The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


Student Spotlight: Freshman Iha Bharadwaj Publishes Her Third Young Adult Fiction Novel

By Staff Writers Shreya Srinivasan and Selina Yang

Freshman Iha Bharadwaj published her third novel last October, called Trisha Nair and the Quest of Amrit. She held a presentation and Q&A session for a crowd of all ages at the Fremont Main Library on March 18 where she discussed her inspirations, writing process, and experiences with publishing young adult fiction.

Bharadwaj first expressed an interest in writing in second grade when she became the youngest winner of  her elementary school’s Young Author Faire Competition. Though she wasn’t originally confident in the story, Katie’s Adventure, her mother encouraged her to continue writing, and her teachers offered to help with the editing. Katie’s Adventure, published when Bharadwaj was 8 years old, chronicled the exploits of a shapeshifter trying to save the world.

Recognition from her community and family manifested into a passion to write, and her mother became both her biggest fan and critic. Bharadwaj said, “A lot of people [will] tell me they like it, but my mom always gives me criticism. When she really likes it, she’ll tell me, but mostly she’ll give critiques.”  

She wrote two more books over the next few years. Her second book, Stranded, published in 2016, was inspired by Bharadwaj’s relationship with her sister. It tells the story of a brother and sister who are stranded after a plane crash. Trisha Nair and the Quest of Amrit will be Bharadwaj’s third book and the first of her new series. She incorporated elements of Hindu mythology after noticing the lack of Hindu influences in modern literature. She learned the wealth of her knowledge about Hindu mythology from her mother and grandfather. Studying the writings of other authors, such as American author Rick Riordan, has also allowed her talents and writing style to grow as well.

Bharadwaj said, “I’ve learned that [when] a lot of people think that doing something [is] unusual … they just think that it’s not possible. But, it is possible, if you have the right resources and the right people that can help you — then you can do whatever you want.”

While creating her first two books, she avoided sharing her achievements with the MSJ community, focusing publicity on her family and connections in India. Elementary and middle school teachers have helped her in the past, but not at MSJ yet. However, encouragement from her friends changed her mind, and once she introduced her third book to her peers, she was met with overwhelming positive feedback that reinforced her passion for writing.

Currently, Bharadwaj is working on the sequel to Trisha Nair and the Quest of Amrit, and has expressed interest in holding similar book talks as her writing career develops.

Photo by Staff Writer Shreya Srinivasan

Graphic by Web Editor Shiantel Chiang

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