What's Your Story? Meera Sriram
This month I'm talking to Kidlit Author Meera Sriram.
Meera grew up in India and moved to the U.S in 1999. An electrical engineer in the past, she now enjoys writing for children, leading early literacy initiatives, and advocating for diverse bookshelves. Meera is the author of picture books, The Yellow Suitcase and A Gift For Amma, and has also co-authored several books in India. Meera believes in the transformative power of stories and likes to write on people, places, and experiences less visible in children's literature. For more information, visit www.meerasriram.com
Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. But within that bigger story are lots of little ones, chapters, scenes and volumes…
Meera Sriram, what’s your story? The Beginning - who are you and what do you love about kidlit?
I was born and raised in a bustling city in Southern India. School and free play in the backdrop of loud hawkers and honks pretty much filled up my childhood. I went on to become an electrical engineer because I love science. I moved to the U.S over two decades ago. And when my kids came along, the universe of kidlit opened up! I was not only reading picture books as a parent but also making up for all the years I didn’t have access to them as a child. Raising kids of color across cultures, I realized our own experiences were almost completely absent in the books we read. A thirst to create set in, and I recalibrated my purpose and passions as a person and in my career. I love picture books because they’re very powerful - the marriage of evocative art and sparse words to tell a story can affect and influence young minds in seemingly simple ways.
The Middle- where are you in your journey right now?
I started my journey co-writing – four kids’ books I co-authored were published in India. In 2015, I decided I wanted to write for publishers in the U.S, stories with children like my own and all of our experiences. My debut picture book, THE YELLOW SUITCASE, a grief story inspired by my own family’s experience came out last year.
My second picture book, A GIFT FOR AMMA: Market Day in India, comes out in August. This book is special because the story is set “in the backdrop of the loud hawkers and honks” I mentioned earlier J It is a colors concept book for children 3-8 years that captures the unique liveliness of street markets in India. And Barcelona-based illustrator Mariona Cabassa’s art does an absolutely wonderful job of taking the readers through the bustle and beauty.
The End, (which is always actually a new beginning!) What’s next for you in your story?
I love that you call the “end” the new beginning! For a writer, with every story ending comes a fresh start. My next picture book, BETWEEN TWO WORLDS, is a biography of the Indian-Hungarian artist Amrita Sher-Gil. I’m also working on my fourth picture book project.
I hope to continue writing stories centering people, places, and experiences not often seen in “mainstream” children’s literature.
And finally, what advice about your craft, or books or art, would you give your younger self back at the beginning of your story?
I think I’d nudge myself to read more authors that write in the genre and category I aspire to write in as I have a tendency to keep going back to a few favorites. While being impatient and restless has pushed me to work harder and faster, I would definitely tell myself to be more patient with everything – learning, revising, submitting, networking, promoting – and eventually growing as a good writer, takes time. And I should remember to enjoy the process as much as the mile-markers.
Thank you, Ellie, for having me! I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my story.
Thanks so much for being here, Meera! You have a fascinating story and your books are so beautiful.
and I'll talk to you soon...