We're delighted to welcome the award-winning author of Artichoke Hearts and Jasmine Skies, Sita Brahmachari, as a guest blogger to kick off our chats about boundaries in Young Adult fiction. Sita talks about the the influence of her own childhood and the universal appeal of her stories. It really is a sumptuous delight.
|Childhood objects that influenced Jasmine Skies|
When I wrote Artichoke Hearts, I simply set out to write the story as seen through the eyes of Mira my twelve year old protagonist. As I was writing I didn't think that I was necessarily writing a story for young people. I simply thought I wanted to tell a story that explored the complex layers of the human heart. I was keen to explore, through a young girl's eyes, a rites of passage moment (the whole books spans only one month).
Having worked with young people of this transitional teen age all my life I find as a storyteller that they sit in a moment that is between childhood and adult worlds and imaginations. I find it freeing to explore the dream worlds of my teenage characters and their vivid imaginations, and how these sit alongside the daily gritty reality of my character's lives.
I draw strongly on ideas that dominated my own thoughts in childhood, and those thoughts still play around my mind today. Therefore, an exploration of loss and love and identity is just as potent to me now as it was when I was a child. I have had many adults, parents and grandparents comment on how they feel that they have enjoyed the story just as much as their children. People sometimes suggest that they read the story as adults, bringing a different perception to the work.
|Jasmine Skies and Artichoke Hearts|
Artichoke Hearts has been read by Bereavement Counsellors and Nurses and Doctors in hospices, grandparents and grandchildren. I have characters across the generations in both of my stories, because I try to create whole and inter-connected worlds and the stories belong in different ways to each generation.
Jasmine Skies has only recently been published but I am already having adults contact me to say how much they are enjoying it; people who have travelled around India, adults who remember the first time their eyes were opened onto a wider world. The first time we travelled alone without our families and felt a sense of vulnerability and started to question who we are.
The themes and ideas in Jasmine Skies are clearly relevant to adults as we see them repeated in adult novels: themes of tracing your history, needing to know your background, exploring family secrets... I think as adults we all remember these rites of passage times of our lives. As a 46 year old it is refreshing to revisit this teenage voice and world, where everything was before you. I think perhaps it might also be the reason why adults enjoy reading my work.
Thank you, Sita!
Artichoke Hearts won the Waterstones Children's Book Award 2011. You can find out more about Sita Brahmachari on her blog and on My Kinda Book.