Author Spotlight: Sita Singh
We are excited to feature author Sita Singh and her debut picture book BIRDS OF A FEATHER illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman (Philomel Books, March 2021). Enter to win a copy!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
Hi KidLit 411, I’m thrilled and honored to be here!
I was born and raised in India, and practiced architecture before we immigrated to the United States in 1999. In the U.S., I chose to become a homemaker and stayed busy raising three children in our multigenerational home. The creative person in me found absolute joy and satisfaction in helping with school projects and coming up with lunch ideas. However, once my kids were older, I felt the strong need to have a creative pursuit of my own.
I was never a writer but I was always a reader and grew up with a fondness for illustrated stories. I also remember listening to stories told by my parents and grandparents. Additionally, while mothering, a distinct lack of representation in children’s literature had caught my eye. The thought of filling that void with the stories I had to tell felt like a calling and it didn’t take me long to discover SCBWI and connect with the Kid Lit community. However, it took me a long time to learn the craft of writing picture books. And I’m still learning.
Congrats on your picture book debut, Birds of a Feather! Tell us about the story and what inspired you.
Thank you so much! Birds of a Feather is a story about Mo, the colorless peacock who learns to love himself in a jungle full of color. It is a story about finding strength in the things that make us different, and beauty in all its forms.
My childhood memories of watching peacocks and a lack of picture books with this majestic bird as a protagonist, is what provoked me to write a story with peacocks at the front and center of it. The story itself was inspired from my daughter’s experience of standing out in school because of her ethnicity. I wanted to write a story that empowers children to find strength in their differences.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
I’d say, it was something in between. I jumped into writing in 2012 without any knowledge about the craft, and initially, I wrote only in rhymes and my writing was all over the place. But when I discovered SCBWI and attended my first kid lit conference, I was left in awe of all the talent and resources the community had to offer. I clearly remember coming home with a zest to learn and connect. I wasted no time in participating in PiBoIdMo, 12 x12, Making Picture Book Magic, and Children’s Book Academy.
Soon, I felt confident enough to start seeking representation. Of course, I was wrong! I got rejection after rejection, but I kept learning and revising, and in 2017, my story won the Florida SCBWI Rising Kite award. With that, I soon landed an agent, and in 2019, we sold Birds Of A Feather, to be published in 2021. My road to publication wasn’t relatively long, but I wouldn’t call nine years, a short time either.
What projects are you working on now?
I have two picture books that I’m working on at the moment. They are inspired from my own childhood memories and I’m super excited about them both.
What advice would you give your younger self? Is this the same advice you'd give to aspiring authors?
Writing is hard and getting published is harder. I would say be patient and persistent. Another thing I would say is to put away your manuscripts for short periods of time. Letting your stories simmer for a while works for me. I always come back with a fresh perspective and the revision process becomes interesting, fun, and smooth. The last thing I’d tell my younger self and all aspiring authors is to write what comes from your heart!
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I love to sing, especially when I’m cooking and cleaning. I’m not the greatest singer but I love the poetry of old Bollywood songs and singing them while going about my day brings me joy.
Where can people find you online?
Thank you so much for having me on KidLit 411!
Sita Singh was born and raised in India, and moved to the United States in 1999. She currently lives in South Florida with her husband, three children, and an immensely cute and curious dog. An architect in the past, Sita now enjoys writing heartwarming picture books with a South Asian backdrop. When Sita isn’t reading or writing, she can be found trying new recipes in the kitchen, experimenting with food photography, walking with her dog, or movie marathoning with the family.
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