I’m so pleased to have Neesha Meminger here, author of SHINE, COCONUT MOON, McElderry Books, coming out next month! Neesha has a beautiful web site which you can see HERE, and look what early reviews have said about her book:
Kirkus: "This straightforward and ultimately reassuring novel reads like an older Sikh version of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and will fill a niche in any school or public library looking to beef up their YA multicultural fiction offerings."
Publisher's Weekly: "Debut novelist Meminger raises complex questions of identity, but avoids moralizing or spelling out answers for readers, who will likely be hooked as Samar takes a second look at her relationships with her boyfriend, friends and family, while seeking a better understanding of herself."
Wow, doesn’t it sound like an amazing book?
I asked Neesha some questions and here are her answers:
Can you tell us about your book and how you came to write it?
I'm going to cheat a little and give you the jacket copy: Samar--a.k.a. Sam--is an Indian-American teenager whose mom has kept her away from her old-fashioned family. It's never bothered Sam, who is busy with school, friends, and a demanding boyfriend. But things change after 9/11. A guy in a turban shows up at Sam's house--and turns out to be her uncle. He wants to reconcile the family and teach Sam about her Sikh heritage. Sam is eager, but when boys attack her uncle, chanting "Go back home, Osama!," Sam realizes she could be in danger--and also discovers how dangerous ignorance is.
I wanted to explore mother-daughter relationships when I started writing SHINE, not only in terms of the generational rifts that are inevitable, but particularly when things like immigration, migration, and displacement enter into the mix. I especially wanted to explore the idea of a strong, intense bond between this mother and daughter when the father has been absent for pretty much all of Sam's life; and how that bond can alternately suffocate and resuscitate both mother and daughter.
What do you hope readers walk away thinking after they read your book?
I hope readers walk away loving the characters as much as I did while I was working on the novel, first and foremost :). But I also hope readers think about commonly held beliefs and how sometimes assumptions can hurt everyone -- that we all are, regardless of our social "identity" and where we are categorized, highly complex beings and we have far more in common than we're sometimes led to believe.
What's your path to published author been like?
I sometimes equate it with love. I was once told there are two kinds of love: the fast, fireworks, powerful, explosive kind that is hot and completely consumes you, then quickly dies; and the slow simmer kind that takes its time to heat up, but lasts a long time and is ultimately very, very satisfying and soul-nourishing. My writing career, so far, has been very much like the latter :).
As your publication date draws near, is there anything keeping you up at night?
The details. I keep worrying I'm going to miss something, forget something, leave something hanging. I try to keep the mantra going in my head "Enjoy this time, enjoy this time -- it only happens once." It's a real challenge, though.
We love to see writing spaces. Can you tell us about yours, and share a picture if you have one?
My writing space is at my desk, sandwiched between the kitchen and a window. It's a sanctuary of sorts for me, especially when I'm alone and there is quiet . . . blissful quiet.
Thanks, Neesha, and best of luck with your book!
~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career