Permission to be Their Full Selves

Suchi Sairam Author Interview

Dancing Deepa follows a little girl that loves to dance but is not sure if her unique cultural dance will be accepted at school. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Dancing Deepa was inspired by a composite of experiences – the need that many have felt to keep different parts of your life separate. Growing up in the 70s and 80s in Texas, I had my “Indian” life at home and my “American” life at school. I see many of my dance students feel the same way now, 30-40 years later. Dancing Deepa was an effort to help kids give themselves permission to be their full selves all the time, without the burden of keeping important aspects of their lives hidden from the other.

I loved the art in your book. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Vidya Vasudevan?

The collaboration with Vidya was an absolute delight. She connected with the premise of the book immediately, having her own experience growing up in the Indian diaspora, and now raising Indian-American children of her own. Early in the process, I shared some ideas I had on a few spreads, but also wanted to ensure that she had the space to flex her creativity, and she did! We had wonderful dialogue about what to feature throughout, and she created some absolute gems. For the cover art, I wanted to play on the idea of Deepa seeing herself in the mirror, both as an everyday Indian-American girl, and as a Bharatanatyam dancer; Vidya took that idea and ran with it. It was a true collaboration, and we are both excited to do it again sometime soon.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this children’s book?

There are a few key themes I wanted to explore. First, the idea of “dual life” that I mentioned earlier; this is something that a lot of people may not understand if that isn’t their lived experience. I also wanted to explore the theme of help; being in tune with how others may feel to extend a timely helping hand, and being willing to ask for help. The idea of risk taking was very important to me; that we can love to do something, want things and dream about them, but we also must be willing to take a risk and put ourselves out there. Last, circling back to the idea of leading a “dual life,” the idea that our assumptions about what others may think or feel may be a product of our own imagination.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The next book is in draft right now. I was fortunate to have a very fast turnaround on Dancing Deepa (about 4 months from mind map and rough draft to publication), so that may or may not be reproduced. But if all goes well, I’ll be able to share a new book in early 2023.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website

Deepa LOVES to dance. She studies a dance from India called Bharatanatyam that is like moving poetry! But since her dance is different from what her friends at school do, she isn’t sure if she should share it. Is there someone like Deepa in your class at school? What passion might you two share? Read to find out how you two are alike, how you are different, and how you could be friends to one another.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on September 2, 2022, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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