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VANISHED – Interview and Giveaway!

Uncategorized

One of our own contributing members of the Mixed-Up Files, Sheela Chari, will be making her author debut on August 9, 2011.

VANISHED  (Disney, Hyperion Books)

Missing. Found. And gone again. Eleven-year-old Neela dreams of being a famous musician, performing for admiring crowds on her traditional Indian stringed instrument. Her particular instrument was a gift from her grandmother — intricately carved with a mysterious-looking dragon.

When this special family heirloom vanishes from a local church, strange clues surface: a teakettle ornamented with a familiar pointy-faced dragon, a threatening note, a connection to a famous dead musician, and even a legendary curse.  The clues point all the way to India, where it turns out that Neela’s instrument has a long history of vanishing and reappearing. Even if Neela does track it down, will she be able to stop it from disappearing again?

Sheela Chari’s debut novel is a finely tuned story of coincidence and fate, trust and deceit, music and mystery.

Through the wonderful world of blogging, Sheela Chari and I have known each other for about, oh, five years. I remember that when her book was on submission she worked on other writing projects, plus, she held an internship at a publishing house, and she had her second baby. Then one day on her blog she “spilled the beans” about her book sale. Her post was so subtle and humble that many of her readers missed the announcement. That was more than 2 years ago. Here’s the link to her post.

A lot has changed in Sheela’s family life as well as her writing career since I first met her. I’ve often wondered what it’s like for a family when a parent becomes a published author and rather than asking Sheela about it, I decided to ask her daughter. Keerthana is seven years old and has a baby sister who is two-and-a-half years old.  Our interview was done mostly by way of video — I emailed her questions and she answered them for me in front of a camera. It was really fun for me to hear her voice and her laugh, plus she’s got a wonderful toothless smile.

Hi Keerthana! I happen to know that your mother plays the violin and VANISHED is about a musician. I get the impression music is an important part of your family life.

Yes. I love to play the piano and the violin. The violin is my favorite because I’ve been learning it longer than piano. I love playing instruments. I love music.

In VANISHED, the main character, Neela, was based on your real-life cousin named Neela who really does play the veena. How did you feel about your mother writing a book about your cousin?

I felt happy. It’s a nice family, character kind of book. I kind of wish she’d written about me but I’m still really glad she wrote about Neela because she wrote a wonderful novel. My name, Keerthana, is a type of song that you learn on the veena. My name is mentioned  about four times in the epilogue at the end of the book. That’s how my mom fit me in – Neela plays it on her veena. I think my mom will write a book about me someday.

Are you a writer too? Does your mom help you?

Right now in school we’re writing our own fairy tales and folk tales. I’m also writing my own novel on the computer. My mom helps sometimes. I need help with the way the page is laid out. I want to do it all by myself because otherwise it’s not really my book.  Maybe she can help edit the spelling and punctuation.

From your experience you probably know a lot about how a book gets published. Can you explain it to us?

First, you get your contract – your agent and editor take care of it. The contract tells you for sure that the book is going to get published and it gives the amount of money you need. Mom had, like, five deadlines with her editor and she was very busy during this time. (Keerthana laughs) I was stuck with my little sister and mom was working on the computer. She got pretty stressed out, she almost started screaming. It took her about ten months.

What were your favorite parts about the process?

I especially loved Jon Klassen’s drawings. They were really cool. We also got an unbound galley while we were on vacation in the summer of 2010. It was awesome! I read the prologue and first chapter and it was really good. A few months later, we got the ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) and I loved reading the whole book together with my mom.  I actually loved everything. I can’t say that there was a favorite part of the process. (To see more of Jon Klassen’s amazing artwork, like the wyvern shown here, go to:  http://www.burstofbeaden.com/ )

What was your least favorite part of the process?

The deadlines. They took away all the time and we had fast food for dinner.

I can imagine! Mostly it sounds like you’ve enjoyed being a part of your mother’s book publication journey, but has anything been difficult over the past year since your mom has been working so hard on her writing?

No. Maybe if I was younger. She was suddenly not spending as much time with us and the household kind of flipped a little. I used to be able to sit with her at night, we’d talk and she’d read to me. But then, now, she’s working in the night and she has other stuff to do too. But since I’m older, almost eight, it didn’t feel like such a big deal. It’s a happy household and I feel really happy. I’m really glad that VANISHED is coming out.

I’m glad too! Keerthana, thank you so much for answering all of my questions. I’ve enjoyed “meeting” you and I have a feeling that someday I’ll be interviewing your mom with questions about what it’s like to have a daughter who’s a famous author and illustrator.

To learn more about Sheela Chari, go to her website: www.sheelachari.com . And don’t forget to visit Keerthana’s page on the site where she wrote something about art.

If you’d like to win an ARC of VANISHED, just leave a post in the comment section and on Tuesday, January 25, I will draw names and announce the winner.

