Author Spotlight: Sathya Achia
|Photo by Bhavin Misra
Nov. 4, 2022
We are excited to feature author Sathya Achia and her young adult novel, IN MY HANDS (Ravens and Roses Publishing LLC, August 8, 2022) Enter to win a signed copy, sticker, bookplate, and bookmark!
|Art by Emily’s World of Design
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for teens.
I was born and raised in Ontario, Canada, and spent many summers traveling with my family and visiting my grandparents who lived in a remote region in India called Kodagu.
Telling stories has always been my thing since I was able to scribble with crayons. As time went on, I missed seeing kids like me—of two worlds and cultures—in the stories I read, and I wanted to change that. I began writing stories of joy featuring my East meets West roots, where brown girls and boys could set off on magical quests, slay the beasts, and be their own heroes! In addition to writing for teens, I write for middle grade and picture book audiences.
Congrats on your debut YA novel, In My Hands! Tell us about the story and what inspired you.
Thanks so much—I appreciate the well wishes! In My Hands is the story of sixteen-year-old Chandra S. Chengappa, who, after the mysterious death of her mother, is forced to leave small-town Virginia for the jungles of India to find the mythical weapon of a goddess and face the monster intent on destroying her or she risks losing everything and everyone she's ever loved. It’s a story about belonging, dark family secrets, and learning to love the hard-to-love parts of ourselves fully and completely.
The story is a love letter to my grandparents (the greatest storytellers I’ve known!), and my South Indian Kodava culture. My novel was inspired by the summers I visited my grandparents’ home in India—a red-clay cottage surrounded by acres of coffee plantation and rainforest. My cousins, brother, and I adventured into the forest—there was nothing like it. We lived for the afternoons my grandfather would return from the fields and we’d gather around and listen to him tell stories about our ancestors or South Asian epic myths!
When it came to my novel, I imagined a teenage girl from the West who visits her parents’ homeland in the East and shows the world how fierce, yet vulnerable, she is in her mission to save the day.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
I’d say, a long and winding road. I’d started writing In My Hands way, way back—like a couple decades ago! I set it aside for a period and started honing the craft of picture books. I love writing those short, tight stories, but they are certainly challenging to write! I joined critique groups, attended workshops, and met with agents and editors. I queried those picture book manuscripts for several years. With each step, I was sparking more interest and received several encouraging champagne rejections. The journey was hard on the head and the heart! I decided I needed to take a break from querying, but I had to continue to write—it’s like breathing to me! So, I changed gears and fell back into my novel that became my debut.
With the passage of time, In My Hands changed significantly, and with the experience and skills I’d gained through the years, I sat down, and revamped my story. I gave myself a solid deadline and worked feverishly toward my endgame. I queried and queried and queried until eventually I found the right match—and the rest, as they say, is history! The publishing journey takes patience and perseverance—but I couldn’t let go because it was a childhood dream of mine and I wanted to see it through.
What are some of your favorite classic YA novels? Recent ones?
I adored Summer of Fear and Stranger with My Face (Lois Duncan), The Hunger Games (all) (Suzanne Collins), and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series (Ann Brashares). Oh, there are so very many new ones to recommend—there’s not room enough to name them all. But for a fun YA-fantasy adventure, I’d say The Bone Spindle (Leslie Vedder), for historical YA, Lioness of Punjab (Anita Jari Kharbanda), and rom-com, Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things (Maya Prasad).
What projects are you working on now?
I’m currently drafting a spooky MG, pitching several PB manuscripts, and outlining a couple YA projects!
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Find your writing tribe and your community. This has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve gained in this process of becoming an author and I believe it’s incredibly important to surround yourself with supportive fellow creatives! Nobody understands you the way your critique partners and fellow writers do!! They give feedback on your work; help navigate the query process as you reach out to agents and editors and are such incredible support through the publishing journey. They understand the sting of a hard pass from an agent or editor because they’re right there in the trenches with you. My writer friends and critique partners have been by my side when the going gets tough, and they’ve all been there to celebrate the milestones and victories, too!
What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
When not spending time inside a story, I can be found in the garden, tending to my lavender, sometimes even singing to them, hoping it will help them grow!
Where can people find you online?
My website: www.sathyaachia.com
IG and TikTok: @sathyaachiawrites
Sathya Achia was born and raised in Ontario, Canada, where she grew up devouring books and playing along the pebbly shores of Lake Huron, before moving to the United States. Sathya’s creative work is influenced by her South Indian Kodava culture. She grew up spending summers in the remote hills and lush jungles of the Western Ghats in India, where she learned the art of storytelling from her grandparents.
Sathya creates stories of adventure and discovery for picture book, middle grade, and young adult readers.
When not spinning stories, Sathya can be found trying a new yoga pose, exploring the great outdoors, traveling the world, or wrapped up in her greatest adventure of all: Motherhood.
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