Meet Mitali Perkins

 

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!

 

Mitali_Perkins_2007

 

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.

 

 

Mitali Perkins

 

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?

Bamboo PeopleMitali: Not firsthand. But we love and support close friends who do.

 

 

 

First_Daughter_Extreme_Makeover

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s More than Okay to Love your Mom

A couple of weeks ago, Lisa posted a blog in Scriblerians talking about moms in YA literature. I reacted quite strongly about the lack of good mom role models in modern YA novels.

 

Bamboo People

 

The very next week, I read a novel by Mitali Perkins titled Bamboo People. Not only did it have an excellent role model in the main character’s mom, two other moms stood out as women to be admired as well. AND two dads! I was so excited to find an author who wrote in a style I admired, that I emailed her and gushed my appreciation. I also asked for an interview for a future Scriblerian post. She graciously agreed. Stay tuned!

 

But back to Bamboo People. This is the kind of fiction that I love. Realistic. Gripping. Teens striving to be the best people they can be – so their parents will be proud of them!

 

By the title alone, you know the story does not take place in America. The setting is Burma. Or Myanmar if you are supportive of the communist regime that runs its government. (Another tidbit that I learned from this real, gripping, fictional story.)

 

Burma

 

 

Chiko is the son of a doctor. His father has been sent to prison on a trumped up crime. In Burma the reality is that an educated man should be feared, thus imprisoned. Chiko is forced into the army, and he must figure out how to survive without shaming his parents.

 

Tu Reh is a member of the Karenni tribe. Strongly independent, mostly Christian, his people flee from the army’s intended annihilation. When he stumbles upon a wounded Chiko, Tu Reh must decide: kill the enemy or offer a wounded boy refuge. Which decision would his Christian father find most honorable? Since his father is away on a mission, Tu Reh cannot ask for advice directly.

 

credit to deepspeakingup.wordpress.com

credit to deepspeakingup.wordpress.com

 

The mothers do not tell their sons what to do. Mitali Perkins writes in such a way that the reader knows the mothers have already instilled righteous values in their boys. They encourage, they praise, but each boy must make an adult decision on his own. This is the perfect meld of the protagonist solving his own problem AND his parents as influential mentors in his decision.

 

When I returned to  my local library, I searched the shelves for more Mitali Perkins books. They only had one: Extreme American Makeover. Totally different premise, far more lighthearted, but the parents were there, married, loving each other, teaching their daughter right from wrong. Mitali has several other books published. I’m looking forward to reading them all.

 

Realistic and gripping, with excellent parent role models. What other YA books are out there that you may know? Inform me!