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Get to Know Asian American Children’s Authors: Padma Venkatraman, Author of A Time to Dance

smaller Padma

Our very first author in this blog series is the award-winning and versatile author, Padma Venkatraman. Her latest book is A Time to Dance. (Side note: I absolutely love this cover and have already purchased my copy of the book!)

Padma kindly answered 3 questions for me about her writing.

1) Which of your characters do you most identify with and why?

Padma Venkatraman: I identify with all my protagonists: Vidya of CLIMBING THE STAIRS because I had to fight just

as she had while growing up, because of my gender; Uido in ISLAND’S END because she’s a leader like I was; but, right now, probably Veda of A TIME TO DANCE most of all – because I went “method” when I wrote this book and spent time on crutches and with my leg bound, but also because I almost lost my leg as a teenager, after I was bitten by a snake.

2) Who is your favorite Asian American children’s author right now (other than yourself)?

PV: Laurence Yep, probably. He’s written very different types of stories – and I admire authors who excel at writing a wide variety of novels.

3) Were you a reader growing up? Why or why not?

PV: Absolutely. I had a very tough childhood, one that I wouldn’t wish on anybody, so books were my saving grace. They helped me escape sometimes, but more often, they helped me empathize, and helped me remain a good and kind kid, despite all I went through.

Reading is magical to me, because it involves my creativity (I’m making up a movie in my head as I read, a movie I direct), because books are time machines that transport me to other times and places and worlds, and because well written words cast spells that allow me to become another character and feel as that character feels.

Thank you Padma for taking the time to answer my questions!


About the author:

Padma Venkatraman turned to writing after obtaining a doctorate in oceanography at the College of William and Mary and conducting post-doctoral research in Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. She has participated on panels at Harvard University and at the PEN World Voices Festival, provided commencement speeches at schools, given keynote addresses at teacher and librarian conferences as well as international festivals, and has been featured on TV and radio, nationally and internationally. She was also interviewed in the documentary Library of the Early Mind. An American, she lives in RI with her family. Her first two novels, Climbing the Stairs and Island’s End, won several honors and multiple awards and her latest (A Time to Dance), was released in May 2014 to starred reviews in Kirkus, Booklist, VOYA and SLJ.

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