When Bikul Koirala was in ninth grade, he and his younger brother and older cousin decided they’d publish a children’s magazine and distribute it throughout their community and in local schools. It’s an ambitious undertaking on its own, but then the boys figured a first issue run of 1,000 print copies would be the perfect start!
“A bunch of kids go in and say we’re going to print 1,000 copies of this…we didn’t know,” Bikul recalls with a laugh. “We went into a bunch of businesses asking for advertisements just not knowing how it all works. We were so naïve.”
Though the magazine only lasted that one issue, Bikul remembers the entire experience as a fun project.
“We didn’t have any idea that we couldn’t do it – sort of like writing my first book. I was naïve about that too; I just thought, ‘I can do it. What’s the worst that can happen?’”
Like many other emerging authors or first-time novelists, Bikul had a story in his mind that he wanted to tell and was determined to figure out how to share it.
Up to this point, his only other writing experience – outside of academics – were various articles in local newspapers and two short nonfiction books: “The Science of Colors in Life” and “Learn Nepali.” (Both available through Amazon.) Writing a novel would be an entirely new pursuit for him.
Bikul was born and raised in Nepal and moved to the United States in 2003 for undergraduate studies in chemistry and biochemistry, eventually landing in Fort Collins in 2011 to pursue an MBA at Colorado State University.
While his education and career took him down a science and technology path, he remembers always having “bits and pieces” of a story in his mind.
“I always wanted to write, but I was scared because I felt like I’m not a writer. That’s what I was telling myself,” Bikul explains. “So I guess I needed permission to write from myself first of all.”
Following a 2016 visit with friends back to Nepal, Bikul returned to the U.S. ready to begin writing his novel, “Dreams from Nepal.”
“I was seeing [Nepal] from my friends’ eyes and thinking back to a lot of things I saw or experienced growing up,” he says. “There are bits of my own childhood, part of my life and part of what I saw growing up that I wanted to put into the story someday, but I never really thought about how it would come through [as a novel].”
While Bikul now felt the energy and motivation to write the story he’d envisioned in bits and pieces, the actual process of sitting down to craft the story was a new challenge. It was a slow start he remembers.
“That was scary. I knew, but until I started writing, didn’t realize just how hard it would be to take the stories in my head and try to get them onto paper and then make it translate well,” Bikul says. “I still feel I didn’t do enough justice to the story I had in my head. Being my first novel, I was still struggling with ‘that’s not quite what I want,’ but it’s a start.”
Bikul’s novel follows the main character Ram, a young boy born and raised in a small village in Nepal, as he dreams of a life away from farming and away from the village. The story moves with Ram through adulthood as he begins to wonder if his new path – away from the village and family – is the right path for him. It’s an “emotional, powerful story of a twelve-year-old Nepali boy’s journey through faith, love, and unbreakable determination to live a better life.”
The process of writing, revising, and editing “Dreams from Nepal” took a year, which Bikul describes as liberating, “As I started writing more, it was very liberating and I could get lost in the writing and relax. It was almost meditative.
As I was writing, I was still progressing and seeing part of my childhood, or what I saw growing up, coming together through the characters. It’s not autobiographical, but some of the stories I was part of growing up are part of this story.”
When it came time to publish his novel, Bikul describes the moment as scarier than writing the book, “You’re putting yourself out there for every kind of criticism, everything. I figured, I’ve done it, let’s put it out there. What’s the worst that can happen? If people like it, they like it; if they hate it, they hate it. I’ll get some feedback, and that’s a good way to improve.”
Bikul opted to go with Createspace, an online self-publishing distribution service from Amazon, and then with the Library District’s self-publishing platform, SELF-e, to get his novel into readers’ hands and part of the Library’s digital collection through Biblioboard.
Bikul is still wrapping his head around having his work in the Library’s collection and available for purchase online through Amazon.
“It goes back to the feeling that I’m not an author,” he explains. “I’m trying to be comfortable with that.”
“Dreams of Nepal” is available as an eBook at Poudre River Public Library District and can be accessed through the online catalog and directly on Biblioboard in the Fort Collins & Northern Colorado Authors curation.
Information about the various writing and self-publishing tools available to local writers can be found on the Library’s Writers’ Café webpage.