Authors, storytellers and artists have a special place in this blog. It stems from our love for stories and immense respect for people who are still working hard to put art and stories out to the world. Until last year, we did a series called “Living Your Dreams”. The stories on “3 Curious Monkeys“, “Kitab World“,”MeghDoot” and now “Ten Gulab Jamuns” are the stories of people who are living their dream, quite literally. Much of this is happening in the Bay Area. In this post, we sat down with Sandhya Acharya to talk about her dreams of being an author, her first e-book and the kickstarter for the second one.
The journey of storytelling. Life prior to being an author, the love of writing and the journey of being an author.
I always dreamt of being a writer. As a child, my favorite thing to do was to read. I read a lot and slowly I began writing. As time went by, I discovered how much I liked it. People close to me will know that writing has always been very important for me. Meanwhile, I got an M.B.A from the University of Notre Dame. I worked in Corporate Finance for 10+ years in Sprint, at Google and then Grameen Foundation. Around the time I had kids, I had a reckoning that I still wanted to achieve so much more. I wanted to pursue my passion seriously and write so much more. I wanted to give it time. So I switched tracks and am now writing full time.
Why write children’s books and what kind of children’s books did you want to write when starting out ?
I am a mother of two young boys. I am constantly amusing my kids with stories – some from books and a lot from my imagination. I figured, why not write one myself! Earlier this year, I published my first kindle book on Amazon called Big Red Firetruck!. It was a fun storytelling project that I took on with a good friend and very talented illustrator Rashmi Menon. Along the way I also realized a few things
- 37% of children in the US identify themselves as multicultural, yet only about 10-15% of the children’s books have characters that look like them
- Just about 10% of children’s books are written by people of color
- About 3% of children’s books have characters from asia pacific
It is very crucial to close this gap in diversity in children’s books. Having multicultural content in children’s book is an excellent way of giving exposure to children at the right time in a fun way. It is not just the need of multicultural kids, but important for all kids from all backgrounds to perceive all shades of normal. We are not living in a closed circle – any of us. We need our books to help our children open up. Through the books that they read, they can share with and invite each other into their respective worlds. Children’s books gives households a chance to glimpse into a different culture. It gives an excellent starting point for a conversation of accepting differences. And to top it all, it is a whole lot of fun!
The first book and the response so far.
My first book Big Red Firetruck! was born out of a fun bedtime story session with my son a year back. A big red Firetruck has enamored many a child. Children love cars, trains, trucks anything that moves! In this humorous short story, young Idu (Ee-doo) teaches his younger brother Adu (Aa-doo) all about fire and fire trucks. Young Idu is reminded of fire looking at the hot sun. He asks his brother to bring him a Fire Truck. Adu doesn’t know what a Fire Truck looks like. He follows instructions but needs some help. Idu takes on the role of the teacher. He is patient and loving and they both have fun in the process.
It is a fun bedtime or anytime story for children for all ages – baby through preschool or kindergarten. It is also a great opportunity for caregivers to talk about fire safety. The story also has a lesson about patience and caring for siblings.
Nothing is more exciting for an author as appreciation from the reader be it a comment, a review, a tweet, a share. It is perhaps the positive feedback from this book that encouraged me to take on my next project.
Describe the kickstarter and the second book.
My upcoming book is called “Ten Gulab Jamuns“. I am really excited about this book. It has a story close to my heart in it. The characters Idu (Ee-doo) and Adu (Aa-doo) make a comeback here. This time Idu and Adu hope to regale their readers with their adventure with Gulab Jamuns – an indian sweet delicacy.
As a child, I was a big fan of Gulab Jamuns. Using Gulab Jamuns as the subject and the characters who are inspired by my own sons, I hope to give readers a glimpse into south asian culture.By seeing characters that look like them, eat things like them, do things like them, I hope to give multicultural children a sense of belonging and all children a gentle curiosity to ask questions and learn about their multicultural friends.
The story has two main characters. Idu (Ee-doo) and Adu (Aa-doo) – two brothers inspired by my own sons. The older brother Idu, is playful and protective and the younger one, Adu, is a boisterous brat.
Idu and Adu are very excited. They have friends coming home later today. Mamma has prepared a lot of dishes. She is going to make Gulab Jamuns next. Idu wants to know what Gulab Jamuns are. Mamma explains that are yummy gooey golden balls that look like tiny donuts soaked in sugar syrup. It sounds irrestible, but Mamma has asked them to wait till the guests arrive. But can they? Do the guests finally get the Gulab Jamuns?
This is a lighthearted, fun story that children and parents will love. The story also includes basic lessons on counting as well as important values of responsibility, team-work and family.
My Kickstarter is from Oct 20th- Nov 22nd. October 20th was also the National Day of writing and it only seemed apt to start my campaign on that day! The Kickstarter link and details are HERE. YOU can promote diversity and enhance the landscape of the children’s book market! Please support the campaign #tengulabjamuns
What are some of your favorite children’s books (always interesting to know what the author loves to read)
- Love you forever by Robert Munsh – I choke every-time I read it. So precious. It makes me hold my kids a little tighter and treasure every moment with them.
- Dr Suess series- Timeless. Classic. Smart rhymes and rib-tickling funny.
- The Day the Crayons came Home by Drew Dewalt – Such a funny account. In the story, some battered and bruised crayons are struggling to come home. They have been abandoned and neglected by a child who we never see, but so identify our child with.
- Amma tell me series – A wonderful series that inform and educate children of the different aspects of Indian culture in a nice story format.
Storytelling events this festive season.
- Nov 5th at the Festival of South Asian Children’s Content
- Nov 19th Storytime with Gulab Jamuns. Partnering with acclaimed recipe writer and Food Tech consultant @milkandcardamom Hetal Vasavadava in San Francisco. See details here
Please come and join.
Written by : Sandhya Acharya in conversation with Piya Mukherjee Kalra
Pictures provided by : Sandhya Acharya
Kickstarter Link – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1973575678/ten-gulab-jamuns-a-multicultural-childrens-book/community