Today we're excited to chat with Chandra Prasad, author of Damselfly. Read on for more about Chandra and her book, plus a giveaway!
Meet Chandra Prasad!
Chandra Prasad is the originator and editor of Mixed, an anthology of short stories on the multiracial experience. She is also the author of several critically acclaimed novels for adults, including On Borrowed Wings. Damselfly is her YA debut. A graduate of Yale, Chandra lives and works in Connecticut. To find out more, visit her online at chandraprasad.com.
Their survival is in their own hands...
Samantha Mishra opens her eyes and discovers she's alone and injured in the thick of a jungle. She has no idea where she is, or what happened to the plane taking her and the rest of the Drake Rosemont fencing team across the Pacific for a tournament. Once Sam connects with her best friend, Mel, and they find the others, they set up shelter and hope for rescue. But as the days pass, the teens realize they're on their own, stranded on an island with a mysterious presence that taunts and threatens them. Soon Sam and her companions discover they need to survive more than the jungle... they need to survive each other.
This taut novel, with a setting evocative of Lord of the Flies, is by turns cinematic and intimate, and always thought-provoking.
A Chat with Chandra Prasad:
What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
This is an easy one for me. In 8th grade we read Lord of the Flies as part of my school’s English curriculum. I was riveted by the novel, but not so much by my teacher’s assessment of it. She said, “So you see, class, Golding’s island was a perfect microcosm of human society.”
A perfect microcosm? Seriously? The island couldn’t possibly be a “perfect” microcosm because—guess what?—there were no girls on it! Nor were there any people of color. Nor was there any class hierarchy, except maybe by age. All of the kids on the island fit more or less the same mold.
Since that time, I’ve wanted to create a modern adventure novel that grapples with the same themes in Lord of the Flies, but that features a diverse cast more in line with today’s global society. Damselfly is my answer to that 8th grade quandary.
Who is your favorite character in the book?
My favorite character in the book is definitely Mel (short for “Amelia”), the awkward, whip-smart survivalist daughter of a botanist mother and a modern-day explorer father. Not only is Mel self-sufficient and able to deftly use the natural resources around her to her advantage, but she is also immune to the cattiness of the other girls. Add to that the fact that Mel has a big heart and she earns the top spot, at least for me.
Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel came first, but the title might as well have arrived at the exact same time. It is a perfect fit for the book on three levels. First, Damselfly reflects the fact that this novel shares a similar setting and sensibility with Lord of the Flies. Second, girls rule my novel, and Damselfly reveals that. Third, damselflies (the insects) are quite elegant and pretty, but they are also dangerous predators—a lot like Rittika, the main antagonist in my novel.
Like many writers, I’ve received my fair share of rejection over the years. Early in my career, I probably received 50 rejection letters for every one acceptance letter. That kind of average can take a heavy toll on anyone. But I survived, and looking back, I wish I could tell my younger self not to worry as much, to have more confidence and faith, and to try to tune out a lot of the negativity.
What do you like most about the cover of the book?
Damselfly’s book cover illustrator, Leo Nickolls, and designer, Mary Claire Cruz, did a fantastic job. I love how at first glance there is a striking silhouette of a young girl in a fiery, ominous color scheme of black, red, and orange. But if you look a little harder, you notice that there is a detailed illustration within the silhouette that reveals various themes, characters, and symbols in the book.
What’s up next for you?
I have finished another YA novel and am looking forward to getting it out there to readers. More news to come on that front!
Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
Does anyone like revising? I certainly don’t! But it’s the most important part of the writing process, and I’ve never regretted combing over the same page a thousand times. There’s always room for improvement.
Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
Wildlife and nature are a big part of Damselfly. Not surprisingly, I support many causes that champion environmental protection and conservation. Some of my favorite nonprofits include the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which encourages endangered species conservation, The Nature Conservancy, and the Sierra Club.
Locally, I encourage people to reconsider using pesticides and herbicides on their lawns, as the vast majority contain chemicals that are toxic to both humans and animals. These same toxins inevitably enter our water supply and stick around for a long time. For more information on healthy alternatives to lawn pesticides, visit Beyond Pesticides at https://www.beyondpesticides.o
Finally, there is a huge amount of compelling data on the dangers of playing fields and playgrounds made with crumb rubber, which comes from waste car tires. Many schools continue to install very expensive crumb rubber playing fields, though crumb rubber contains over twenty recognized human carcinogens. Grass is the best option, and certainly the healthiest. Read what doctors and scientists at Mount Sinai have to say about this topic:
What would you say is your superpower?
By: Chandra Prasad
Release Date: March 27, 2018