It’s time to Kick Back with Kick-butt!
Today we’re chatting with Sheela Chari, the author of
Karthik Raghavan is good at remembering things. Like his bike routes. Or all the reasons he likes Juhi Shah—even if she doesn’t even know he exists. It doesn’t help that she seems to have a crush on his arch nemesis, Jacob Donnell, whose only job is to humiliate Karthik (and get his name wrong).
Then Karthik’s luck changes when he secretly agrees to be in a play about the famous musician, Leonard Bernstein. But he can’t tell his parents. The family store is in jeopardy, and they need him delivering groceries on his bike to help save it. His mom is also worried about the Financial Crisis, and she’s convinced that studying hard and staying focused is the only way to succeed.
But Karthik is having fun being Lenny. Besides, what if acting is Karthik’s special talent? And what if acting is the one way to catch Juhi Shah’s attention? With all the pressure from his family to succeed, will Karthik be able to really imagine and hope when he’s not sure what will happen next?
Let’s talk to this fabulous author about her awesome book!
This is Sheela. Everyone say, “Hi, Sheela!”
Welcome to Kick-Butt Kidlit, Sheela! Tell us about yourself!
Hi Casey! Thank you for having me on your blog. I’m a children’s author and teacher, and my most recent book, Karthik Delivers, is a humorous middle grade novel about a boy who thinks he might want to be an actor some day.
What was the inspiration behind KARTHIK DELIVERS?
Karthik works as a delivery boy in his dad’s Indian grocery store when he gets the chance to act as a lead in a play about the young Leonard Berstein. One of the reasons Karthik is asked is because of his amazing ability to remember things, especially in list form in his head. I’m someone who keeps lists, too, except I write them down because I’m so bad at remembering! I wanted to write about someone who has an incredible memory but doesn’t know how he will make use of this unusual talent.
What were three interesting things you discovered while working on KARTHIK DELIVERS?
1. I loved writing humor! I didn’t think I would be good at it, but seeing the world through Karthik’s eyes was so much fun.
2. I loved learning about Leonard Bernstein’s life — he is best known for writing the music to West Side Story. I grew up playing classical violin and music from West Side Story, and knew I wanted to use Bernstein as a source of inspiration for Karthik, who is also considering a creative path.
3. Success and failure, beginnings and endings, happiness and disappointment — these all go hand in hand. And that’s okay.
Humor is the best! So glad you had fun with it!
Aside from your novels, you also contributed a story to the SUPER PUZZLETASTIC MYSTERIES anthology. How was the process of writing a short story different from writing one of your novels?
I really love short stories — I enjoy the compressed storytelling, and the ability to focus on a single moment of change in a character’s life. In a mystery story, it’s especially interesting to think about suspense, suspicious characters, and planting clues in a short space. The challenge is getting it all in there and still allowing your detectives to solve a mystery in a satisfying way.
Wow! That definitely sounds like it would be a challenge! But a fun one!
Why were you drawn to writing middle grade?
Middle grade and middle school are a special and transformative time in a young people’s lives, when they are just starting to feel a sense of independence and agency. I love the humor and sensitivity of this age group.
What has been the most surprising part of your publishing journey?
Every book is completely different. Some books have come to me very quickly. Others have taken years to complete. Starting is always hard.
But finishing a project is always the best feeling in the world.
What are you reading right now?
I recently finished Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome.
What’s your favourite piece of kick-butt advice?
Don’t let a single project define you. You will have highs and lows, but the most important part you can do as a writer is to keep writing.
Thank you so much for joining us, Sheela!
Kick-butt Kidlit friends, make sure you check out KARTHIK DELIVERS!
It’s on shelves now!
Click here to enter to win a copy of KARTHIK DELIVERS!
Contest closes Friday, June 24th at 11:59 pm EST
Thanks for reading!