SCBWI

Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Equity and Inclusion Member Spotlight Interview, June 2021 – Harshita Jerath, PB Author

Photo Credit: https://theresagreenphotography.com/

Interviewed by Cynthia Harmony

Meet Harshita Jerath
– author of the Picture Book THE LEAPING LADDOO coming March 2022.

Bio: 

Harshita Jerath writes stories that seek to entertain children. She shares her views about everyday life on her blog, https://ipenlife.com/. Her debut picture book, THE LEAPING LADDOO, illustrated by Kamala Nair, will be published by Albert Whitman in March 2022. 

Harshita is represented by Beth Marshea of Ladderbird Literary Agency.

She currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband and two boys aged 10 and 12. Find out about her upcoming books at http://harshitajerath.com/.

Hi Harshita, it’s so nice to connect with you again. Fun fact, Harshita and I used to be in a diverse critique group that came together through the 12×12 group! Thank you for being our second SCBWI-AZ Equity and Inclusion Member Spotlight! 

Thank you, Cynthia, for hosting me on Spotlight. Much appreciated.

Can you tell us how long have you been a member of SCBWI-AZ and what’s your favorite part about your membership?

I’ve been a member of SCBWI for the last five years.

First and foremost, the SCBWI community gave me a sense of belonging which is very important as writing is a solitary job. It has helped me collaborate with the Kidlit community and form deeper connections. And then, the monthly mingles of my local chapter have provided me with a welcoming platform to connect, learn and grow together with other diverse talents.

Can you share the story behind your upcoming book? 

The story idea of THE LEAPING LADDOO was born while making a large laddoo (pronounced as luh-DOO), a round Indian dessert, for my son’s birthday. And, I thought, what if the laddoo slips from my hand and starts sprinting like the Gingerbread Man? 

And before the idea could fade, I promptly wrote it on my kitchen notepad. From there, the story began to sculpt just like the laddoo in my hand.

Once the story was ripe, I queried many agents and participated in Twitter pitches before finding my agent through #DVPIT. 

What excites you more about your upcoming release? 

The thought that my book would touch lives and bring smiles makes me tingle.

And as this is my debut I’m looking forward to holding the physical book in my hand, flipping through the pages and savoring the new book’s smell of accomplishment. I’ve always wanted to be an author, and this book is the beginning.

What is the message you want to share with this particular project?

I feel storytelling is one of the best ways to teach empathy towards other cultures. With my picture book, THE LEAPING LADDOO, I seek to inspire curiosity in children about Indian culture and also encourage them to have fun with another language, in this case, Hindi. 

And for kids with an Indian background, I hope they see themselves represented and that the book offers them the joy of a familiar comfort as they turn the pages.

It sounds like a wonderful and fun story. Are there any other specific aspects of your culture/heritage included in the characters or setting that are relevant to your story? 

Yes, the different elements of the story reflect my experiences of being raised in India. Mostly, dunking cookies into my mom’s hot chai, dancing at weddings, and watching cows sitting leisurely on the streets. I also added a Hindi tongue twister that I used to recite with my siblings.

Are you working on something new that you can share with us?

I have a few projects at different stages. There’s a picture book about persistence and grit. Then there is an early reader, an adventure series about a pet dog and its owner. And a chapter book about a young girl in a multigenerational family.

What advice can you give to other marginalized writers/illustrators? 

I’m proof that dreams come true. Write from your heart and persist, and your story will find a good home. And staying surrounded by positive people and having a supportive yet honest critique group(s) will help you persist. 

Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your path to publication. Congratulations on your debut, we’ll keep our eyes peeled for it! 

Website: http://harshitajerath.com/

Instagram: @harshitajerath

Twitter: @hjerath