Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Q&A with Suma Subramaniam




Suma Subramaniam is the author of the new children's picture book biography She Sang for India: How M.S. Subbulakshmi Used Her Voice for Change. Her other books include Namaste Is a Greeting. She also works for a software company.


Q: What inspired you to write this picture book biography of singer M.S. Subbulakshmi (1916-2004)?


A: The inspiration for this story came from listening to M.S. Subbulakshmi’s voice every day of my childhood. Her life is an example of how a small-town girl broke barriers and made a difference in the world. In her time, it was rare for a woman to make a mark in the world. Subbulakshmi made it very far and her career lasted more than seven decades. All of this inspired me to tell her story for kids.


Q: How did you research her life?


A: M.S. Subbulakshmi’s work and life story is available on the internet. Other than that, I researched newspaper articles, adult biographies about her, and I interviewed her family.


Q: What do you think Shreya Gupta's illustrations add to the book?


A: Shreya has brought M.S. Subbulakshmi to life in the pages of the book. I’m so grateful to have an amazing partner in Shreya for this project. She studied about Subbulakshmi. I shared my research material and we also chatted on video and email. Shreya’s attention to detail in her art on the pages of the book is not to be missed.

Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?


A: I hope how children practice their craft, and have the courage to use their power and their voice for the good of the world.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m currently working on multiple projects.


My debut fiction picture book, Namaste Is a Greeting, illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat (Candlewick Press) released on Oct. 11 this year. Other than that, I have quite a few upcoming projects in the works.


The Runaway Dosa, illustrated by Parvati Pillai (Little Bee Books), releases in fall next year. It’s a fairy tale mash-up of “The Gingerbread Man” and the Tamil rhyme “Dosai Amma Dosai.”


In 2024, I have three books:


A Bindi is a Dot, illustrated by Kamala Nair (Kids Can Press), releases in spring 2024. This picture book is a celebration of the beauty and cultural significance of bindis that explores the different names for bindis, when and how they are worn, and how they are made.


My Name Is Long As a River, illustrated by Tara Anand (Penguin Workshop), releases in fall 2024. The picture book follows young Kaveri—who insists on a nickname—as she and her Paati take a journey along the Kaveri River. As they travel, stories of how Kaveri got her long name unfold, deepening her understanding of who she is.


The first of my middle grade series, V. Malar: Pongal Super Host releases in 2024 and the second book is slated for release in 2025.


I have one more book that is yet to be announced.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Deborah! Here’s where readers can find me:


Website: https://sumasubramaniam





--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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