3 S.R. Johannes: Day 2: Mitali Perkins, author of Bamboo People

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Day 2: Mitali Perkins, author of Bamboo People

Winner of the new hardcover for Cory Doctorow's recently released of For the Win! is ....

Tricia OBrien!

Congrads Tricia! Email me your address at sjohannes@bilaninc.com. June prizes will not be shipped until the end of the month)

Mitali Perkins, author of Bamboo People, on Twitter Book Parties and Book Promotion

Hi Mitali, thanks for stopping by today with a copy of your book. Tell us about yourself and your books.

I was born in Kolkata, India and immigrated at age seven to the States with my family. My books for young readers include Monsoon Summer, Rickshaw Girl, Secret Keeper, and the First Daughter books, and I speak frequently about the transforming power of stories as well as about growing up between cultures. I live in Newton, Massachusetts with my husband, sons, and Labrador retrievers.

My newest book, Bamboo People, releases July 2010.

Chiko isn’t a fighter by nature. He’s a book-loving Burmese boy whose father, a doctor, is in prison for resisting the government. Tu Reh, on the other hand, wants to fight for freedom after watching Burmese soldiers destroy his Karenni family's home and bamboo fields. This coming-of-age novel takes place against the political and military backdrop of modern-day Burma. Narrated by two fifteen-year-old boys on opposing sides of the conflict between the Burmese government and the Karenni, one of the many ethnic minorities in Burma, Bamboo People explores the nature of violence, power, and prejudice.

I know you founded the Twitter Book Parties that are really taking off on Twitter. Can you explain what they are and how they work?

The release of a new book is something to celebrate, right? But these days the cheering seems to rely heavily on a single voice—the author’s. How can we share our good news without feeling like we’re boasting? Twitter Book Birthday Parties seemed like the perfect way to integrate several free new media tools and share the joy of announcing an individual’s publication news to the wider community.

To sign up, an author or illustrator of a newly releasing traditionally published children’s or YA book joins Twitter, follows @bookbday (aka, me), and sends me a direct message on Twitter in a specified format. He or she also agrees to tweet the other book parties, either manually or automatically, using Twitterfeed (for instructions, visit the web site Any Twitter user can sign up to auto-party; you don’t need to be an author or illustrator to celebrate. Using Blogger’s ability to schedule posts, I periodically add brief announcements that include the book’s title, the author’s Twitter handle, the term “#bookbday,” with a link leading to the book on IndieBoundor the author’s website if a link to an independent bookseller is included.

Blogger automatically posts the announcement on the publication date, pouring the RSS feed into the Twitter streams of 150-plus authors, bloggers, booksellers, and other supporters. You can track the “party” by clicking on “#bookbday.” We send hundreds of visitors to IndieBound, and the announcement, we hope, gets the news out to the circles around each party goer.

I love the book Twitter parties because it reminds when books are coming out. It's hard to keep track of all of them :) You've become known in the writing community as a wonderful writer who talks about books (and life) between cultures. How did this niche start? Was it conscious or did it evolve?

Aw, that’s nice. A bit of both, I guess. It’s natural to blog the stuff I’m thinking. And the stuff I think is shaped by my childhood experience of growing up on the margins as an immigrant to the States. But since I’m in charge of my own blog, the content evolves along with my interests.

Your website, FireEscape, provides a great resource to anybody interested in books that feature the immigrant experience. What inspired you to focus on this and why is it needed?

I started with that vision because of my childhood experiences, but the Fire Escape is now a place (I hope) where we can safely talk about many (sometimes controversial) topics related to race, culture, children who are marginalized in one way or another, and books.

I know you are very into social networking. What are a few creative things you have done to promote your books?

For Bamboo People, launching 7/1/10 from Charlesbridge, I’ve set up a separate website. I’m also experimenting with a targeted Facebook ad that shows up when people indicate an interest in Burma. I also helped Grace Lin launch her book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, and here’s the package we concocted for her online book launch.

I know you speak frequently at various conferences about this subject. What other marketing advice do you have for authors/writers?

Use your writing skills to showcase your voice and vision via social media. I have twitter, blogs, Facebook, and websites—these are all tools our writer predecessors would have loved to use to get the word out about their books. Learn to use them well and you’ll save time and money, as well as get your books into the hands and hearts of young readers.

Thanks Mitali!

Thanks Shelli!

To win a copy of Bamboo People (that is NOT even out yet!), tell me what is another multi-cultural book that you have read and loved.


jpetroroy said...

I adored Grace Lin's Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

Lacey J Edwards said...

I got a copy form the author breakfast at BEA, so please do not enter me in the contest. I just wanted to say I am excited about reading BAMBOO PEOPLE and Mitali's speech at BEA was very inspiring!
And G-d bless Trekkies!

Nicole said...

Probably Foreigner by Nahid Rachlin.

Maggie Desmond-O'Brien said...

I wish I could have seen you at BEA, Mitali! =) A multicultural book I loved was...um, lots! Probably Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier or The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

Janet Johnson said...

Sounds great! Wild Swans by Jung Change. It takes place in China over 3 generations of women. Horrified and mesmerized by their strength despite all they went through.

Janet Lee Carey said...

I'm excited about the theme of Mitali's book. don't need to do the contest. Just wanted to stop by and root for Bamboo People. Can't wait to read it.

Hilary Wagner said...

Awesome interview! I love twitter book parties! I wish I could have seen Mitali speak at BEA :)

xoxo -- Hilary

Ann Marie Wraight said...

Wild Swans has just been mentioned so I'll go for

THE KITE RUNNER by KHALED Hosseini for the brilliant portrayal of life in Afghanistan in the 70's and later.

Adam Heine said...

I know most of Life of Pi is one man on a lifeboat, but the beginning (the multicultural part) was fascinating.

This sounds like a very cool book. I'm putting it on my list in case I don't win :-)

Riv Re said...

I don't know if you'll consider this multi-cultural, but I read "She's So Money" by Cherry Cheva, and it was awesome :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the great interview Mitali. Your tweet book parties sound awesome. I've always had a soft spot for India. I met my husband there.

I loved Grace Lin's Where the Mountain Meets the Moon & Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon.

Anonymous said...

Gosh. I feel so uncultured now. I know I've read multi-cultured books. Just can't think of any now. I'll have to go to the library and find one. Maybe Kite Runner. Heard grat things about that one.

Stephen Tremp

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Oh my goodness, I won! Thank you. Sorry, I haven't been blogging most of today so just found this. Congratulations to Mitali for Bamboo People (But don't enter me since I just won!)

Gail said...

Can't think of any children's books offhand, but I did love A Thousand Splendid Suns by Hosseini.

Amy-Baskin.blogspot.com said...

Great interview, Shelli and Mitali! Thanks for the contest.
I just read Mitali's SECRET KEEPER and MONSOON SUMMER. They were both excellent and I can't wait for BAMBOO PEOPLE.

Another multicultural book I'd like to recommend is WHAT YOU CALL WINTER, a collection of interwoven stories by Nalini Jones. Nalini writes of an Indian family from a Catholic neighborhood in Mumbai. While some stay put, others leave for foreign lands. She focuses on the successes and failures of family connection.

Niki Smith said...

I've been looking forward to reading BAMBOO PEOPLE! Definitely picking it up when it comes out.

Another great multicultural book is THE PHOTOGRAPHER.