Umme Kulsum is an 18-year-old student who started writing at the age of 15. Her short story As The Sun Set is our Editor’s Pick of the Week. Most children start by reading fairytales, but Umme started with the Nancy Drew notebooks. On Wattpad, her books have been read more than 450,000 times, and her stories on Tap app have over 4 million taps. We spoke to her about her writing and her experiences with the Juggernaut Writing Platform:
Could you inform the readers more about your work?
To be honest, I wrote this story when I was sixteen. After a tiring day of classes, it was my little escape into a world where physics wasn’t haunting my mind. At that time, I had this repetitive scene playing in my mind, in which the main characters die just as the sun is setting, so yes, this story transformed into words that night.
Please tell us something about your early years and major influences on you. What inspired you to work on this story?
Well, I had always been writing essays and short stories in school. Then, when I was fifteen, I started writing and posting my first book online. My major influence, of course, has always been reading. The more I read, the more eager I am to write.
As I said earlier, this story came to life because the ending had been nagging my mind for a while. And also because I wanted to raise certain questions in my readers’ mind, which I hope I have achieved.
Is your plot influenced by real-life stories?
I don’t know actually. Not a real life story as such, but yes, it surely is inspired from real life instances. Like, let us take the question of justice. In my story, some people believe that the characters deserved what happened in the end to them (sorry, no spoilers), while some believe that they deserved to have a happy ending. So, who’s right and who’s wrong?
This same question is applicable to so many things that we debate about, these days.
What books mean to you the most?
There are so many of them. I wouldn’t say that they have influenced my life, but they have been a huge part of it. To name a few, the Nancy Drew series, Babysitters Club series and the Fear Street series are my all time favourites.
What difference does writing make to your life?
Writing is a huge part of my life, now. If I don’t write, then my mind will always be a jumbled mess of different characters and their issues. Writing is therapeutic for me, and my mind will explode if I stop writing.
Did you face any challenges while writing this story?
Yes. Some of my readers like happy endings. They message me telling me how my stories are an escape for them. So I was really worried after I finished writing this story. That was the only challenge.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Ever since I started reading, at the age of about five, I would say. Each time I finished reading a Nancy Drew book, I would say that I wanted to be an author.
Is there a preferred time of the day when you get your writing done?
Not really. I don’t usually have the option of when I want to write. As a full time student, the only options I have are whether to write or study, and read or surf the net.
Does being a full-time student affect your inspiration to write?
At times, yes. I get writing ideas at the most weird times possible. But I’m not always free to write them down, so I lose interest in a lot of them.
How was your experience with the Juggernaut Writing Platform?
I personally loved it. This a unique platform that offers budding writers a chance to post their work and see how it’s received. I really like this initiative and would definitely recommend it to any new writer or poet I know.
Choose: Sherlock Holmes vs. Poirot
Fire vs. Water
Water. Hands down.
If you were stuck on an island, which book would you take with you?
A guide on how to survive on an island. Sorry, bad joke (actually, I was pretty serious).