Apeksha Rao talks to The Daily Guardian about her book, Along Came a Spyder, and rediscovering her passion for writing.

Along came a spyder
Along came a spyder

Samira Joshi is a 17-year-old girl with one dream in life: To become a spy one day. Spying runs in the Joshi genes. Her great-grandmother used to get a kick from sticking her nose in everyone’s business while her grandmother was into tracking down errant husbands and missing servants. Samira’s parents are spies for RAW and trained her in spycraft since she was a little girl. But they want her to become a doctor. 

When Samira sees a college friend being trapped by a pimp, she does some spying and comes across a secret sisterhood of teen spies called the Spyders and she wants in. But you have to read Along Came a Spyder (published by TreeShade Books) by Apeksha Rao to find out whether Samira is able to join the Spyders or not.

Interestingly, as a teenager, Apeksha used to fantasise about being a spy. She recalls, “I liked to believe that I was this hotshot covert operative and that someday my handler would turn up and recruit me for a top-secret mission. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. When I started writing, this idea kept coming back to me and it made me wonder what if a teenager could really become a spy. I did a lot of research for this book, read a lot of spy stories, fiction as well as non-fiction and for months, instead of music, I only listened to podcasts from the field of espionage.”

The best part about writing Along Came a Spyder is that she got to indulge her inner teenager, no-holds-barred and could be snarky while doing that. Talking about finding the right voice for her novel, she says, “The most important thing was to get the young adult voice right. Teenagers’ way of thinking and conversing is unique to them and their lingo changes from generation to generation. So that was something I was very careful about. Also, I researched on spycraft, technology and gear that are currently used in the field of espionage.”

Asked about whether wit and humour come naturally to her, the author answers, “the theme in itself was thrilling. I have a very sarcastic and snarky way of looking at things which I let loose.” This reflects in her debut work and adds to its appeal. 

Choosing to be an author and quitting the day job was not easy for Apeksha but after a point, it got overwhelming juggling a job and writing along with mom duties. “The past few years have been very hectic, and I’ve had to reorganise my priorities. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, and my to-do list shows no signs of shrinking. So, I made the tough choice of giving up my day job to focus on writing.”

She reminisces about how stories and books were a big part of her childhood, “I’ve always been a voracious reader. My earliest memories are all about my mother reading to me. Books have always been my safe place and my solace. I wrote my first story at the age of seven. After growing up, life got in the way, and I stopped writing. But I never stopped making up stories.”

Apeksha is currently working on a historical thriller set in the nineteenth century and is planning to write three more books in the series.