Swati Avasthi is the debut author of Split, which was released on March 9 from Random House books for young readers. =]
KBB: Did you always want to be a writer or did you picture yourself doing something else? If so, what was it?
SA: I’ve bounced around a lot. I taught autistic kids for about six months and worked in professional theater in Chicago. For a long time, I thought I’d be a lawyer. I worked as a paralegal, was a thesis away from a Mater’s in Criminal Justice and had about a year of law school under my belt when I left the law to raise my kids. I loved the law. Then again, my biggest role model for the law was Atticus Finch, so I guess, it’s a from literature to literature kind of thing.
KBB: Why did you decide to write a book for young adults?
SA: I’m not sure it was a decision per se. I’ve heard that you write what you love to read and that was true for me. I had been reading quite a few young adult novels when the idea for Split gelled and since it is the story of a 16 year old boy, it felt like a YA novel to me.
KBB: What do you consider the best part of being a writer?
SA: Do I have to choose just one? I’d say the flexibility of my schedule. I love it that being a writer and raising my kids go hand in hand.
KBB: Do you have any must-haves while you are writing?
SA: Headphones, a playlist, and caffeine.
KBB: Do you have a favorite character from your book?
SA: Jace, my protagonist, is my favorite, of course. But next to him would be Dakota. She’s strong and smart and carries the least baggage of everyone, so I enjoyed writing her.
KBB: Are any of the characters in your book based on people you know?
SA: Yes, but only the minor ones. Eric, a kid on Jace’s soccer team, is based on a guy I knew in high school. One character, Felix, was based heavily on a friend of mine. I was pretty sad when I had to cut that character from my book entirely in the sixth draft.
KBB: Do you have a favorite young adult book that you would recommend? It can be an upcoming release, new release, or even a pretty old one.
SA: Oh, so many, but I’ll limit myself to one from each category.
Upcoming release: Kristina McBride’s The Tension of Opposites (May, Egmont);
New Release: Julie Schumacher’s Blackbox (Delacort, 2009);
Pretty Old One: Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak.
KBB: Can you tell us anything about what you are currently working on? Any more YA novels in the plans?
SA: I’m on my second YA novel, BIDDEN (Knopf, 2011). Holly, Corey, and Savitri are looking forward to graduation and then a summer of comic book reading and free-running. But a shooting changes everything. Corey is dead; Savitri is looking for revenge, and Holly is sinking so deeply inside herself that no one – not even Savitri – can reach her. Portions of it are written as a graphic novel, so it’s been a blast and an intense learning experience.
KBB: Just for fun: What is your most embarrassing moment? It can be writing related but it doesn’t have to be.
SA: When I was meeting my son’s first grade teacher for the first time, I was holding my then two-year old daughter in my arms. She grabbed a hold of my snap-front shirt and pulled. With a series of quick pops, his teacher got to see more of me in that first meeting than either of us expected.
KBB: Wow that is quite embarrassing. Yikes. Thanks so much for the interview. I can’t wait to read Split and I am definitely going to check out the other books you mentioned. =]
Readers if you would like to know more about Swati Avasthi and her debut novel, here are some links for you.