With the release of his debut work of non-fiction, a book titled ‘Revelations’ announced on July 21, Prince Rupert’s 19-year old Andy Chugh’s star is rising.
Chugh was just 17 when he started to write the book of biographical content from more than a dozen interviews with individuals who shared their insights for the publication of anecdotal material. The beginning of the finished product started as a final project when Chugh took part in the Rising Stars program hosted by Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce. Things didn’t go as planned and the book got shelved as just an idea.
“I never really had the intention of writing a book. I mean I was 17 at the time and hadn’t even graduated high school. That was the farthest thing from my mind,” he said. “But when COVID hit I just started writing for myself … I enjoy writing. I do it as more of a hobby, I guess. It kind of lets me take emotions and put them on paper.”
Andy told The Northern View that the book became something else on its own eventually.
“I didn’t really have a goal for what the book was. I started doing everything individually and pieced it together. The original intention was more a tablet collection of essays,” the young author said.
Each chapter of Revelations relays a biographical journey synthesized into a first-person account, he said. The human subjects he interviewed represent a wealth of life experiences to him. They include a peacekeeper, a senator, a self-made investor and an educator. Several are from the Prince Rupert area with others from cities throughout North America. Each chapter is anonymized, placing the emphasis on experiences themselves instead of identities.
“With most of the interviews, I just asked a simple question then sat back and listened. These are people who are adept at describing their journey. My job was to distill it into written form.”
“This book is the result of trust that many remarkable people put in me as I dedicated myself to sharing their stories,” he said. “I’m fascinated by people who reject apathy for a life of action and accomplishment. This book explores episodes of realization and transformation. I hope that by experiencing those lives vicariously, others are inspired and motivated.”
Motivated is what Chugh is. As a Charles Hays Secondary School graduate, he is now a second-year McGill University student studying a double major in political science and economics. Chugh is aiming his star to rise even further than being Prince Rupert’s latest author.
“I want to go into law school and then become a politician. I think one of the reasons I chose McGill is because Eastern Canada is a lot different than Western Canada. When you go there it’s like two different worlds,” Chugh said. “If you want to be a politician if you want to be in that kind of career you need to understand a lot of different people.”
While trying to navigate writing a book and studying university courses, Chugh said he has been inspired on by his participation in a ‘speak-a-thon’, a component of the debate club at high school. Participants would give prepared speeches back to back for a duration of 24 hours at the Lester Centre.
“There’s something really mesmerizing about just listening to people talk. Not everyone was a trained public speaker, but it was more about hearing so many different people expressing their opinions, whether you agree with them … it was just about listening to so many viewpoints.”
Chugh said he felt it was a wholesome experience to see so many different pieces of the world.
“It made me realize that no one comes from the same upbringing. Even if you’re in the same place, everyone has a different journey. That journey is what shapes us. So, every single person has a different understanding of the world.”
Andy said this thought process ties back into his book with the concept of morality being explored in a lot of the stories.
“It’s the whole idea of right and wrong and true and false, and what is the right way to really think about things,” he said.
“The central theme I want to convey in the book … is that the most important thing for humanity to succeed, in my opinion, is to spread ideas.”
“I think the most important skill a person can have is to be open-minded and to be able to think differently. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or how smart you are. That’s the single most fundamental thing that you need to be able to progress,” Chugh said.
The youth, with insight far greater than the boundaries of the Northcoast, said while he thinks open-mindedness is a necessity, it is also quite lacking in the world.
“There’s a lot of dogma, which is also something I explore in the book. By closing ourselves off to our own mindset, and never considering anything outside of what we believe, we shut ourselves off to the possibilities of what can be accomplished. And then we’re often overtaken by apathy and just stop caring about things.”
“I conclude the book with the idea that wrong things in the world don’t necessarily exist because people are bad … Humans, in general, are good. We’re just generally apathetic towards new ideas and apathetic towards progression,” the 19-year old said. “There are people that do wrong things but as I explore in the book, that’s not necessarily because they are bad people, that’s just the way they were shaped by the world.”
Chugh said he sees the problem as not the bad things that happen, but that people allow the bad things to happen because they are not actively good.
“The problem is not that evil exists, the problem is that we allow it to exist because we see injustice, and we don’t care about it because it doesn’t affect us.”
He believes that all of humanity has a duty to do its part. While people may be stuck in a close-minded and pessimistic view, he chooses to be optimistic referring to a chapter in the book where Pandora’s Box and the story of hope are mentioned.
“I will choose to be optimistic …you can’t be pessimistic in all the situations because sometimes you don’t really have a choice but to reach for the light at the end of the tunnel. That is because it may be the only choice you have. If the light’s too far away, and you feel like you can’t make it, you have no choice but to keep going because you can’t do anything else,” said Chugh, whose light is that continually rising star he keeps reaching for.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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