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MARTIN, Tenn. – Any parent would be proud for their teenager to develop a
love of reading. By this standard, G.K. and Sudarsha Sharma of Martin must
be extremely proud of their daughter, Manika, who recently had a book
published in India.

The book, To Kiss a Rose, was written by the 18-year-old UT Martin freshman
biology major when she was a 10th-grader at Westview High School in Martin.
An aunt who teachers school in India told a publisher about the book, and
some two years after its completion, Sharma’s book was published.

“I’ve always had a passion for reading books and for writing on all
subjects,” she said. “Once I have an idea, I have to write it down. This
book has really shown me, like everyone says, that hard work and following
my dreams will get me where I want to go.”

Her father, a longtime biology professor at the university, spotted his
daughter’s writing talent at an early age.

“Manika has been a good writer since she was a little girl,” Sharma
recalled. “She has written many poems and published a few in the U.S. We
have, therefore, encouraged her to continue her passion for writing
whenever she finds time from her studies.”

Manika says the book is about a young lawyer, the daughter of a computer
tycoon, who returns home to discover her stepfather murdered. With her
mother and former fiance in jail for the crime, the main character, Nicole
Doyle, must untangle the webs of deceit and search for the truth.

“It is definitely a drama,” she says of the story that is set in San
Francisco. “There are little surprises on every page.”

To Kiss a Rose could be just the beginning of Sharma’s career as a writer.
She has other manuscripts, and she wants to publish books in this country.
She also has her sights set on another career choice.

“Right now I have plans to go to medical school, so hopefully I can do that
and keep up my writing,” said Sharma. “I’d love to do both of them,
because they are both fields that I am interested in.”

Sharma said she mostly wrote in her spare time while in high school, but
now college classes leave her little time to pursue her story ideas.
However, with her priorities in order, and the continuing support of her
parents, Sharma’s dream of a second career as a writer is very much alive.

“I’ve always been taught that my studies come first and then in my spare
time I should pursue my writing,” she said. “That’s what I do. My parents
have been very encouraging, very supportive, and I owe most of this to