Alumni Author: Fearless Sia – Saurabh Akhauri, PGP 2004

Introducing Saurabh Akhauri, a creative storyteller who embarked on his writing journey with a distinct purpose. Inspired by a captivating school assignment, his creative exploration led to the inception of the groundbreaking “Fearless Sia,” the first-ever Write Along book. The concept empowers readers to actively participate in shaping the narrative, showcasing an innovative approach to storytelling.

As a seasoned author, Saurabh brings a unique blend of creativity and interactive storytelling to the literary landscape. His narrative journey unfolds with unexpected twists and turns, driven by the desire to offer readers a dynamic and personalized experience. Through “Fearless Sia,” he challenges traditional storytelling norms and underscores the transformative power of narratives in shaping our understanding of the world. Discover the world of Saurabh Akhauri, where storytelling transcends boundaries, inviting readers to become co-authors of their own adventures.

What inspired the creation of “Fearless Sia” as the first Write Along book, allowing readers to actively participate in shaping the storyline?

It all began with a captivating school assignment that my kids brought home – designing a book cover. After they completed the visual aspect, I suggested taking things a step further by crafting a story inspired by their creation. As I sat down with them to assist in the writing process, I was pleasantly surprised by the multitude of ideas and potential plot twists that led to various outcomes.

This experience sparked a thought – why not empower readers to become authors themselves? Drawing inspiration from the likes of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, where readers might envision different character paths and outcomes, I conceived the concept of A Write Along.

Taking a year and a half to conceptualize the idea, I wrote a story designed to allow readers, or co-authors, to dynamically shape the narrative at specific junctures. Throughout the novel, approximately 25-30 points present opportunities for readers to alter perspectives, solve problems, exercise creativity, employ imagination, anticipate events, and engage in dialogue writing. This interactive approach ensures that, regardless of the choices made by readers, the continuity of the book remains intact, offering a coherent and engaging storyline.

Fearless Sia stands as the inaugural Write Along book, introducing a girl’s adventurous journey. The story unfolds in a way that grants readers the power to create different perspectives, solving problems, writing creatively, using the power of imagination, anticipating events, and engaging in dialogue writing at various points. This unique approach keeps readers deeply involved, and each person concludes the journey with a novel that reflects their individual choices and creative input. The concept of A Write Along transforms the traditional reading experience into an interactive and personalized storytelling adventure.

What makes the “Write Along” concept easy for readers to understand and engage with as they shape different parts of the story?

In crafting our book, we’ve adopted a straightforward structure that condenses any story into a fundamental line: someone somewhere wanted to do something, faced challenges, and emerged victorious. This narrative blueprint unfolds from a single line in the introduction into five distinctive sections: beginning, end, challenges, events, and solutions. Each of these sections branches into different scenarios, providing readers with the unique opportunity to actively shape and contribute to the unfolding narrative.

Breaking down the story into these specific segments serves a dual purpose. Not only does it allow readers to participate meaningfully in the book’s creation, but it also provides them with a comprehensive understanding of the subject. This clarity becomes particularly valuable during pauses in the narrative, where readers can seamlessly insert their own ideas and contributions.

The term “Write Along” embodies the concept effortlessly, fostering an intuitive connection for the reader. This self-explanatory approach not only makes the reading experience more engaging but also simplifies the explanation of the unique concept behind the book.

How has the reception of the book been in your experience?

I didn’t initially write the book with an international audience in mind, but as I concluded the writing process, I intentionally made the content more universally relatable. Upon its launch, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the book performed equally well in both India and the US in terms of numbers. Initially expecting the book to resonate with readers aged 11-16, I found it intriguing that many of my experienced colleagues enjoyed both the writing and reading experiences. They expressed joy in tapping into their creativity after many years.

What surprising or impactful experiences have you encountered from readers engaging with your book?

Actually, quite a few. One of my colleagues purchased the book, and I believe it was during the Dussehra vacations here in India. She had a house full of teenagers, and “Fearless Sia” happened to be the only book available to them. She left them with the book to read, and when she returned to the room, she discovered that the kids were engaged in role-playing based on the story. As an author, it was truly surprising to see how the pauses in the book could be creatively utilized for imaginative play by the kids. It just highlights the incredible creativity that children can unleash.

