Smitten With Words

Suzanne Sangi got her debut novel ‘Facebook Phantom’ published at the age of 17. Read this article in which she reflects on her enduring love for words, reading and writing.

My father often says that as a toddler, I used to crawl to a corner and grabbing a piece of paper and pen, I’d scribble away incessantly. Scrunching my eyebrows with concentration, I’d settle to read the same for a long time until other objects caught my baby-fancies.

And now, at eighteen, I often wonder if I was merely predisposed to write – whatever is in the DNA of those inclined to write or perhaps a whim of the gods. I remember a friend of mine in primary school who first introduced me to novels, under whose influence I graduated from Aesop’s Fables and Jataka Tales to Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia. Looking back, I can’t seem to thank her enough; this was what set my course – the dawn of a mind that would revel in the aesthetic pleasure invoked by words weaved together to create webs of the known and the even more alluring unknown.

The first thing I ever wrote was a song. I recall being so excited about my little piece that it soon became an inevitable entertainment number in any family get-together or whenever a guest dropped in at home. And then I wrote more songs and when I couldn’t figure out a tune for them, they became poems. Soon, I was fascinated with the idea of writing short stories like the Folktales I read; I wrote numerous stories about the poor fisherman who lived by the lake and the magic plate of plenty. I made everyone at home read my work and of course, I didn’t spare the guests either.

I grew up with the same ardor for books; I read when I was excited, bored, angry, tired or relaxed. Sometimes, I read from the time I woke up till I dropped asleep with my face still wedged between the pages; the words, still swimming in my sleep, would became real people and places. All this, I reckon, is what you’d call in Psychology a phase of ‘Preparation’ in the process of Creativity; a time of immense learning and acquiring of knowledge to create.

It was in the summer after my tenth board exams that I first attempted a full-fledged novel. I called it Facebook Phantom, owing to the rising popularity of the social networking site and my fascination for the paranormal. I had no solid plot when I began and often felt extremely inadequate as it seemed to me that every other writer had it all figured out from the start. However, the story weaved itself and at sixteen, I had written my first novel. Even at this point, I was hesitant to show my work to people with the notion that they wouldn’t take it seriously. With a little prod from two friends with whom I often discussed my writing and books, I approached certain publishers and the following summer, I was an elated seventeen-year-old with her debut novel published.

It simply appears to me that reading is where it all begins, giving one the ability and tools to express one’s thoughts in the most beautiful form of art – the art of words.

Suzanne Sangi’s debut novel Facebook Phantom was published by Duckbill.  

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