Jennifer Duddy Gill has the privilege of working with truly amazing kids in an elementary school in Denver. She also writes humorous middle-grade novels and is represented by Wendy Schmalz.

42 Comments

40 Comments

  1. Heather  •  Jan 21, 2011 @8:39 am

    Vanished sounds an interesting book. I’m always on the lookout for new authors to introduce to my students. I can think of a few girls in particular (of Indian descent) who seldom “see themselves” represented on the pages of the books they read that will probably love this book. I’m looking forward to reading it, and hope to see more novels from Sheela Chari in the future!

  2. Karen Scott  •  Jan 21, 2011 @9:00 am

    Sounds like a great book! I’d love to be part of the drawing for an ARC. And I think Sheela was very brave to let you interview her daughter — who let details slip like “we had fast food for dinner” when mom was busy!! (Made me laugh! I’m not sure I’d be willing to let my kids talk about what I’m like when I’m knee deep in a writing project!)

  3. Karen B. Schwartz  •  Jan 21, 2011 @9:25 am

    That was so sweet. Wonderful to hear Keerthana’s perspective! I look forward to reading Vanished!

  4. Kristen H.  •  Jan 21, 2011 @9:58 am

    What a sweet interview! Love hearing Keerthana’s thoughts! Can’t wait to read Vanished. :)

  5. Robin Reul  •  Jan 21, 2011 @10:20 am

    This sounds like such a fantastic book. I love that such smart books are being written for the middle grade audience instead of being tamed down thinking that kids this age aren’t interested in using their brain and being taken on an adventure rather than just reading about the same age old topics. While there is something to be said for those as well in their timeless quality, nothing beats a great, unique story that lets you travel to new places and open the doors of your mind. Can’t wait to get this one for my almost ten year old, who is a voracious reader. This is completely up her alley, especially since she is an aspiring musician as well. That will definitely draw her into the main character. Sounds great!!

  6. Writer Tessa  •  Jan 21, 2011 @10:21 am

    What an adorable interview!!! Loved it :)

  7. LG  •  Jan 21, 2011 @10:58 am

    Keerthana is so cute! It’s great to get her perspective as someone directly impacted by the writing and publishing process. I’m really excited to check out Vanished!

  8. Caroline Starr Rose  •  Jan 21, 2011 @10:59 am

    Keerthana, I know it can be hard on the kids during deadlines. My family also knows about fast food and “flipped” households. It’s lovely to see how you’ve been such a loving support to your mom!

    Can’t wait to read her wonderful book.

  9. Jannavi  •  Jan 21, 2011 @11:43 am

    That was such a nice interview, very well thought out answers, I am truly impressed! We are waiting to get our hands on Vanished this summer, Sheela. Good luck with your story writing, Keerthana!

  10. Holly  •  Jan 21, 2011 @2:51 pm

    I remember when this book was just an idea! (I think i even saw some of the first chapters.) This is super exciting! Congrats, Sheela. I am betting that this book will do well; it sounds like the sort of book booksellers love. ;)

  11. Sara Zoe  •  Jan 21, 2011 @3:43 pm

    Oh, I hope we win this one even more than I normally hope! Sounds so unique and interesting – I love fresh ideas!

  12. Stephanie Burgis  •  Jan 21, 2011 @3:44 pm

    What a lovely interview! It’s fascinating to get Keerthana’s perspective. And I can’t wait to read this book!

  13. Charlotte  •  Jan 21, 2011 @4:55 pm

    That sounds like a facinating book–I’ll add it to my list!

  14. Cathio  •  Jan 21, 2011 @5:51 pm

    Thanks for helping us learn more about the publishing process, Keerthana! You have a beautiful smile, and I’m sure it will inspire your mom to write that book about you soon (not to put the pressure on, Sheela…)!

  15. Cathe Olson  •  Jan 21, 2011 @6:00 pm

    Sounds like a neat book . . . I’m always looking for books that give my students a glimpse of another country or culture.

  16. Linda Andersen  •  Jan 21, 2011 @6:04 pm

    What a clever way to conduct an interview instead of asking the author. Keerthana is an extremely smart and mature seven-year-old. She was delightful.

    Please enter me in the drawing. Thank you!

    Linda A.

  17. Pragmatic Mom  •  Jan 21, 2011 @6:39 pm

    Sounds wonderful. I’d love to win and read it!

  18. Diana Greenwood  •  Jan 21, 2011 @6:40 pm

    Loved this interview! Keerthana gave us a nice peek into the life of a writer from the family’s perspective. She sounds so bright and no doubt we’ll be seeing her name on a cover some day!

    Sheela, the book sounds great!

  19. Margaret Nevinski  •  Jan 21, 2011 @6:45 pm

    Keerthana, your interview inspired me and made me smile. Thanks for sharing how much a family can contribute to a book being published. Good luck with your own writing!

