A published author at 11

SINCE he began primary school, Harvard J.H. Law (far right) has been writing down humorous stories on the loose pieces of paper that formed part of his sketchbook.

When his dad, Michael (right), chanced upon one of those loose pages, that started the then-10-year-old and his dad on a year-and-a-half-long journey of turning those funny stories into a book.

Growing Pains: Memoirs of a Witty Boy details Harvard’s quirky take on life, from everything that goes on with his siblings, to his french fry-stealing father. (In defence, Michael quipped: “I eat their fries. They eat too slow, the fries are there to share.”)

The now nearly 12-year-old schoolboy recalls: “One day, my dad came inside the room and he saw my papers … I didn’t think he would actually read it but [he did] and told me: ‘Eh, write a book, write a book’.”

A former business journalist and a published author himself, Michael thought his eldest son’s stories were humorous enough to be compiled into a book, and hopefully attract other children to pick up the reading habit.

The anecdotes in the book were written by Harvard and, although the boy likes to draw, the illustrations were done by Michael based on his son’s sketches.

When it comes to drawing, Harvard admits to being too much the perfectionist.

“When I draw, I get frustrated because I feel like I can do it better. I’ll erase it and erase it, and keep drawing until I feel frustrated and don’t feel like drawing any more.”

Growing Pains: Memoirs of a Witty Boy was published in November last year, and currently retails at RM29.90 in all major bookstores.

Since then, the Year Six pupil is already in the midst of writing a second book that continues his interactions with his 10-year-old sister Chelsea and eight-year-old brother William.

In the book, except for his own, Harvard has used pseudonyms for the other people involved. So instead of Chelsea and William, they are Sarah and Bill in the book, names suggested by the siblings themselves.

His siblings serve as his main source of inspiration as they are always brimming with different ideas, which come in handy for the second book.

He cites one idea from Chelsea who wanted him to write about her teddy bear “because she protects it like it’s gold, and she’ll do anything to get it back if it’s missing or something”.

You would think that Harvard is already set for a writing career, but the boy sees writing as more a hobby or a future part-time job. With his two favourite subjects in school being English and Science, his current ambition is to be an architect.

“So far, I’m looking at architecture, but I don’t know what will happen next time,” he said. “Sometimes when I see a building, I think I can make it look nicer. Then I imagine drawing it, drawing on the building.”

For now, he is enjoying the writing process.

While Jian Goh’s Once Upon a Miao and Cheeming Boey’s When I was a Kid are some of his favourite comicbooks, he also enjoys reading books like Tony Fernandes’ Flying High: My Story: From AirAsia to QPR.

Michael said: “I told him, sometimes you have to read books other than comics, so I introduced him to Tony Fernandes’ new book. Surprisingly, he finished the whole book.”

According to Harvard, the book fired his imagination of the business mogul in action at both work and in the football field.

“I can imagine how he was feeling, like, very excited,” said the boy who also has dreams of creating an empire one day.

“I like to think of what I am going to do tomorrow. Schedule everything, look back and think what I should be prepared for.”

He added: “If you like doing something, then do it more because one day, you’ll upgrade and that thing you do will become bigger, and then one day, you will become a big deal to everybody.”

It looks like this precocious young man is well on the way to achieving his dreams.