Padma Venkatraman is the author of four novels for teens and middle-grade readers. Her most recent book, The Bridge Home, tells the story of sisters Viji and Rukku when they run away from home, and make friends who help them survive on the streets. We loved its believable characters, vivid imag-ery, and beautiful, heartbreaking humanity. Her next novel, Born Behind Bars, will be released tomor-row. We were thrilled to interview Padma Venkatraman for this week's post!
Rapunzel Reads: The narrative of The Bridge Home is an interesting combination of first and second person, which I don't remember having seen before, and powerfully anchors the story around Rukku, despite being told from Viji's perspective. What inspired you to write it in that way, and what was it like doing so?
Padma Venkatraman: It is, indeed a very way to write a story - and it's also really hard to pull off (luckily I
RR: Who is your favorite character in The Bridge Home, and why?
PV: I love all my characters - not just in this novel, but also in BORN BEHIND BARS, and CLIMBING THE STAIRS and ISLAND'S END and THE BRIDGE HOME. But I will say, given that THE BRIDGE HOME was a global read aloud, it became quite clear to me that Rukku is by far the favorite character for most kids, and she surely has a very very special place in my heart! Like her, I have a disability, although it's invisible.
RR: What books inspired you when you were growing up?
PV: Unfortunately, when I was growing up - in the seventies, in India, there were pretty much no books that had protagonists of color. I sort of loved and hated THE SECRET GARDEN - loved the magic and mystery, but the racism and ableism in the book really upset and enraged me as a child. So now, I write the sort of books I would have loved to have seen as a kid!
RR: What is your favorite thing about being an author?
PV: Writing! I love the process of getting into character - putting myself in someone else's mind and heart and trying to see the world from their perspective. I feel as if it's a sort of listening meditation for me, a way to engage with my empathy as well as imagination and creativity.
RR: Do you have any tips for an aspiring writer?
PV: (see the video linked here! )
Author photo courtesy of Padma Venkatraman.