible website called Wattpad, I decided that I should try to continue with it, maybe write a few more chapters. However, somewhere along the way I got whisked up into the whole magical writing process. Although the book does talk about typical high school life, it explores topics that I feel are not spoken about enough, such as relationship problems and mental illness that are not given the awareness that they should be.
What do you put your success down to?
To be honest, writing needs serious commitment. So often I would rather be watching Taylor Swift music videos, but I make it a point to dedicate my time to writing. I attribute much of my success to the Wattpad online writing community and its constant support – I honestly don’t think there is any other platform in the world that so openly welcomes young, unknown writers with such welcoming arms. It’s always eager to try out new books that haven’t made their way into the limelight yet. My book was recently ranked as number two in Wattpad’s teen fiction category and has just reached six million reads as well as over twenty thousand followers.
What is it that you love about writing?
There are many things that I enjoy about writing, but the main reason I love it is the idea of how I am creating a whole new world. Although it is completely made up, I somehow find myself getting attached to my own plotline and characters, so much so that their pain is my own, their happiness is the reason behind mine. As I have been writing and gaining readers, it has happened for them as well, and to really see them getting invested into the whole tale is truly magical.
How do you juggle writing and schoolwork? Each week, I dedicate at least five hours to writing the next chapter. Yes, it’s always a juggle with my schoolwork and other extra- curricular activities, but I always find a way to get round it as writing is something I truly enjoy doing.
Your fans have already created YouTube videos of your work and have offered to translate it into other languages. How does that make you feel?
It makes me feel very special, honoured and humbled. Honestly, the fans and readers of my book make me feel amazing due to their constant support in whatever I write.
Any tips for budding young writers?
Write something that you are passionate about, something that you can see yourself developing and finishing, because if you are passionate, you are committed. Along the way, you will have to make sacrifices, but if you work hard they will not be in vain. Another tip is to read a lot. Different periods in time, different authors, different genres – they will all help develop your writing.
Falling Too Far can be found under Kaman’s username on Wattpad.com. Kids4kids is running a writing competition, Writing for a Cause, for young people in Hong Kong. See kids4kids.org.hk for entrance details and deadlines.