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Friday, March 3, 2017

An Interview with Varsha Bajaj, author of This Is Our Baby, Born Today

Varsha Bajaj is at The Hiding Spot today to chat about This is Our Baby, Born Today, her 2016 picture book.

Bajaj's sweet story paired with Eliza Wheeler's warm illustrations make this a perfect pick for baby showers and family storytime!

Your newest book, This Is Our Baby, Born Today, is celebratory look at new life and community. Can you share a bit about your choice to tell this particular story? 
In 2012 my oldest child was a senior in high school. I was asked to submit five pictures of him between birth and five years for a slide show that the school was putting together. I could have chosen three hundred. I loved the baby stage with my kids. The memories came flooding back and I started writing about those early years. 

After almost a year of writing without finding the heart of my story, one day I revisited the pictures. I was struck by how the child is the mother’s alone in the womb. Then the child is born and the circle of love grows with the presence of the father, the grandparents, friends and family. There is a celebration of new life. I knew then that I had found my story. Then came the task of making sure it translated to the page. 

Please tell me a little bit about your writing process. Do you begin with an outline, a bit of text, a character? 
My brainstorming or first draft phase is when I am exploring the character and my own psyche to try to discover the underlying theme of the story. I find that it guides me to finding the character and the arc of the story. Unfortunately, I don’t always realize what I am trying to say right away. 

Once I understand and am able to articulate my theme, I find that my character comes alive and the process gets easier. So I am both a plotter and a pantser. 

With picture books, it is very important for me to find those perfect few beginning words that guide the story. The first line is like a flashlight that shows me the way. 

My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book, author, or illustrator that has provided you with a hiding spot. 
A good book, movie, or TV show that speaks to my emotions is my personal hiding spot. 

I love the poetry of Robert Frost, Mary Oliver, Maya Angelou and Harivanshrai Bachchan. 

I love Beatrix Potter, Lucy Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Kate DiCamillo, Gary Schmidt, Jacqueline Woodson, Nora Ephron, Matt de la Pena… 
Inspiration comes in many forms. Share three people, places, or things that inspire your creativity. 
I am inspired by open spaces, where light streams in. My own backyard is my sanctuary. The sound of flowing water soothes me. A tall oak, a bird building its nest, a beautiful flower inspires me. I was once invited to write in an artsy studio space that was all concrete, without windows. I could not produce a single sentence that was worth keeping. 

What can your readers look forward to next? 
My next picture book is about animal home builders. It will be illustrated by Simona Mulazzani and published by Nancy Paulsen books. 

I am also working on a middle grade novel.

Thank you, Varsha!

You can find out more about This Is Our Baby, Born Today and purchase a copy here!


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