Q: First tell us something about yourself?
I immigrated from India to the United States as a baby with my parents. Formative years growing up in Texas in the 1970s and 80s, college years in Massachusetts, adult years in Texas and Minnesota, deep familial and cultural roots in India, and international travel shape my world view and values.
I am multi-passionate, chronically curious and an accidental author. The arts, specifically dance and music, have been my life’s breath for decades. Alongside my artistic journey, I’ve had the almost 3 decades of professional experiences in several areas, including engineering, marketing, product development, executive leadership and entrepreneurial ventures.
I now focus my time exclusively on the arts and adjacencies. My dance studio Kala Vandanam celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2022. Sharing dance with my students is one of my greatest joys. I love sharing the beauty of dance and music with audiences in intimate venues. Dialogue about the power and joy of art in our lives energizes me.
As a dance and music artist, entrepreneur and business professional with a range of diverse experiences, I enjoy drawing on different disciplines to create unique experiences. I view art as a vehicle for communication, internal reflection, and personal development.
Q: How and when did your journey start as a writer?
For years, I didn’t consider myself a writer. I wrote for only professional requirements, never for self-expression or pleasure. I started writing my first book, Dancing Deepa, in February 2022. Through hard work, good fortune and great collaborators, I self-published it in June 2022. I have continued my writing journey with initial work for more books in the series, as well as focused “atomic essay” writing that I publish daily to social media for personal practice. It has been a transformative experience thus far, and I look forward to the onward journey.
Q: When did you write your first story? Is it published or not?
I suspect I wrote my first stories when I was in elementary school. But none of those have been published. I connected more with expression through dance and music compared to writing. I rediscovered expression through writing in 2022, and it has been wonderful.
Q: Tell us something more about your books?
Dancing Deepa tells the story of a young girl named Deepa who loves to dance, but is unsure about sharing it with her school friends because it is different from what she sees around her. What will others think? Should she take a risk? Does she ask for help? Dancing Deepa explores these ideas with the frames of culture, representation and inclusivity.
Q: Why do you choose kids as your reader? is there any specific reason?
Dancing Deepa was inspired by a conversation with one of my adult dance students. She was lamenting that there weren’t any child-friendly books about Indian art forms she could share with her young daughter. This thought kept swirling around in my mind. One day, I finally told myself, “Why not you, and why not now?” This is how Dancing Deepa came to be.
I strongly believe children should see themselves in books they read and in the world around them. I wrote Dancing Deepa to amplify my dance students’ experiences. More than anything, I want the book to encourage every young person out there to share their interests and gifts with the world around them.
Q: How did these stories and characters come to your mind?
Though Dancing Deepa is not directly autobiographical, it is a composite of experiences that I’ve faced or been witness to. Growing up as an immigrant child, I led an “American” life at school and an “Indian” life at home. I have no regrets about this. I was still fully enriched by that experience. However, I believe kids nowadays should be able to more comfortably show up with ALL of the facets that feed into their experience, and not feel the need to hide one from another.
Q: Do you want to leave any message for your readers?
My greatest wish for you is to show up in the world as your full self – every day, all the time. The world needs your passion, talents and point of view!