Today I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Kristi Wientge and her debut novel KARMA KHULLAR’S MUSTACHE.
Title: KARMA KHULLAR’S MUSTACHE
Age Range: MG
Launch Date: August 15, 2017
Please tell us a little bit about your book?
Karma is entering middle school and is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend, or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima, or that her daddy is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mom to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip. With everyone preoccupied, Karma has no one to turn to, and must figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise.
What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?
Being a hairy girl, I’ve always wanted to read about a hairy girl, but no one ever wrote a book about this topic. It was only after I attended a master class at a writing conference in Singapore that I was inspired to come up with an interesting character name and once I had the name Karma Khullar, the rest of the story fell into place!
Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?
For a story to really take off for me, I have to start with the voice. I just tried to put some voice into a manuscript that I love, but lacked voice and it didn’t work. I pretty much struggled for a year trying to squish voice into it. For me, I can have the plot, the emotional arcs, even know the ending, but if I don’t have a strong voice, I’m not going to be able to do the story justice.
We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or a librarian who had an effect on your writing life?
This question is so easy for me. My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Clark, was fresh out of college and brimming with ideas. She encouraged creative writing and let me and a friend put on plays for the class. She submitted my work to a publication for children’s writing. My short story Salt and Pepper was accepted and I just knew I was on my way to a Newberry!
What makes your book a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?
I’m not sure if the topic of facial hair is classroom worthy. As much as I wanted to read a book about another girl with facial hair as I was growing up, I would have been mortified if we’d read a book about it in class. I’m sure everyone in the classroom would be staring at me! What I would like to see teachers do is share this book with the girls they think it would help. Karma is dealing with more than just facial hair, she’s got family problems and friend problems and even if a girl isn’t hairy, I think it’d make the reader more empathetic towards girls they notice with hairiness issues.
I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?
I had a very dog-eared copy of BENJI by my bed for years and years growing up. I can still picture it in my head!
Kristi Wientge is originally from Ohio, where she grew up writing stories about animals, including (her favorite) a jet-setting mouse. After studying to become a teacher for children with special needs, she spent several years exploring the world from China to England, teaching her students everything from English to how to flip their eyelids. She’s spent the last twelve years raising her family in her husband’s home country of Singapore, where she spends her days taking her four kids to school, Punjabi lessons, and music class. You can find her at kristiwientge.com and on twitter at @kwientge