Fifth-grader Meher Munshi credits school with preparing her to become a published author.
“Obviously that’s where I learned how to write, and practice helps!” said Meher, whose book, “Cheese Chilli Toast,” is available online.
During remote learning, the Cascade Ridge Elementary student and her friends spent time together – virtually – and started writing books. One night, Meher was working on her writing late into the evening when her mom came in to check on her, thinking she was playing video games.
“I said, ‘Mom, I’m writing!’” the 11-year-old recalled. She shared some of her short stories with her parents, who were excited and contacted a publisher. Once the publisher accepted the submission, Meher said she had eight days to finish the collection of nonfiction tales about her own experiences. The tight timeline was because Meher and her family were headed to India on a trip, and the publisher wanted to launch the book while they were there, she said.
Meher altered the names of other people who appear in the book, and added details to some memories, but tried to stay as true as possible to how things happened in real life. Her mom and dad helped a bit, too, with subheadings and a few other pieces.
One of her favorite parts recalls the time that she went on a rollercoaster, because she didn’t have the typical reaction. “I absolutely hated it,” Meher says. “I don’t like heights.”
Writing, on the other hand? “I’ve always liked writing. Since third grade it has been one of my favorite subjects,” she said. “I feel like it’s kind of a way to speak your mind in a way you wouldn’t really in real life.”
In India, the family was at the home of Meher’s grandmother, when a package came to the door. She didn’t know what was inside at the time, but later that night the family went out to a restaurant and surprised Meher with freshly published copies of “Cheese Chilli Toast.”
Describing how she felt in that moment, she said: “It's your own writing and it’s in print! The feeling and sense of a book in your hand – and it’s your thing that you did – is just surprising! So happy and uplifting!”
Meher said she signed countless copies of her book for relatives, friends and others as part of the launch festivities – so many that her hand hurt.
Asked about the name of the book, Meher said she settled on “Cheese Chilli Toast” because it is unique. Don’t get your hopes up – there's no recipe for cheese chilli toast in the book – but Meyer says her book is a little gooey, spicy and crunchy, just like the title.
She hopes her book will open doors for other aspiring student writers, and says that she thinks many of her peers are incredible authors. As for what’s next, Meher is potentially interested in making the first book into a series and would love to be featured in the “Guiness Book of World Records” someday. Her favorite authors are Rick Riordan, Roshani Chokshi, Shannon Messenger and Kwame Mbalia. Meher said when she’s not writing or reading, she loves basketball, fencing and football.
Learn more: www.mehermunshi.com