Today I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Suppriya Kelkar and her debut novel AHIMSA.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age Range: Grades 3 to 7
Launch Date: October 2, 2017
Please tell us a little bit about your book.
AHIMSA takes place in 1942 in British-ruled India. After Mahatma Gandhi asks each family to give one member to the non-violent freedom movement, 10-year-old Anjali is devastated to think of her father risking his life to join. But it turns out he isn’t the one joining. Her mother is. As the family gets more involved in the resistance, Anjali must confront her privilege and prejudices to ensure their little part in the movement is completed.
What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?
The original idea for AHIMSA was based on my great-grandmother’s story. She was a Gandhian freedom fighter who was jailed for her role in the resistance. She later went on to become a congresswoman post-independence. I thought it was an incredible story with a strong female character full of persistence and resistance and social justice. Although the story is now fictional, I think it still retains those traits that drew me to the idea in the first place.
Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?
Coming from a screenwriting background, I always do little character write-ups first, getting to know my main characters. I then use the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet to figure out the beats I need and move on to outlining. Once that’s finished, I start writing the actual draft
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?
Vidhu Vinod Chopra, a Hindi film writer/director/producer has had a very big impact on my writing life. I started working on his writing team out of college and have learned so much from him about storytelling. It has been an incredible experience getting to learn from him.
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?
As a book that features an Indian character, AHIMSA can be a good pick for a mirror book and a window book. It also addresses social justice and privilege and resistance so although it takes place almost eighty years ago, many of its themes are relevant today, and can be used to show young readers they have what it takes to “alter the course of history” as Gandhi said.
I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?
My mom likes to tell the story about how when I was a kid and we went to see the Taj Mahal, while everyone else was admiring the Taj Mahal I was staring at a street dog saying, “Look at that dog!” So it is hard for me to pick my favorite dog but my childhood pet, Cookie, was a very loving Shih-Tzu and my best friend who I really miss.
Supriya Kelkar was born and raised in the Midwest. She learned Hindi as a child by watching three Bollywood films a week. After college she realized her lifelong dream of working in the film industry when she got a job as a Bollywood screenwriter. AHIMSA, inspired by her great-grandmother’s role in the Indian freedom movement, is her debut middle-grade novel. You can follow her on Instagram @supriya.kelkar and on twitter @soups25
Learn more at www.supriyakelkar.com