In another instance, a senior teacher from a juvenile correction facility in the US reached out to me. She provided my book to a teacher working with a reserved and limited boy in the facility. Over about six weeks, there was a remarkable transformation in the boy. He began expressing himself more and opened up in ways that were previously unseen. I was deeply humbled to hear about this. It underscores the notion that this style of writing isn’t just about creativity and imagination; it also has a positive impact on mental well-being. This was a very energizing experience.

How can we find your book? Are there other platforms available, and what exactly does this platform offer?

We’ve developed a digital platform where Fearless Sia is also accessible. While physical books have their constraints, this digital space allows users to both read and write within the book. Initially, the platform featured only the book, but now it offers various writing experiences for users. I firmly believe that writing is one of the most potent tools of the 21st century, fostering critical thinking, collaboration, decision-making, and a creative mindset. It’s essentially a life skill that can create meaningful and impactful experiences. With this philosophy in mind, we introduced the digital platform, which not only includes the book but also offers a range of writing experiences on the fiction side. Additionally, users can find writing coaches on the platform, allowing them to build a writing portfolio and witness the evolution of their skills.

What key qualities and experiences do you hope readers take away from the character’s journey in the book?

From a takeaway perspective, the story unfolds as a pre-teen character, initially a jolly and happy-go-lucky girl immersed in the joys of friends and family, finds herself in a completely unfamiliar situation. The narrative explores how she navigates this unfamiliar terrain, not only gathering herself up and overcoming overwhelming fears but also maintaining composure without losing the inherent kindness and compassion in her nature.

Beyond the personal journey of self-discovery, the character goes on to extend her experience to others facing similar challenges, demonstrating kindness and offering assistance. The essence lies not just in overcoming fears and maintaining composure but also in helping others in comparable situations, reflecting the values of kindness, compassion, and resilience.

The key takeaways revolve around managing unfamiliar situations while holding onto core values, maintaining an inquisitive spirit, exploring possibilities, and standing up for what is deemed right. These elements collectively shape the character’s journey and are intended to resonate with readers, encouraging them to reflect on the importance of kindness, resilience, and staying true to one’s nature in the face of adversity.

Are there any distinctive and remarkable elements from the writing journey of this specific novel that you would like to share?

The genesis of the book traces back to a children’s assignment focused on designing a book cover, actively engaging them in the intricate process of crafting the narrative. Their inputs and creative ideas served as the cornerstone of this novel. Whenever writer’s block impeded progress, my children became my reliable resource, consistently offering insightful solutions. I was continually astounded by their keen attention to detail and innovative suggestions. Notably, my daughter once remarked that the plot and setting lacked the desired level of spookiness, suggesting a tone reminiscent of books like “Prisoner of Azkaban.” They were, in short, my active creative editors during the writing process of this novel. Their involvement not only enriched the storytelling experience but also underscored the collaborative and dynamic nature of this literary creation.

What are you working on next?

My second Write-Along book promises to be a nail-biting adventure with no limits. It’s about a sixteen-year-old, who goes on a Field Trip to Space, gets caught in a meteor shower that damages their spaceship and injures its crew, and beats all odds to find a way to bring the spaceship and its crew back to Earth safely.

The co-authors of this book will get to think out-of-the-space, solve unique challenges and make this story their own. I am looking forward to the responses from my readers and co-authors as they immerse themselves in this thrilling adventure.

What have been your learnings as an author?

I wrote my first short story in 2003, recognized at the St. Gallen Symposium in Switzerland. After not writing for almost 20 years, the desire to write lingered until I finally penned Fearless Sia.

Through the creation of this book, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the potent influence stories can wield, transcending age barriers and resonating universally. Immersing myself in the intricacies of writing has not only enriched my own personality but also provided me with a broader perspective on the impact narratives can have.

In essence, writing has transformed me into an improved version of myself.

The book is also available on leading digital platforms. Click here for Amazon link.