How Writing Saved A Young Man’s Life
It may sound cliché, but 2018 may well have been the year Sarjeen Thiagendran wrote for his life. A cancer survivor, Sarjeen’s story is one of courage, sacrifice and sheer determination. He has literally been to the edge and back, and yet, here he is today –at 21 years of age and a book author of his first book, Sacred Creed: Cold as Ice. A captivating book with wonderfully written characters and inventive narrative, we speak to this young man on how he endured Chemotherapy and was able to craft a story so endearingly real with recognisable human characters and emotion.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Sarjeen Thiagendran. I was born on the 28th of March 1998. Other than writing, I enjoy singing and acting. My first experience acting was in a play done by Sugam Karnatika. The play was a re-enactment of the epic Mahabharata and I played the character of Bheema, the second oldest son of king Pandu of the Pandavas.
Where were you born and how was your childhood like?
I was born in Kuala Lumpur. My childhood was not the most memorable but it definitely shaped the person I am today. It was not uncommon for me to get bullied as a child and there are times things would get out of hand. I remember when my classmates would blame me for things I never did or bully my friends as a way of getting to me. It was really hard for me to make friends and I would often imagine myself as being someone special just to fill the void which would become the source of my creativity.
Describe the kind of books you read when you were young and your favourite authors.
The first story I remember reading was about Hindu mythology like Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Later on, I used to read up on supernatural and other fantasy series. The ones I enjoyed reading the most was The Darren Shan Saga, a story of a young boy who became a vampire, and The Skulduggery Pleasant series, a detective story revolving around a living skeleton and human girl in a world full of magic and wonder hidden from humans.
One of my favourite authors is Zhariff Afandi. His book “SOS: Surfing out Stuff – A Book of Growth & Guidance” got me through a really hard time in my life and I recommend others to read it as well. His achievements and struggles are ones I can only imagine and an inspiration for me to continue to improve myself.
Was there a particular person who encouraged you to write when you were younger? If there was, how did he or she encourage or help you?
My old neighbourhood friends were my biggest supporters. They would cheer me on and review my early works as I wrote them.
How long have you been writing?
Back in 2015, I began writing around the same time I completed the SPM examination. I continued to write while I was diagnosed and undergoing treatment for cancer and have written two more books. However, I didn’t have the feel as I wrote and decided that I would retype everything again till I felt that it was right. I’m writing my second book now titled Sacred Creed: Start a Fire. The story revolves around a Kitsune who returns back to his homeland after killing the elven queen from the Kingdom of Wayhathur. He then joins to fight with the rest of the Kitsunes to free the Kingdom of Sturrdakkan from the elven army of the kingdom of Ganzalang.
Tell us about the inspiration behind Sacred Creed and your experience writing this book.
The story of Sacred Creed started out as a simple drawing. I would often draw stick figures of people fighting based on the stories I read and the shows I would often watch, preferably shounen anime. As a child, I was really inspired by one anime in particular and that anime was Naruto. We both share many similarities – two people who were picked on by the society around us and dream of one day being accepted and loved by everyone. It took me one year to write Sacred Creed: Cold as Ice. I would write it every day, before and after classes throughout my foundation program. When it came to writing my book, I did it all on my own. I was able to come up with ideas for my book as I had an active imagination since my early childhood of playing pretend with a toy sword.
How did you visualize Sacred Creed in its entirety?
I first begin to visualize my story after drawing my first male protagonist Jack, his secret admirer, Rin and his demon-hunting teacher, Master Leoric. The visualisation and other characters and events all came naturally to me as I wrote. However, my second book and other future books were all planned out and may need to be pieced together when I write it down.
Are characters in your books based on real people or even animals?
The main character of the book was based on my own life experience, the things I wanted to do but didn’t and my hopes and dreams. The other characters, however, were based on the characteristics of my own friends and family. Even certain places and events in the story are based on my own favourite joints. For example, the high school mention in the book was based on my own secondary school of the same name. I have actually created a character by the name of Ruslo in my second book and it was based on both my pet dogs, Rusty and Mylo. Ruslo is very playful and protective like my Doberman, Rusty and stubborn and fierce at times like my Shih Tzu, Mylo.
Do you have a favourite character in the book?
My favourite character is Danereb, named and based after my closest friend Dan, who is very supportive and protective of his friends. Growing up, I had a lot of respect for him as he was very skilful when it comes to playing video and mobile games.
Are you excited about the prospect of many people reading your books?
In all honesty, I feel both proud and nervous. It fills me with joy to see something I have worked hard to become a reality. My deepest wish is that everyone who buys my book has fun reading it as much as I had writing the said book.
What are your thoughts on the Sacred Creed series being made into a computer game?
It would be fantastic if my book was adapted into a computer game. I wish it would be an RPG game, where players are allowed to customize their characters, craft items and weapons and more importantly, make choices that will lead them on their path to becoming a hero or villain.
Any advice for aspiring young writers out there?
My advice would be to write what you want and what you believe in. It is also important to heed advice yet not falter from your original path. Developing a story is easy, you just have to feel it as you write and if you ever get lost, plan your story. There is no wrong or right way to write a story. A story is only bad if you yourself are lazy and not passionate to write.
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