Savita Kalhan was born in her grandparent’s home in a small village in the north of India. Now, she’s in North London, with a view of the woods, a stone’s throw from her allotment where she fight a daily battle against the onslaught of an army of slugs and wrestle with plotlines, and the tennis club where she slugs a few balls, and her writing shed at the bottom of the garden where she writes.
Kalhan’s latest novel, That Asian Kid, is a stunner. It features a totally gripping story-line as her protagonist faces a huge dilemma involving incriminating video evidence, a racist teacher and social media. Intrigued?!
Thanks for stopping by Savita!
Tell us about you in 25 words or less.
I love writing stories for teenagers and young adults. I grow super-hot chillies and veg on my allotment. In my free time I play tennis!
Your YA novel, That Asian Kid, has just been published. Can you tell us a little bit about how it came to be?
This book was in my mind for a long time. I’ve been that Asian kid, and I know lots of kids who have been that kid too. I sat down to write it one April when my son was revising for his A Levels. We sat in the kitchen together – he revised and I wrote. When he finished his last exam in June, I wrote THE END.
Ok, here’s a challenge… can you sum up your book in five words? [runs and hides!]
Okay, that is almost impossible! Do the right thing, Jeevan!
What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day is different. When I’m writing my routine includes going to my allotment where ideas percolate, and to the gym where I run and mull over plot. Then four or five hours of writing happens – hopefully. The next day I reread what I’ve written, do some light editing before I immerse myself in writing the next chapter. Some days I’m visiting schools, which I love and is great fun. I’m asked to do talks on being a writer, my books, my inspirations. Or I’m running creative workshops – so many students write the most amazing stories!
What makes you happy?
Swimming in the Mediterranean and lying in the sunshine on the beach with a good book – this makes me very happy! Harvesting fruit and vegetables from my allotment – and eating them!
What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?
That’s a hard one – there are many books on my ever-growing pile of books! I’ve just read Where the River Runs Gold by Sita Brahmachari, and loved it. Other books on my TBR are Cross Fire by Malorie Blackman, Gloves Off by Louisa Reid, and The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood- Hargrave.
I’m looking forward to reading but not out yet are: Elizabeth Acevedo’s new book, With the Fire on High, and Nizrana Farook’s MG title The Girl Who Stole an Elephant.
What’s your worst habit?
Saying yes to too many things and then panicking about how I’m going to fit them all in – and then procrastinating!
Your favourite word(s) and why
Yikes, such tough questions! I love the word serendipity. It means when things happen by chance but in a beneficial way or in a happy way. There have been many occasions where serendipitous events have happened to me – and it is the nicest thing. People often think these chance coincidences don’t happen much in real life, but they do. They feature in my books too – both in The Girl in the Broken Mirror and in That Asian Kid.
What are your top tips for budding writers?
Read a lot and read widely are my top tips! Finding your voice, the genre, the type of writing that plays to your strengths is one of the hardest things and I think being a huge reader and reading a wide range of books helped me enormously.
Can you give us a glimpse / hint at your current WIP? (I can bribe you with cake!)
Bribe happily accepted! Although I can’t say too much about my current WIPs – yes, there are two of them – as I hate to jinx myself! There is a YA title, which is dark and gritty (of course!), and the protagonist is a girl who falls in with a gang of teens and faces challenges that stretch her resolve to the limit. The other is a younger teen book, where the main character is a boy who makes a discovery that rocks his foundations to the core. I really can’t say anymore than that at the moment!
Just for fun
Tea or coffee? Tea, always.
Paper books or e-books? Has to be paper books for me.
Cake or chocolate? Chocolate – the darker the better.
Write or type? I do both!
Poetry or prose? I love poetry, but for me it’s prose.
Hot or cold? Definitely hot!