Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fabulous New Fiction: 2k10 Debut Author Swati Avasthi

March is a huge launch month! Huge in every sense - many new books, and also many books for which I see great acclaim. I feel immensely proud that so many of these great books are from fellow 2k10 authors, which includes my newest interviewee, Swati Avasthi discussing her debut SPLIT.

After you read the interview here you could check out Swati's Write on Radio interview, archived at

Congratulations, Swati, on the publication of your novel, SPLIT. I know it's already getting terrific reviews. Can you tell us a bit about the story and what inspired it?

Thanks, Janet. I coordinated a domestic violence legal clinic for three years. Women and men would come in seeking orders of protection. Once, I was interviewing a woman while her two kids were in the room. As the incident became increasingly brutal, I asked her if she'd like someone to look after her kids. She told me they had seen the whole thing anyway. It was a hard moment for me, sitting across from these two kids and thinking about how their world was being shaped by what they had seen, that they were absorbing these horrible lessons without really being aware of it. As kids, we accept the world as it is shown to us. It haunted me, and my concern turned into a story eventually.

How long have you been writing for children/teens? Have you written other books or is this your first effort?

This is my first effort for teens. I've loved reading YA for so many years now and I think that influenced my decision to write for teens. I have one other novel, a fantasy novel, that will live inside a drawer all its life. It's the novel I learned on.

Can you describe your path to the publication of SPLIT?

Oh, it was heavenly really. I cold queried a few agents and my agent, Rosemary Stimola (aka my fairy godmother) requested the full manuscript in less than 24 hours. In a week, she asked for a few revisions. I had completed six drafts of SPLIT at that point, with 2 professional writers giving me feedback on the ms. And Rosemary still found a few things to make it better, so once I was finished with the revisions, (about a month), I became quite interested in working with her. I had around 3 or 4 full manuscripts under consideration when she offered. When I interviewed her, she impressed me as personable, ethical, and savvy. So I happily signed with her. A month later, SPLIT was sold at auction as the first book of two-book contract with Knopf. I was looking down from Cloud Nine for quite a while.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Read craft books including On Writing by Stephen King. Write a lot. Write some more. And revise, revise, revise.

Can you tell us something about your personal life – inspirations, plans for the future, goals, etc.?

Right now, I am loving my life. I have a wonderful husband, two kids, two dogs and the job of my dreams. I'm living in a city I love. What more could I ask for? So, I'm just hoping to write more, to keep teaching (maybe even get a tenure-track job), and try to give back.

I love that sentiment. Do you have any new writing ventures underway?

My second YA novel, BIDDEN (Knopf, 2011) is about what happens to two friends in the wake of a shooting. Corey, Holly, and Savitri are looking forward to graduation and then a summer of comic book reading and free running. But a shooting changes everything. Told in alternating points of view and with a graphic component, BIDDEN is about how far we will stretch to save our friends.

Do you have a website where readers can learn more about SPLIT?

Please visit me at Or follow me at
You can also watch the trailer! :

Thanks, Swati!

photo credit: Ann Marsden

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