Interesting Intersections Welcomes Anita Amin!
Updated: Feb 1, 2022
Anita is the author of Raja's Pet Camel as well as numerous chapter books and leveled readers. I cannot wait for all of you to get to know her!
Can you share a picture of your writing space with us?
This is at my dining room table. The notebook was a gift from my niece. I love it because it has tabs so it keeps my writing thoughts organized. I recycled one of my old Christmas card boxes into a pen box. I love writing with colorful gel pens but was always losing them until I started storing them in this box.
I love your journal so much!! Why is this place great for your creativity?
My writing space is mobile. I’m super claustrophobic, so you’ll usually find me in a sunny, wide-open space –at home, in a park, on the beach, wherever my mood takes me. Just before the release of Raja’s Pet Camel (Cardinal Rule Press, October 2020, illustrated by Parwinder Singh), I set up my launch headquarters in the dining room. It’s the brightest room in the house, with a great view outside and lots of table space to spread all of my stuff out.
Tell us a bit about yourself and why you became a writer.
I’m a mom of twin 10-year-olds, wife to a wonderful husband for almost 22 years, daughter of parents from India, oldest sister, and a former IT business consultant.
After a long detour in IT and a short detour in molecular genetics, I finally made it back to one of my soul purposes – writing. I started out by submitting to children’s magazines and still remember that awesome feeling when I got my first acceptance from Highlights magazine 4 years later – getting over that hurdle had felt impossible and I had actually given up for a year before that. About 4 years ago, I started writing picture books, then later chapter books, and now I’m learning more about middle-grade books.
Mainly, I became a writer because I love to write. There’s something so satisfying about creating a whole new world and watching my characters grow. It’s a secret world that I get to be a part of.
It’s nice to be able to share about my culture and educational background too. I sometimes read my first picture book, RAJA’S PET CAMEL (Cardinal Rule Press, Oct 2020, illus. Parwinder Singh), to students and love seeing the light in their eyes when they ask me questions and learn something new.
Molecular Genetics? Wow! I...um...took chemistry in 11th grade. It kicked my butt. Now, we’re dying to know more about you and, if you are willing to share, your intersections.
Intersection is a new term for me! I admit I had to look it up. So, thank you for that – I just learned something new! My intersections are female, South Asian Indian-American, and though I’m not all that religious, I grew up as a Jain. I often felt these intersections during my childhood in North Carolina as one of the only kids of Indian origin in my neighborhood and schools and as one of a handful of female engineers in graduate school and at work.
So many beautiful intersections! May I ask if the plot of your current book or your main character mirrors you in any way?
All of my books mirror me or my family in some way. Like many writers, my experiences often inspire my story ideas. RAJA’S PET CAMEL was inspired by my childhood trips to India, and the main character is a combination of how I imagined my father as a little boy growing up in the Indian desert and my son, who loves animals.
My books, including some new ones I’m working on, often focus on cross-cultural intergenerational relationships. My grandparents lived in India, so I didn’t get to see them often. There were also language, cultural, and distance barriers. Writing is my way of understanding my heritage better and also honoring my parents and grandparents.
My hobbies (cycling, bird-watching, traveling) have found a place in some of my works in progress too.
Bird-watching is so relaxing! Work-for-hire sounds less relaxing. How did you get involved in writing work-for-hire writing? Is it easier or harder?
I found my first work-for-hire opportunities through social media postings and writing organizations, such as 12 x 12. Sometimes, editors at education publishers will tweet that they are looking for writers with specific backgrounds. (Otherwise, interested writers can find guidelines on publisher websites.) After applying, if my writing samples passed, I heard back within a month from some publishers, while others took more than a year. (It depends on the projects they have in their queue and how many writers they need. Most of the projects I had early on were direct matches with my education, work experience, or culture.)
Work-for-hire is a different process, so I think in some ways it’s harder and in other ways, easier. The work-for-hire books I’ve written have all been for the education market, so they were required to be written at specific reading levels and within certain word counts. They often have tight deadlines, usually a one-month turnaround time which is not a lot of time to research, outline, write, and level the text. It did teach me to write tighter and quicker though. The marketing is easier too – authors are rarely expected to promote their work-for-hire books.
To start, my editors usually give me a theme, level, and word count. For instance, for my first project, I was asked to write a heart-tugging story. So, I came up with THE LEGACY OF RASHMI BAZAAR (Teacher Created Materials, Oct 2019), which is set in the United States in an Indian grocery store, where the main character interacts with different customers and learns more about herself and the sacrifices her parents made when moving to a new country. After I’m given the theme, I usually research and write up an outline. Once the editor approves the outline, I write the book.
On the flip side, I think there is more creative leeway when pursuing my own passion projects for the trade market, but publication options feel a lot more nebulous. Publication of a work-for-hire book is not definite either – a project could be canceled or a manuscript rejected – but the chances for publication are usually pretty good, since you’re already working with an editor. I’ve completed 30+ work-for-hire books and the only issue I’ve had so far is that while they have all been accepted and the projects complete, a handful have been delayed for publication due to COVID.
Uggggh. Covid. But so many congratulations on your 30+ work-for-hire books! Any new books coming out soon? Where can readers find you?
I love connecting with readers! They can contact me through my website www.AnitaAminBooks.com or find me on social media on Twitter or Instagram (@AnitaAminKidLit). I have numerous nonfiction STEM books for grades K-4 coming out in 2022 and 2023.
Thank you so much, Anita, for stopping by the blog! Want to win a book by Anita? I'm giving away her newest The Mary Celeste Ghost Ship as well as Raja's Pet Camel.
"In 1872, the Mary Celeste merchant ship set sail from New York, bound for Italy. About a month later, it was spotted adrift in the ocean. The crew had vanished. The ship's charts were found scattered, and crew members' belongings were still onboard. The lifeboat was missing. What happened to the crew? Explore the theories behind the crew's disappearance and why it has become one of history's greatest mysteries."
Empathy and perseverance take center stage in this sweet picture book about a boy’s love for his (unusual) pet. With illustrations that detail the bright colors of India and the Thar Desert, Raja’s Pet Camel by Anita Nahta Amin carries the key message of perseverance, tradition and love supported by the many advocates of positive parenting solutions. It'll sit comfortably on your shelf alongside other books that focus on overcoming obstacles and focusing on hope in the name of love, like the work of Gaia Cornwall (Jabari Jumps) and Adir Levy (What Should Danny Do?).
One lucky winner by random drawing--U.S. only please--will win both of these fabulous books! Simply comment down below, tweet about the giveaway, or like the post pinned to my Twitter page. Or like or comment on Instagram (still figuring the gram out). Easy! The winner will be notified on January 31st. **********CONGRATULATIONS TO MICHELLE WHO WON BOTH BOOKS!!!!!! CONTACTING YOU!***********