When I last took a turn posting in Scriblerians, I featured Mitali Perkins as an author who uses wise parents as characters in her books. I hoped to bring you an interview for my next post. Mitali very graciously agreed to said interview, and I’m delighted to share what she has to say about writing stories that appeal to young readers. With a first glance at Mitali’s infectious smile, I was eager to learn more about her. I hope my enthusiasm is contagious, and you, too, will want to read her books.
Mitali is now an Honorary Scriblerian!
Nickname: “Zommie,” which is what our dogs call me.
Genre: Children’s/Young Adult Fiction.
Personal Philosophy: I love Jesus.
Favorite Scripture: Philippians 2: 1-4 is my vocational banner verse. “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Favorite Quote: “The challenge for those of us who care about our faith and about a hurting world is to tell stories which will carry the words of grace and hope in their bones and sinews and not wear them like fancy dress.” — Katherine Paterson
In high school I was… the Asian nerd, fresh off the boat.
Thank you, Mitali, for agreeing to take time out of a busy schedule for the Scriblerians.
In my last post here I expressed how I found it extremely refreshing to read your teen fiction because the main characters have GOOD parents! These are intact families with both Mom and Dad loving each other and watching out for their children. Chiko and Tu Reh and Sparrow all experience growth by making their own decisions and relying upon the good examples of their parents. This goes against the grain of many books in the same genre. Did you have any trouble convincing an agent or editor that a broken home or a foolish parent is not required for teens to be good hero material?
Mitali: Thanks so much. No, none at all. My editors have all been supportive of my characters’ loving parents.
Without getting preachy, you create characters who are Christians. Do you consider yourself a Christian author or an author who writes Christian fiction?
Mitali: I think of myself as a follower of Jesus who writes books for kids.
In the writing process for Bamboo People, what was the balance between researching Burma’s recent history and your own experiences in the country?
Mitali: I mostly relied on research because I had lived there a while ago. I also interviewed missionaries who are currently living and working there.
Have you worked with people on both sides of this conflict?
Mitali: Not firsthand. But we love and support close friends who do.
I loved the names that you gave to Sameera/Sparrow in First Daughter, Extreme American Makeover. I could see Sparrow gradually grow into the more grown up Sameera. How do you come up with names for your characters?
Mitali: They just come to me, and then they stick.
When I see your smile in photos, I can imagine that your family may have also called you Sparrow or something similar when you were a child. What percentage of Mitali Perkins makes up Sparrow’s character?
Mitali: Most of my main characters are like me. But I wasn’t a petite child; I was hefty! I was the fattest baby ever born in Shebashodon General Hospital in Kolkata, India. I made headlines!
Since I don’t want to go too long in a blog segment, I’m saving the rest of the interview for next time. Mitali will share a little of her own childhood, and we’ll talk about her experiences with the publishing process.
If you have already begun reading her books, let us know what you think of them. If you want to learn more about Mitali, you can find her at http://www.mitaliblog.com.