Kid Lit Craft: Interview with Ritu Anand

by Olivia Fisher
published in Writing

Hello, fellow kid lit writers! I’m coming to you this week with another fantastic author interview. Our spotlight author this time is Ritu Anand, author of the vibrant and heartfelt picture book Kara’s Dreams. I had the pleasure of interviewing her, and I can’t wait to share her incredible insight and experiences writing for kids!

About Ritu Anand

Ritu Anand started writing when she could hold a pencil, but life kept getting in the way. For the past four years, she has chosen Writing as her career. She draws her inspiration from nature around her and her scripture—Sri Guru Granth Sahibjee.

When she sat down to write Kara’s Dreams, her pen flowed its ink onto paper, as a river floods its banks. The beautiful verse within the scripture that guided her story provides—Pavan Guru, Paani Pita, Mata Dharadh Mahat, Divas Raat Duii Dayee Daya, Khaileh Sagal Jagat. It means the Wind is the Guru. Water is the Father. Earth is the Mother. Day and Night are caretakers. All the elements—Wind, Water, Earth, Night and Day work in concert to enable creatures to play and enjoy this playground called Earth.

Ritu Anand lives in Sarasota, Florida with her loving husband. Her interests include reading, writing, singing Indian classical music, dancing to Bollywood music, traveling and playing golf.

About Kara’s Dreams

Little Kara had big dreams. But she had seen others around her defeated by the obstacles thrown at them, and she was fearful she might endure the same fate and never attain her dreams.

Was she good enough?

Was she strong enough?

Would she be able to overcome hardships?

Kara, a young tree in the forest, decides to ask a wise, mature tree for advice. The mentoring helps Kara realize that she has everything within her to reach her dreams; she just needs to adjust to her surroundings and believe in herself.

This wonderful children’s story represents the debut book by Ritu Anand of Sarasota, Florida. The tale is augmented by Veen Redwood’s rich, beautiful illustrations.

Kara’s Dreams is a tale of faith, growth, and resilience. Any child will love the story and pictures.

Interview with Ritu Anand

Olivia Fisher: What made you want to write for kids?

Ritu Anand: From the day I was born I was writing, whether on office walls or newspapers. My mom had a hard time handling me, haha. In the space of my mind, I think of myself as a child and imagine that I never grew up. I like doing activities that are spontaneous and propelled by my innermost desires. I also love, love, love working with kids because when I look into the eyes of a child, I see a whole new world. I see magic. I see possibilities, and suddenly, my creativity starts to flow. That’s how I know I belong in the kid lit world, and I’m here to stay. Childhood is such a brief and beautiful time, and honestly, for both children and adults, I would prefer it to be eternal. That’s my wish for every child and adult.

OF: That’s such a lovely way of expressing your desire to write for kids! 

Tell us a little bit about your first book Kara’s Dreams!

RA: My inspiration for my book Kara’s Dreams comes from my holy book, and the scripture Kara’s Dreams is based on is very beautiful. It’s universal, and on my author page in the book, I describe the actual verse. It explains how this entire Earth is a playground in which all the creatures play and how that’s the beauty and definition of life. We’re here to play responsibly and should rejoice. This life is a beautiful gift. 

OF: What an incredible theme for a book. It’s such a great message for kids and adults!

RA: Yes! As a seven-year-old, I was scared of the dark. I grew up in twin homes in New Delhi and had to cross an alley to get home. I wasn’t normally allowed to cross it in the dark. But one day, I made a promise to myself to gather the courage to cross it. So I started reciting my scripture to give myself courage. In doing that, I said to myself, “Wow, I can do this. I can cross this.” That’s the theme of Kara’s Dreams. It’s about survival. It’s about empowering ourselves in the midst of adversity and maintaining a positive attitude.

What did the publishing process look like for you and your book?

RA: I wanted to do independent publishing on purpose because I’m a control freak, haha. I wanted creative freedom. I was terrified at the thought of giving up control of my book to a traditional publisher. My husband and I are both avid hikers, and we come across some very challenging hikes and visit the forests often. Because of this, I decided I wanted to make Kara’s Dreams an anthropomorphic tale with all these trees as characters, and I worried that an illustrator wouldn’t be able to get my vision across if I wasn’t able to tell them what I was thinking. How could they accurately depict that? So that’s the main reason why I wanted to go with Indie publishing. I befriended the wonderful Veen Redwood, who is from Sri Lanka. Kara’s Dreams is her nineteenth book, and she’s done an amazing job connecting with me as a person and creating the illustrations for the book. I’ve really enjoyed the journey of indie publishing!

OF: I’ve read Kara’s Dreams, and the illustrations blew me away, so I’m glad you chose indie publishing and had such a wonderful illustrator in Veen Redwood to work with.

What was the hardest part about publishing independently?

RA: I think trusting which publisher would be the right one was one of the hardest parts of publishing independently. I really prayed about it. I prayed that I would come in contact with the right publisher. At the time, the publisher I chose was going through some difficult experiences, and there was a lack of communication for a while, but my connection with them came from a personal recommendation I trusted. I went with Pathfinder, and I really respect them. The publisher has almost twenty-five years of journalism experience behind him and comes from the writing world. That’s why I went with them. But it was such a hard decision to make, you know?

OF: Yes! I can imagine how hard it would be to choose a publisher for yourself. I’m glad you found a publisher that helped you create the book you dreamed of.

What’s next on your author journey?

OF: Okay, this has been a beautiful interview, and I’m always so sad that I only get to share a small portion of it through words on the blog, but I know readers will love getting to know you and your writing journey. Speaking of your author journey, what’s next? Do you have any books in mind or stories that you’re looking forward to telling? 

RA: Yes. I Am My Language is my next book. It’s about a little seven-year-old me. I taught myself how to read and write a new language, which is typically my first language, Punjabi. I went to an all-girls Catholic school in India where I was only taught English and not the language of my heart. I would listen to people at home talking in Punjabi and speaking it. I could understand it, but I could not speak it. I undertook this task to teach it to myself. The adults at home were super busy people, and nobody had the time to sit with me or read to me. So I grabbed hold of this translator, which belonged to my aunt who maintained a little library at home, and started teaching myself. She had some Punjabi books, and the translator enabled me to translate Punjabi letters and words to Romanized English. I could literally see each letter and how it could be pronounced. I would bug the hell out of my adults by reading aloud so that they could hear me and correct me over and over and over until I got it. I wanted to share this experience in a picture book for kids, so that’s my next project!

OF: That’s so beautiful that you are capturing this in a book for kids! So will this be a picture book?

RA: Yes!

OF: That’s great! I can’t wait to see it!

Ritu, thank you for taking the time to share your beautiful picture book with us and offering some valuable insight on indie publishing and your experience as an author! Congratulations on Kara’s Dreams! You can follow along with Ritu’s writing on her website! Be sure to check out her beautiful poems as well there!

Tell us in the comments: What were your big takeaways from this interview with Ritu Anand?

Olivia Fisher

Olivia Fisher is a children’s lit writer and freelance editor with an English degree from BYU-Idaho. When she isn’t dreaming about living in a treehouse or chasing down her two young boys, she enjoys curling up with a book, watching Star Wars, writing her next adventure, and trying to live in the state of child-like wonder that we all secretly, or not so secretly, miss. Follow her adventures on Twitter or Instagram, or hire her for your next editing escapade on Fiverr.

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