Q&A with Saba Kapur, Author of YA Novel: Lucky Me
With Lucky Me releasing in just over a month, we decided to sit down with Saba Kapur and pick her genius brain.
Saba Kapur is a 19 year-old writer based out of Melbourne, Australia. Her passion for storytelling developed at a young age, born from a deep-seated love of books. Lucky Me is her first novel and an ode to her favourite things: fashion, romance, and mystery.
Born in India, Saba spent her childhood in Indonesia and Kiev, Ukraine. She is currently in her final year of college, studying International Relations and Criminology at Monash University. She hopes to one day become a fabulous lawyer in New York City, with a closet full of stilettos.
In her spare time Saba enjoys reading, watching anything to do with Ryan Gosling, and pretending she’s Beyoncé. She currently lives with her parents, her older sister, and a large supply of chocolate.
AJ: When did you begin writing? What kind of writing did you do originally?
SK: I began writing in middle school, when I didn’t have my beloved Macbook and the whole family shared two GB of Internet data between four people (the good old days). I used to write in journals a lot, but when I was starting to lose interest in writing down my feelings, I turned to imagining short stories, usually mysteries or suspense. My sister was always the writer in the family, so I never imagined I’d be the one to write a novel.
AJ: Where did you get the idea for Lucky Me?
SK: I would love to have an amazing answer to this question, but truthfully, the idea came to me in the shower. Lucky Me was born less from an idea and more from a sudden, overwhelming urge to write two chapters on a whim. I had little to none of the plot actually worked out in my mind, but the characters of Gia and Jack had completely taken form. Romance and mystery are my among two of my favorite genres, so it wasn’t difficult to decide on what kind of book it would be. I wanted to write about something that was appealing to my generation’s interests, thus stardom and fame seemed to be the best topic to choose.
AJ: With everything you had going on during high school, how did you find time to write?
SK: I think writing really saved me from the drama of high school. I was privileged enough to attend an amazing high school, and there was a lot to love about the place and the people. But it’s a universally known fact that high school kids can majorly suck, and many of my experiences were no different. It was definitely hard to find the balance between writing and schoolwork, particularly because I did most of the final editing in my senior year. Which, as we all know, is already a very stressful time without the added teenage angst. But for me, writing is very therapeutic, and I find I do my best writing late at night in the comfort of my quiet, little bedroom.
AJ: What kind of books do you like to read? What is your favorite book?
SK: If a book has romance, mystery and humour in it, chances are I’ve read it. I just love any book that manages to juggle the three, because I feel like they make up so much of my personality. That being said, I don’t mind reading any genre if the book is captivating! I, too, went through the “I love Twilight” phase in eighth grade (I was controversially on team Edward) and Harry Potter was basically the reason I fell in love with books. My favorite novel, however, would have to be The Godfather, by Mario Puzo. It is the definition of a masterpiece, and Michael Corleone is possibly my favorite fictional character of all time.
AJ: Is Gia based on someone you knew in real life? How did you come up with her character?
SK: Gia came from many different inspirations. I spent a lot of time observing the kinds of young celebrities that my generation idolized (e.g. Kendall Jenner), and tried to incorporate similar traits into her personality and lifestyle. Gia was also inspired by many of my favorite fictional characters, particularly Cher Horowitz (from the movie Clueless) and Blair Waldorf (from the TV show Gossip Girl). There are a few of my own personality traits in Gia, mostly through her sarcasm (plus, my parents think I’m a serial complainer, which is a total lie). But I’m not at all impulsive or emotional, so I’m definitely better at making life decisions than her.
AJ: Did you ever think Lucky Me would be published?
SK: This is going to sound very clichéd, but not at all. It was something I, of course, hoped and prayed would happen. But I think for a long time it was sort of this distant, ‘wouldn’t that be amazing,’ kind of dream. I spent a decent amount of time dancing around in fuzzy socks when it was all finalized, but it still feels so surreal even now. I am “hashtag blessed,” as the celebrities would say.
AJ: Let’s get right down to the nitty-gritty: Milo or Jack?
SK: Are you trying to kill my career before it starts? I can’t commit that cardinal sin! The best part about inventing two amazing and insanely attractive guys is that you don’t have to choose between them! Nope. I plead the fifth.
AJ: What was your favorite scene to write? And your least favorite?
SK: There were so many scenes I loved to write, it’s hard to choose just one! The restaurant scene, where Jack and Gia go to the Dumpling Hospital, is among my favourites. It was so funny to picture it occurring in real life, and I had a lot of fun writing it. The UCLA party scene was also really fun because it’s the first time you get to see Milo and Gia’s romance slowly building. My least favorite scene to write was the first chapter. It is so incredibly hard to start a novel and make it engaging from the very beginning. I must have rewritten that first chapter a hundred times.
AJ: What obstacles did you face when writing this book?
SK: One thing that authors don’t talk about too often is the crippling self-doubt you feel when writing a novel. I would get through a chapter and declare it to be the best thing I’ve ever written, and read it the next morning and want to set my whole laptop on fire. I had also started writing the book at about fifteen years old, so my writing style really matured overtime. It made editing the book a real chore! It was, of course, also a challenge to try and make the characters and plot interesting and endearing. You can never be too sure if your jokes really are that funny (but mine are, trust me).
AJ: How difficult was it writing about Los Angeles when you actually live in Melbourne, Australia?
SK: It was definitely tough to write about LA, especially because it’s a place I’ve never seen in person. I wanted to make it as accurate as I possibly could, so Google Maps was my best friend for a lot of that process. But the great thing about Hollywood is that it has kind of superseded just one location. I didn’t find it too challenging to write about the Hollywood lifestyle, because it’s something that is projected across boundaries. You don’t just have to be living in LA to experience the influences of Hollywood.
AJ: What was the publishing process like?
SK: I was very lucky to have publishers that were so interactive and collaborative with me throughout the publishing process. I had heard so many stories about authors losing power over their novels in the grand scheme of things, but my experience was the complete opposite. I have learned, however, that publishing is a slow process. The manuscript needs to be edited several times and there are so many steps that go into marketing, so it really requires a lot of patience and trust in your publishers. But seeing your work in its final form is so worth the wait!
AJ: Tell us, are you already working on the sequel?
SK: I am indeed! It feels great to get back into writing some new material and continue where the story left off.
AJ: What’s in store for Gia in book two?
SK: Gia is going to have a very different life in book two. She’s completely out of her comfort zone, moving to New York and leaving her dad, friends and Hollywood lifestyle behind. Given the events of the first book, the media is also going to view her in a very different way, so she’s going to have to find a way to balance starting college, being a celebrity and making new friends. You’ll get to see her growing up a little, now that she’s left high school. But of course, there’ll still be plenty of mystery, sarcasm and stilettos!
AJ: What is the best writing advice you can give to young writers like yourself?
SK: Now, I do not at all claim to be an expert in this field. But my advice is to block all the noises out, and focus on what you really want. You know that little voice in your head telling you it’s not even worth the trouble? Ignore it. If you want something bad enough, then work hard for it, and understand that it won’t come easy. If it’s something you’re truly passionate about, then it’s always worth the trouble. Also, it doesn’t hurt to keep mentioning George Clooney in your writing, on the off chance you become super famous and he wants to meet you. Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll make it happen.
Lucky Me can be pre-ordered on AMAZON.