A big Kick-butt Kidlit welcome to author, Mahtab Narsimhan!
Mahtab is the award-winning (Silver Birch Fiction Award, 2009) author of The Third Eye, a fantasy-adventure based in India and the first book in the Tara Trilogy.
The Tiffin, based on the dabbawallas of Mumbai, received critical acclaim and was shortlisted, among others, for the SYRCA, MYRCA and Red Maple Fiction Awards.
Mission Mumbai and Looking for Lord Ganesh were published in Spring 2016 by Scholastic Inc. and Lantana Publishing, respectively.
Her latest novel, Embrace The Chicken, was published by Orca Book Publishers in January 2019.
Mahtab lives in Vancouver and is deeply committed to representing diversity in her stories.
Tell us a bit about your latest/upcoming project?
I’m working on a chapter book with Orca for their Echoes series which will be published in Fall 2020.
I’m also editing a picture book with Owlkids which is slated for Spring 2020.
My current work in progress is a middle-grade novel which has a bit of magical realism and horror.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished reading Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Fantastic
Currently reading Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.
And since I always have a couple of picture book manuscripts on the go, I’m reading a lot of them right now. A couple of my favourites (full disclosure here because they’re my peeps!) are Sun Dog by Deborah Kerbel and Counting on Katherine by Helaine Becker.
Who is a Canadian author or illustrator that you’d like to see more people discover?
I recently discovered Linda Bailey’s books and I love them! One of my favourites is a middle-grade novel : The Tiny Hero of Ferny Creek Library which is about a brave little bug who saves his Aunt Min. Great homages to Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little among others.
Linda Bailey’s most recent picture book : Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein is exquisite. A must read!
What’s been the most surprising part of your publishing journey so far?
Winning the Silver Birch Fiction award for my debut novel, The Third Eye. I was so green when I wrote it and assumed that it would have a very limited market. To my surprise it was shortlisted for the Forest of Reading Awards and it won! I will never forget the feeling of being at a loss for words when I normally have quite a few, with some to spare 😊
When a reader picks up your books, they can always expect to find…
A hopeful, but not necessarily happy, ending. I believe that kids can handle the truth, and life should never be sugar-coated. When kids experience hard choices or traumatic situations through fiction, they learn how to deal with them in real life even as they realize, subconsciously, that they are reading a story in a safe environment.
As long as the language and content are age-appropriate, I believe you can tackle any topic in a children’s book.
What’s the most Canadian thing you’ve put in a book?
In my latest novel, Embrace The Chicken, the main character, Shivani has recently immigrated to Canada. I’ve included some food items (because I am a self-proclaimed foodie and there will always be vivid descriptions of food in any book I write!) that are North American if not specifically Canadian such as burgers, fries and chocolate milkshake.
Most of my novels are based in India so I haven’t had much of a chance to include a “Canadian” component. But there are lots more novels coming and I’m sure I’ll get a chance to include poutine.
What would you like to see more of in the world of Canadian children’s literature?
Diversity in every genre and at every level of reading ; be it picture books, chapter books, middle-grade or YA fiction.
Because it’s never too early to educate and expand young minds. To make them aware and empathetic towards differences among people, and to embrace those differences.
If you could spend a day inside of any book, which one would you choose?
I am a fan of the fantasy genre and there are two:
- The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – Tops my list of favourites.
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – Love this richly imagined world and our first taste of it.
Lastly, we always end with: what’s your best piece of kick-butt advice?
Believe in yourself no matter how many times you fail. If something is worth doing, it’s worth spending time perfecting it. And you will succeed if you get up every time you fall.
My fave quote says it all: “Shoot For The Moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
I cannot tell you who it’s by because Mr. Google has given me lots of conflicting options. I thank whoever wrote it because it’s my mantra.
Wonderful! Thank you so much for joining us, Mahtab!
Kick-butt Kidlit friends, add Mahtab’s books on Goodreads!
Mahtab Narsimhan Prize Pack – a copy of EMBRACE THE CHICKEN
Other available prizes:
Join us on Friday, March 22nd when we chat with author, Philippa Dowding!