I was introduced to Rajdeep Paulus’s debut novel, Swimming Through Clouds at a special event in Indianapolis for Playlist Fiction. Now she’s launching the sequel Seeing Through Stones. Swimming Through Clouds was an excellent book and I liked Seeing Through Stones even better. In her first novel, we’re introduced to Talia Vanderbilt and in Seeing Through Stones, we get not only Talia’s POV but her younger brother, Jesse’s as well. Both characters have strong and distinct voices.
So in Scriblerian fashion, we added Rajdeep to our Author Hall of Fame.
Nickname: My friends, growing up, called me “Raj,” and I didn’t mind. My family calls me “Raju,” and my Hubs calls me …well lots of lovey-dovey stuff, so we’ll just leave it at that. 🙂
Genre: Young Adult Fiction (Masala-marinated, that is)
Personal Philosophy: Oooh… If I could sum it up in one word, it would be GRACE. I can’t live without it, and I’m happy to share it. And I fall in love when someone so graciously gives it to me.
Favorite scripture: Wow. How do I choose? I’ll go with the one at the bottom of my e-mail signature: “But me he caught–reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out of the ocean…in which I was drowning…He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved–surprised to be loved!” 2 Samuel 16-18 (The Message)
Favorite quote: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” Mother Teresa. <—- That’s my latest favorite. Funny thing is, I just returned from visiting my parents and was delighted to find my mom keeps a journal of her favorite quotes, and I loved hearing her read them to me! 🙂
In high school I was a… Jock-nerd… kinda like a mathlete-athlete named, Lagan. Yep.
Do you see yourself a Christian author or an author of Christian fiction?
Hmmm. Neither, really. I’m an author. My faith is very personal, but I think, inevitably, a writer’s worldview will sprinkle onto the pages of her stories here and there. My dream is to write great stories that will move people’s hearts to care about the hurting world around them and ponder the deeper questions of life. Because life is short. It’s important to take time to love others and ask yourself the hard questions, not settling for someone else’s answer.
Seeing Through Stones and your first book Swimming Through Clouds deal with both domestic violence and human trafficking. What inspired you to write about these issues?
I’ve been asked this question a lot. And it comes back to a longing to remind readers that there’s a hurting world out there, sometimes a person living right next door. And we live in such a hands-off society that I think we’ve lost the art of loving our neighbors where fear has sort of umbrella’d our perspectives. On a personal note, the reality of a child being sold into trafficking just to feed her family stuck in poverty wrecks me. I can’t fight every cause, but I hope to make a tiny dent in this one.
I loved Talia’s story in Swimming Through Clouds but I knew there had to be more. With Seeing Through Stones you gave us both Talia and her brother Jesse’s story. Will we get any more of their story or are you on to new projects? Can you give us some details?
I’ve also been asked this story, and my gut reaction is to say, this story is done. Or rather, I feel like I’ve taken the siblings the furthest I can without a ribbon-tied perfectly wrapped up ending. I want to leave some room for the readers’ imaginations to carry their futures where they want to, I suppose. But then again.. you never know.
In terms of new projects, I’m working on two: And readers can get sneak peeks at them over at Wattpad, where I’ve written several parts of Crush Me, and the first two chapters of The Color of Tomorrow were published when it won a writing contest at Winning Writers in 2012.
Is there anything about Talia or Jesse you can tell us that we don’t get on the pages of Seeing Through Stones?
I would, but then I’d have to kill ya, fictionally speaking. Kidding. Well, let’s see, there were definitely some deleted scenes in both books. In Swimming, several readers asked me why Lagan even approached Talia, and the answer was in a chapter that I cut, but to sum up that moment, Lagan loves to experience what he coined, Clean Slate Takes or CSTs. And a CST is basically an opportunity to meet someone when neither of you knows anything about each other, giving both people a fresh start and a judgement-free chance at a new friendship.
And Jesse, well, there was a whole book I wrote and deleted based on his almost two months in the hospital when he tried to take his life. That, my friend, is too much to sum up, but it might make an appearance someday in a freebie Ebook or something. Or not. Haven’t totally decided, but let’s just say, a lot can happen when the siblings leave their house and meet other people. 🙂
You spent Valentine’s Day participating in a flash mob for One Billion Rising to combat domestic violence. Could you tell us about your experience?
Wow! What a fun question! The whole thing came about so last second and I still wonder when I’ll get too old to be spontaneous like I still am these days. It was a Thursday night when I caught wind of the dance that would happen in a week’s time. I signed up, thinking, “Oh well, I missed the practices. At least I can venture over to NYC and support the dancers and cheer them on.” I’m sitting in church when I get the email that reads, “Thanks for signing up. We’ll see you at practice tonight.” I freaked out! It has always been a dream of mine to be in a flash mob dance, but that’s just one thing on my bucket list. Anyway, it worked out to attend and I warned the dance instructor, Melissa, “Put me in the back where I can cause the least amount of damage,” because although I love music (*Note that my books are published over at Playlist Fiction, where we love our tunes to books,) and I love to dance, I seriously have two left feet. But with a little instruction, we all looked pretty good doing it in sync and all.
The best part was my thirteen-year old daughter came with me, and the most touching moment of the day was right before our final rehearsal, we each went around the circle and shared who we were “Rising” for, and my daughter said, “I”m rising for all the women who are hurting out there and get hurt, because it’s not right, and it makes me, how should I say, sad.” It was so endearing to hear her express herself, and when we reached Times Square, the final dance of the day, Hannah jumped in and danced with us. We had close to 250 dancers in the final round when several dance schools brought out their students and jumped in to dance to “Break The Chains,” and the song lyrics are so moving, I get choked up each time I hear it.
And you’re also involved in Cycling For Change. Could you tell us more about that?
Sure. Well, my hubby is having a mid life crisis. But not your usual blow a bunch of cash on a sport car or run out and get a mohawk. Rather, a couple of days after he turns 40, he and a few guys will fly out to Seattle and bike their way across the country back to NYC to raise money and awareness for World Vision and Nomi Network, tackling the causes of child poverty and sex trafficking respectively. I’ll be driving the SAG vehicle (an RV) with my girls alongside them and the adventure will take one month if all goes well. C4C2015 is currently in training and what I love about the planning stages is how cool it is to see a community rise up to stand by the hubs. And of course I’ll be writing about it more as time goes on! Yep, we’re crazy like that. I guess we kind of make a good team in the sense that we’re both dreamers, and we both like to take risks. And if YOLO, may as well make it count for something! 🙂
Thank you Rajdeep for this interview and sharing a picture from “back in the day”. You can find Swimming Through Clouds and Seeing Through Stones at Amazon or through Playlist Fiction. You can learn more about her at her masala-marinated website. I hope you check out her fabulous fiction! She tackles tough topics in an uplifting way. And for those of us with a Christian worldview, Rajdeep’s faith shines through her books in brilliant Easter eggs.