Author Chat with Veera Hiranandani (How To Find What You're Not Looking For), Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we are chatting with Veera Hiranandani, author of
How To Find What You're Not Looking For!
Read on for more about Veera, her book, and giveaway!
Meet Veera Hiranandani
Veera Hiranandani is the author of The Night Diary, which has received many awards including the 2019 Newbery Honor Award, the 2019 Walter Dean Myers Honor Award, and the 2018 Malka Penn Award for Human Rights in Children's Literature. She is also the author of The Whole Story of Half a Girl, which was named a Sydney Taylor Notable Book and a South Asia Book Award Highly Commended selection, and the chapter book series, Phoebe G. Green. She earned her MFA in fiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College. A former book editor at Simon & Schuster, she now teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College's Writing Institute.
Meet How To Find What You're Not Looking For!
New historical fiction from a Newbery Honor–winning author about how middle schooler Ariel Goldberg's life changes when her big sister elopes following the 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision, and she's forced to grapple with both her family's prejudice and the antisemitism she experiences, as she defines her own beliefs.
Twelve-year-old Ariel Goldberg's life feels like the moment after the final guest leaves the party. Her family's Jewish bakery runs into financial trouble, and her older sister has eloped with a young man from India following the Supreme Court decision that strikes down laws banning interracial marriage. As change becomes Ariel's only constant, she's left to hone something that will be with her always--her own voice.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I often use my own background to explore certain pressing themes and questions. How to Find What You’re Not Looking For is inspired by my parents’ decision to marry. In 1968, my Jewish American mother married my Hindu father, who was a recent immigrant from India. Their families were not happy about the marriage at first. Over time, everyone evolved and accepted their marriage, but it wasn’t an easy journey. I’ve wondered what this decision was like for my parents. They married only a year after the Supreme Court ruling, Loving V. Virginia, which banned all laws against interracial marriage. There were sixteen states that still had anti-miscegenation laws at the time of the 1967 ruling. I didn’t want to tell my parents’ exact story, but hoped to create something that could unpack some of these themes from a younger person’s point of view while asking questions about religious and racial identity set against the historical backdrop of the 1960s.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
I love all my characters for different reasons, but I usually have the "closest" relationship with the main character. Honestly, when I'm finished with a book after working on it for many years, I truly believe that the characters I've created are real people! I deeply love the main character, Ariel, or Ari as she's often called in the book. She doesn't know how smart, strong, and brave she is, but she moves closer to discovering that and owning it in the story. Somehow I know she'll grow up and become a force to be reckoned with.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
For this novel, the title took longer than it normally does for me. It was originally called something else, then we went through several choices until the book took more specific shape and feel. I started to think more about how the second person POV has an "instruction manual" tone, like you're showing someone else how to do something even though that person is you, but it's also the other person. I started to think about naming all the chapters as some sort of "How to" title and then it finally came together. It's a long title, but I love it. I love the way it makes people pause and think a little bit.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
Oh, that's a hard one. There's a scene where a big life moment is happening (I won't say what because I don't want to spoil it) and most of the key characters are all in the same room together. I wanted it to feel emotional and real. It's always hard to write a scene where you KNOW you want it to have a big emotional impact and still have it feel organic. It's much easier to stumble upon these moments. It was probably the scene I revised the most, but I'm happy with the result.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
It wasn't easy to get the cover right for this book. There were so many elements to bring together, Ari's writing journey, her sister's relationship with her boyfriend, Raj, Ari's parents and their bakery, the historical elements of 1967 like the Supreme Court Loving vs. Virginia ruling that's featured in the book. It's a lot! I love how the cover somehow blends all these elements together and feels hopeful, dynamic, and complex without being too much--the same way I hope the story feels to the reader!
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2021?
There are so many!!! A few I'm excited to read are Saadia Faruqi's Yusuf Azeem is Not a Hero, Padma Venkatraman's Born Behind Bars, The Many Meanings of Meilan by Andrea Wang, and The Magical Imperfect by Chris Baron.
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2020?
I still have a huge list of TBR for 2020! I don't always keep up with what's coming out and often need to follow my own reading path, but a few I read and loved were King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Calendar, Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar, and I'm currently reading Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
Right now I'm working on a few first ever picture book manuscripts and a sequel to The Night Diary. I love reconnecting with the characters in The Night Diary. It's like coming home after being away on another exciting adventure.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
The mother, I call her "Ma" in the book, was challenging. It can be difficult to write an honest maternal character. If you put in too many fully human or negative qualities, she can be read very quickly as a "bad" mom if she's not an all-knowing, all-loving saint, which is frustrating. Ma is so strong, resourceful, and sometimes fearless, but she can also be stubborn or limited in her thinking. She's trying to hold everything together, but also driving everyone a little bit nuts, and part of the reason is because she's EXHAUSTED. I wanted her to be seen as an actual complex person and have her daughters' have to see her that way, too. And as a mother during a pandemic, I related!
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
They both have their own joys and challenges. Drafting can be really fun and freeing in the beginning, but after the newness wains, it can take a lot of discipline to reach the finish line of the first draft. Revising can be really absorbing, sort of like working with the clay you've thrown down, but when you're on the tenth revision, it's hard to have a fresh perspective on your story. That's why it's so helpful to have a great editor who keeps you going and helps you see the story with fresh eyes for every revision. My editor for HOW TO FIND, Namrata Tripathi, does this so well!
How To Find What You're Not Looking For
Author: Veera Hiranandani
Publisher:Kokila; Penguin Young Readers
Publish Date: September 14th, 2021
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