Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Author interview with Jyothsna Raju

My next author interview is with the award-winning Jyothsna Raju, who writes fantasy and literary realism aimed at middle grade children. She has also produced a picture book. She first indie published in 2021, so let's meet her.

'I'm an early childhood educator. I live in India with my mom, dad and brother. I love pets and kids. 

Before writing books I worked in several places, in corporate and the private sector, but my mom is my greatest inspiration for me to write books. Watching kids whilst working in a preschool pushed me more into writing. That is when I penned my first book SHE IS MY MOM. It has won several awards like Sahityakosh award and Tagore Commemorative award (2022 and 2023).

HOW I SAVED THE ANTS! has won the golden wizard award and has over 100+ reviews in AMAZON. It has also gained the BESTSELLER BANNER in AMAZON site.'

Wow, this sounds very impressive for a new author! Does she have a tweetable for us (tweet here):

'I write for kids who can relate to my characters. I want to tell them they are not alone.
I have seen kids struggle to express  their feelings and I write topics which relate  to them, such as values, grief and sorrow.'

She's already touched on this, but what inspired her to take that leap and become a writer?
'My mom is my greatest inspiration. I have watched her narrate stories to our neighbourhood kids. They absolutely loved it and used to insist her to tell stories everyday running to our home.

Since then, I've become an early childhood educator. I have worked in a preschool for 2 years and love interacting with kids. They are my source of my joy. Watching kids and their innocence inspires me.'

How lovely! What does she enjoy the most about writing?
'Writing is a therapy for me. I get lost in the fantasy world whilst writing and forget everything around me - my pain, stress, even my depression almost gets healed during this time.'

Gosh, that's powerful. What has she found the hardest part?
'It's getting the words onto paper. I'll have everything in my head but during writing I space out and start thinking about what to write. I also suffer from writers block. 

The hardest part of getting it published is marketing. It's one of the hardest thing I have faced.'

That's probably one of the most common comments from indie authors. It's such a shame. What does she consider the best money she's spent as a writer?
'Paying for an illustrator, and finding the best one for my book after completing a lot of research.'

How does she get around writing characters very different from herself?
'The most difficult thing is imagining myself as these characters. I complete research first and then put it onto paper when I feel I've mastered them.'

Does Jyothsna read reviews of her books and how does she deal with them?
'Yes, I read my reviews, but believe me it's not a good thing. Most of the time I cried and felt depressed and questioned whether I'm a good author. I have 1* to 5* reviews on my recent book. As authors, we can't please everyone. They all have their tastes.

Recently I was feeling low after reading a review. That's when I heard in a podcast which was hosted by Booksend literary agents telling authors not to read reviews because they are not for authors, they're for readers to decide whether it's for them.
After listening to them, I stopped taking reviews seriously!

I've used it to help with my next book, applying some of the constructive criticism to improve my work. I ignore reviews which don't make sense, or those which are there just to shame you or the book.' 

So now onto her book, How I Saved the Ants! Can she give us a synopsis?
'Meet Cheeku, a seven-year-old boy who lives in the enchanting forest of Cheekupur. One day, on his quest to place the tiny objects as ordered by his granny, he falls into a vast tunnel and meets tiny ants. 

After observing how the ants treat him, their queen gets furious and gives him a blessing, which changes his life.

This will be a delight for all the little ones filled with curiosity and ant lovers. Kids will love following a little boy as he goes on a magical adventure and meets tiny ants, where he learns about their qualities such as hard work, persistence and bravery.'

Can she give us an extract?  
'The ant queen sprinted in the direction of cheeku and instructed the ants to fix him back.

“I'm sorry, my child, we are good ants we don't harm others unnecessarily”

“Ants are cool!
  Ants are brave!
  If they can do it,
  I can too!”

She added,
'Join the adventures of Cheeku as he saved the ants while learning what is teamwork, hardwork, bravery and resilience.'

Which was the hardest scene to write? 
'Where Cheeku falls inside the anthill. It was the hardest because I had to put myself inside Cheeku’s shoes and imagine on what he feels - as an ant!'
Did she need to complete research then?
'Yes. I read encyclopaedia about ants and watched many movies about ants too. I also asked my friends for their opinions.
Ants have always amazed me. I used to chase them and run behind them and that inspired me to write this story - this is from the book but it sums up how I feel:
“Up and down!
 Big and small!
 If they can do it!
 I can too!!”

This is so charming!
To finish, I asked if there was anything else she’d like to share?
'I would like to tell everyone not to give up on your dreams. There is a writer's soul inside all of you. I know to a certain point you all have felt an urge to write. Don't let anything hinder you, no matter what. Don't stop writing. Take out your pen and unleash your creativity. Who knows you can be our next bestseller. So what are you waiting for?'

I adore that! If you'd like to find out more about this inspirational author, please visit Jyothsna's links below:

Linktree :
Twitter: @JyothsnaF
Amazon author page:

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