Yaseen Heikal has just published his first book titled From Earth to Mars. Not only is this a feat in and of itself, but to add to the glory, the author is also a fifth-grader who, at the age of ten, is among the youngest authors in the world. We are proud of this young boy and cannot wait to support this lofty achievement. By saluting the creative manifestations of our youth, we welcome a new paradigm where young minds are also celebrated as trailblazers. We interviewed Yaseen and were granted a glimpse into his process as a young writer and first-time author.
What was the reaction of your publisher to your age when you submitted From Earth to Mars?
Actually, my mom is the one who contacted them and she told me that when they knew that the story is written by a 10-year-old, they were fascinated and impressed that such a young boy wanted to do something big like that, especially from this region. They were pleased to get contacted by people in Kuwait!
The story revolves around the adventures of a young space traveller, Koy, set in 2050. Did you research about spaceships and aeronautics or was the story a figment of your imagination?
The story is purely from my imagination, but I love space and astronomy. I’ve read so much about the galaxy and the planets and I keep up to date with news related to this area in science. For example, a new planet is being discovered that could have life on it. I’ve also learned a lot about planets at school. Science is actually a lesson that I most I enjoy!
How did the process of writing begin for you? Were you inspired by other young minds, an adult figure, or did the story evolve on its own?
Well, the story evolved on its own, but I always wanted to write stories the way Roald Dahl did. I was moved by his imagination and his stories are fun to read. I’ve been writing short stories for a while, mostly from my bed! I would illustrate them and bind them as well. “From Earth to Mars” is one of them. I showed my story to my parents just like I showed them all the other ones. But I told my parents I wished to publish this one!
Adults have trouble, sometimes, getting children to read, but From Earth to Mars is also a coloring book – which will surely pique the interest of restless readers. Was this intentional?
When Mom and I first thought of the book, we didn’t intend it to be a coloring book as well. But as we decided to have the illustrations more ‘cartoonish”, we thought, why not keep them black and white so that the children can color them? For this reason, we had to choose a certain type of paper – which is purely white – to print the book. The activity at the end of the book is actually Dad’s idea!
Finally, they say “age ain’t nothin’ but a number”, and you are a testament to that. Are you planning on galvanizing your peers to achieve their dreams as well?
Yes, of course! I would love to inspire little kids! That’s one of the main reasons why my family and I wanted to make my dream come true by publishing my story. People, both parents and kids, should see from this book that a family should support and help their children try to fulfil their dreams… Why not? The sky is the limit!
From Earth to Mars is now available on Amazon and Author House websites. For more information, follow the book’s page on Instagram @_from.earth.to.mars_. You can follow Nejoud on social media @coexistkuwait or visit her website www.nejoudalyagout.com.
Images courtesy of the author