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Three Authors Discuss How Identity and Community Inspire Their Writing

For Immediate Release

Contact: Doug Coe, Executive Director, RiverArts

(914) 412-5103

[email protected]

RIVERARTS® presents Three Authors Discuss How Identity and Community Inspire Their Writing

HASTINGS-ON HUDSON and DOBBS FERRY, NY: Why do writers choose the subject matter they do and how do those ideas becomes stories? Three award winning young adult authors, Sheela Chari, Sayantani DasGupta, and Veera Hiranandani, along with moderator and fellow author, Jimin Han, discuss how their personal cultural backgrounds have influenced their writing process.

For these authors growing up, it was often difficult to find characters and stories which reflected their individual Asian identities. They have all used their own perspectives and backgrounds as an opportunity to fill in those empty spaces and diversify the literary landscape.

Other topics include why they enjoy writing for young people, where they find inspiration, and how being part of the same writing group for many years has provided needed support.


A Conversation with Sheela Chari, Sayantani DasGupta, and Veera Hiranandani moderated by fellow author Jimin Han.

 Sunday, February 10, 2:00 PM

 Dobbs Ferry Library

55 Main Street

Dobbs Ferry, NY

 Seating Limited. Tickets: $10 in advance; $15 at the door [if remaining]; $5 kids riverarts.org/authors

 About the Authors

Sheela Chari [Scarsdale] is the author of Finding Mighty, a Junior Library Guild Selection and Amazon Best Book of the Month selection; and Vanished, an APALA Children’s Literature Honor Book, Edgar finalist for best juvenile mystery, and Al’s Book Club Pick on the Today Show. Part of Finding Mighty is set in the Village of Dobbs Ferry. She teaches creative writing at Mercy College and lives with her family in New York. Visit her online at www.sheelachari.com.

“As an Indian-American author, it’s important to write about both where I’m from and where I live now. We may come from different cultural backgrounds, but we share the cities and spaces where we live, and this is what makes us uniquely American.”

Originally trained in pediatrics and public health, Dr. Sayantani DasGupta [Nyack] now teaches at the Graduate Program in Narrative Medicine, the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, all at Columbia University. She is the author of the Bengali folktale and string theory inspired middle grade fantasy series, Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond, from Scholastic, (The Serpent’s Secret, 2018; Game of Stars, 2019; The Chaos Curse, 2020). More about her work is available at sayantanidasgupta.com and she can be followed on twitter @sayantani16 or on instagram @princesskiranmala.

“Who is allowed to envision themselves into the future? Who is allowed not just to survive, but thrive? What does a future world welcoming of diverse experiences and identities look like? Regardless of genre, these questions are ultimately at the heart of all children’s literature.”

Veera Hiranandani is the author of The Night Diary, which was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition, is a New York Times Editor’s Choice Pick, and an Amazon Best Book of 2018 selection, The Whole Story of Half a Girl, which was named a Sydney Taylor Notable Book and a South Asian Book Award Finalist, and the chapter book series, Phoebe G. Green. She earned her MFA in fiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College. A former book editor at Simon & Schuster, she now teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute and is working on her next novel. You can find her online at veerahiranandani.com

“As an author, I frequently hear the question, ‘where do you get your ideas?’ so I think people really want to know. I believe it’s different for every writer. I often explore my personal interracial and interfaith background for topics I have questions about.”

About the Moderator

Jimin Han was born in Seoul, Korea and grew up in Providence, Rhode Island; Dayton, Ohio; and Jamestown, New York.  Her writing can be found or is forthcoming online at NPR’s “Weekend America,” Platypus Press’s Digital Shorts Series, Poets & Writers Magazine, Entropy, The Rumpus, Hyphen Magazine, and elsewhere.  A Small Revolution, her first novel, was among Entropy’s Best Fiction of 2017, Pleiades Editors’ Choice 2017, Redbook Magazine’s 20 Books By Women You Must Read This Spring, Buzzfeed’s 6 Binge-worthy Literary Books of May, CNN’s Summer Beach Reads, and Electric Literature’s list of 34 Books By Women of Color To Read This Year and list of Ten Galvanizing Books About Political Protest. Find her online at www.jiminhan.com

“These three writers’ books offer readers a bold way of approaching the world. Making new paths for themselves, they inspire and call us to imagine how we too can determine our own fate. I’m excited to talk to them about how they got the nerve to persevere and the community they formed along the way.”

About RiverArts Conversation Series

RiverArts Artist Conversation series examines the creative process and how creativity fuels artists’ works in various disciplines. The final conversation in this series will be on March 24, The Ageless Artist, a panel of mature visual artists [Eleanor Goldstein, Rosalind Schneider and Arlé Sklar-Weinstein] moderated by visual artist Jane Kang Lawrence.

About RiverArts

Celebrating and cultivating the arts in the Rivertowns for over half a century, RiverArts has been the catalyst that connects performers, musicians and art-makers with Rivertowns audiences. Motivated by a belief in the power of art to bring insight and delight, RiverArts delivers programs that have repeatedly brought us together, welcomed newcomers, and created experiences that strengthen our sense of community. The free, five-town Music Tour and Studio Tour expand our combined local and metro area audiences to 20,000.

RiverArts excels in music, art and dance education with professional instructors at affordable prices. The interpretive Artist Conversations take the public inside the creative process with award winning artists, writers, directors and musicians. Every month of the year, RiverArts brings our community, the arts, and creativity together. More details can be found at riverarts.org

Seating Limited. Tickets: $10 in advance; $15 at the door [if remaining]; $5 kids. riverarts.org/authors