The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


Student Spotlight: Aashka Pandya

By: Staff Writer Adele Shen


While most students at MSJ churn out essays right before the due date, Senior Aashka Pandya has been perfecting a certain 88-page novella for the last three years. Published by Lekha Publishing on September 14th, Price of Being Ashley Rich marks Pandya’s debut in the writing world. The Smoke Signal recently sat down with Pandya to talk about her experiences with the writing process.

Smoke Signal: What was your inspiration for this book?

Aashka Pandya: I think you can find inspiration from anywhere. For me, the motivation to write this book came from the excitement of having a book in my name and from my teachers and parents, who encouraged me to finish draft after draft.

SS: Can you tell us a bit about your book?

AP: The book is targeted towards tween girls, and is about a rich girl (aptly named Ashley Rich) whose father is the CEO of a powerful cosmetics company called Plumeria. The company gets a toxicology report saying there is a toxic chemical in their base ingredient and it gets shut down. It is later revealed that the father of Ashley’s best friend, Alexa, is the one who sent out the report that shut Plumeria down. Drama ensues, and a lot is revealed, including the relationship between the two fathers and what happened to Ashley’s long-lost mother.

SS: Could you describe the process of writing the book?

AP: The process is a very long one. I took classes at Lekha, starting three years ago. They publish the stories written by the students in their top class. For me, it took three years to write the entire story and have it edited and published. The process starts, obviously, with an idea, which is developed into a first draft. After that is done, it is sent to the editors to look at. The editors tell you to make changes, and from there, it’s months of back-and-forth between you and the editors, perfecting the book and coming up with a final draft. Then, the book cover is designed and you tell the editors which fonts you would like and how you want the book to be formatted. Once a copy is printed, you have the option of sending the book to a reviewer, which I did. I sent it to Kirkus Reviewers, who take 4-6 weeks to get back to you with a review. Luckily, my review was a positive one, at which point the book was officially published.

SS: Are there any anecdotes or particular struggles with this book?

AP: Choosing the title of the book was almost as much of a challenge as writing it. The original title was “Rich vs. Germs”, but the editors told me to change it. I then came up with “Rich in Love”, but the editors informed me there was a movie already out there with the same title. Finally, I proposed “The Price of Being Rich”, which was modified into the final title, “The Price of Being Ashley Rich”.

SS: Do you plan on writing more or taking writing further?

AP: Writing has now become a form of release for me. Whenever I feel emotional about something, I sit and write about it in the form of fiction. It helps me understand my emotions and organize my thoughts, and I feel a lot better. Therefore, writing will always be a part of me. I plan to do filmmaking in college and hope that I can bring some writing in the form of screenplays there as well.

Aashka’s novella is on sale at, and all proceeds will go to charity.

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