  20. Kathy McCullough  •  Jan 21, 2011 @6:54 pm

    Wow, Keerthana is very mature! Of course, she is almost eight, so that explains it! This was a great interview. It’s amazing how much she knows about the publishing process. And I’m happy to hear she’s writing her own novel too! :)

  21. Mariska  •  Jan 21, 2011 @8:43 pm

    Wonderful interview. I’d love to win this :)

  22. Karen  •  Jan 21, 2011 @10:01 pm

    Sounds like an interesting book, and I love the perspective of the daughter on her mom writing!

  23. Llehn  •  Jan 22, 2011 @12:49 am

    This sounds like something I woul read :D

  24. Lisa Schroeder  •  Jan 22, 2011 @9:35 am

    Keerthana, your mom is SO lucky to have you – what a supportive daughter you are. I still remember when your mom announced the sale of VANISHED. I can’t wait to read it!! Thank you for taking the time to do the interview, I enjoyed it!

  25. Preeti Kishore  •  Jan 22, 2011 @10:13 am

    What a wonderful interview! Keerthana was so thoughtful and candid. I love it. Look forward to reading the book. So proud of you and your Mom….

  26. Suzy  •  Jan 22, 2011 @12:54 pm

    I’d love to have a copy of the book to read and pass on to my colleagues. What a great interview, too.

  27. Conni  •  Jan 22, 2011 @2:32 pm

    Sounds like a lovely book. I would love a win a copy. Otherwise, I will definitely purchase a copy for my classroom library.

  28. colleen rowan kosinski  •  Jan 22, 2011 @4:40 pm

    I’d love to be included in the drawing for this book.

  29. Rosanne Parry  •  Jan 22, 2011 @5:10 pm

    Congratulations Sheela! It looks like a great book.

    I’ve got a girls and music book coming out in the spring and I’ve been organizing a bunch of musical book events where I invite kid musicians to come and play with me. We should think about doing an event together. That would be a hoot! Please get in touch!

  30. sheelachari  •  Jan 22, 2011 @7:21 pm

    Thanks everyone for your comments. Thanks so much Jennifer for interviewing Keerthana and doing such a great job putting together the post.

    @Holly – yes, I remember those days when VANISHED was just in its infancy and I showed you and a few others the early chapters.

    @Rosanne – I would love to do something together with you. I’ll email you. :)

    Keerthana would also like to add: Thank you so much for the comments. Thank you to Jennifer for interviewing me. I learned how to take my time answering questions. :) Doing the interview was so much fun!

    Jennifer Duddy Gill Reply:

    @sheelachari, It was fun for me too and Keerthana made my job both delightful and easy! Plus, VANISHED is such a wonderful book, I want everyone to know about it!

  31. Deb Marshall  •  Jan 23, 2011 @8:39 am

    Thank you for the interview, Keerthana! I’m looking forward to reading your mom’s book and will be sure to share it with my book club kids! Do you have a book that you recently read you’d like to recommend they read now? I have kids who are aged 8 to 12 in my club. Thanks again!

    sheelachari Reply:

    @Deb Marshall, Hi Deb, here are some books that Keerthana read recently that she recommends:

    Walls Within Walls by Maureen Sherry – “3 kids find a mysterious painting of an eye behind a radiator, which leads them on to a very thrilling mystery”

    It’s Raining Cupcakes by Lisa Schroeder – “a girl, whose mother owns a cupcake store, enters a baking contest, to win a trip to New York City.”

  32. S A Putnam  •  Jan 23, 2011 @9:49 am

    Wonderful interview Keerthana! I remember when your mom was in my online critique group and was just starting to write VANISHED. I can’t wait to read it and would love to be included in the drawing.

    Sharon

  33. Jill  •  Jan 23, 2011 @9:54 am

    This book sounds great! And I love the interview – what a fun way to share about the book.

  34. Anshul Gupta  •  Jan 23, 2011 @11:18 pm

    Sheela, congratulations! And Keethana’s interview was great. Look forward to the book.

  35. Liz G.  •  Jan 23, 2011 @11:57 pm

    Great interview with Keethana.
    So happy for you, Sheela. Can’t wait to read Vanished.

  36. Laurie Beth Schneider  •  Jan 24, 2011 @1:07 am

    What a delight! I shudder to think how my daughter would describe our household…!

  37. Nancye Davis  •  Jan 24, 2011 @5:44 pm

    This sounds like a really interesting book! Thanks for the chance.

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  38. Liz Basescu  •  Jan 27, 2011 @4:54 pm

    Keerthana, it was so nice to see you today in person and get a chance to read your wonderful interview, too! You know so much about publishing already, it’s amazing. I can’t wait to read “Vanished” and maybe I can get both you and your mom to write a message in it- after all, you sure did your part, being such a supportive daughter.

    :-) Liz

  39. Clare  •  Jan 31, 2011 @12:22 pm

    Wonderful interview! Yay, Keerthana! Yay, Sheela!

  40. Barbara Baker  •  Feb 12, 2011 @4:05 pm

    I love the cover art for VANISHED. I am very much looking forward to reading the book. It sounds great.