Author Spotlight: Maya Prasad
We're excited to feature author Maya Prasad and her debut young adult novel, DRIZZLE, DREAMS, AND LOVESTRUCK THINGS (Disney-Hyperion), out on Oct. 18. Enter to win a copy!
|art by Chaaya Prabhat; design: Marci Senders
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for teens.
I’m an Indian-American author, a former software engineer, and a resident of the Pacific Northwest. I love hiking, canoeing, and raising my budding bookworm kiddo. Like many BIPOC authors, I got into writing because I wanted to create the representation I longed to see when I was growing up. I’ve always been drawn to coming-of-age stories, but I especially love seeing brown kids falling in love, getting into adventures, and breaking stereotypes. There are so many stories for us to tell, each of them unique and beautiful, and I hope we keep expanding our footprint.
Congrats on your debut YA novel, Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things! Tell us about the story and what inspired you.
Thank you! Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things is story of the four Singh sisters over four seasons as they navigate new passions, breathtaking kisses, and the bustle of their father’s cozy cliffside inn. It takes place in the drizzly and dreamy Pacific Northwest, and is full of seasonal vibes and luscious food descriptions. DDLT also has a unique structure, where each sister’s POV takes place in a different season, but the family’s story as a whole is present throughout. It celebrates the love all around us and has been described as a “warm hug of a book.”
It was inspired by my own siblings, my current home in the Pacific Northwest, my visits to Orcas Island in the San Juans, and my desire to create a work of joyful representation.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
It’s definitely been a long and winding one! I started writing over a decade ago, and along the way, I landed my first agent, went on submission with a YA sci-fi that never sold, realized that my first agent wasn’t the right fit, received a mentorship through We Need Diverse Books, published some short stories, and signed with my current agent. My YA debut Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things was my fourth completed manuscript.
What projects are next for you?
I’m working on the sequel to Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things! While the first book takes place over four seasons in the course of a year, the second book is packed into just one wild, windy day. I enjoy experimenting with unique structures, so it was a lot of fun to take on the challenge of fitting big emotions and epiphanies in such a short period.
I also have an upcoming kids’ STEM chapter book series to be published by Simon & Schuster/Aladdin in summer 2023. The first book is Sejal Sinha Battles Superstorms, where an Indian American girl uses science and her trusty cardboard box to fly into the eye of a hurricane to save her family’s Diwali celebration.
Did you have an inspiration board, or music playlist, for this novel? If so, can you share it?
If you want to feel like you’re actually visiting the Songbird Inn—the only home the Singh sisters have ever really known—check out the album Place by Canadian indie folk band West My Friend. They’re from Victoria, BC which is just across the border from where DDLT takes place, also on the Salish Sea. Setting is a huge part of DDLT, and as the album title indicates, there’s a very strong sense of place in the music and lyrics. I always feel particularly whisked away when listening to the song “Home by the Sea.”
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
The basics are: read a lot, write a lot, get feedback, repeat. Receiving critique is hard, but be open to learning. Even if you don’t agree with someone’s suggestion, consider whether there’s an underlying issue that you could resolve another way.
Sometimes, life gets in the way of writing. That’s okay—let yourself live, too. I needed that advice in particular when I had a baby and was too exhausted to write. The words were there for me when I was ready. Believe in that.
Finally, revel in craft. Celebrate the small achievements. Even though we all want validation (and that’s natural), you have to make the most of the journey, too.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
When people meet me, they often assume that I was born in the US because I don’t have an Indian accent and my mannerisms may seem “American.” I was actually born in India and immigrated to the US when I was four years old. Hindi was my first language and I was initially embarrassed to speak English at school because I was new to it. However, I practiced a bit too much to improve, and now I’m not as good at Hindi. It makes me a little sad that in my attempts to fit in, I lost something of myself in the process, but I’ve also come to recognize the exquisite beauty of being a hyphenated American. Diaspora kids, please know: You are enough. You don’t need to be more Indian or more American. You’re perfect wherever you land.
Where can people find you online?
Maya Prasad is a South Asian American author, a Caltech graduate, and a former software engineer. She currently resides in the Pacific Northwest, where she enjoys hiking, canoeing, and raising her budding bookworm kiddo. DRIZZLE, DREAMS, AND LOVESTRUCK THINGS is her debut YA novel.