Interview - Mitali Perkins, author of Bamboo People

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): King of Anything by Sara Bareilles.

Today we have the lovely and exceedingly wonderful Mitali Perkins, author of Bamboo People (a book I loved, and has also been nominated for a Cybils award!--nominations still going on, by the way) who is here with a mini-interview. Oh, and rights have just been sold to turn it into an audiobook! Yay Mitali! Here we go!

[HZ] I have to admit, Tai was a favorite character of mine. Where did he come from/how did you develop him as a character?

[Mitali] So glad you liked him! He formed himself in my imagination, but he does have similarities to one of my sons.

[HZ] Your novel speaks a lot about violence, prejudice and power. Why did you focus on these subjects when crafting this story?

[Mitali] I think about those issues all the time. Can't shut the door on them when they ask for entrance into my stories.

[HZ] You give a hint of it in the story, but why did you choose to call your story Bamboo People?

[Mitali] I. Love. Bamboo. It is one of the most generous, ecologically-efficient plants on the planet, and people along the Thai-Burma border use it for absolutely everything.

[HZ] While this story is incredible, there is reality behind it going on right now. What can you tell us about children soldiers and the situation in modern Burma? What can be done to help?

[Mitali] Find out if your elected representatives have taken a stand on Burma or on child soldiers. If not, write a letter to him/her to express your outrage at the situation. Raise money to give through the organizations I’ve listed at Pray. Read the news about Burma. Find out if Karenni refugees are arriving anywhere in your area and do your best to help them get settled in this new place—they were finally granted permission to come here last year.

[HZ] Your world really came alive as your wrote it. Is there anything from Burma or Thailand you can share with us? Anything that can bring this wonderful world closer to our own door? :)

[Mitali] My good friend who has lived and worked with the Karenni shared a beautiful tradition with me. When a friend or family member is about to leave on a journey, the community gathers and blesses the person by tying white strings around his or her wrist. Maybe we should tie white strings around our wrists for a day in honor of these suffering people. What do you think?

Thank you so much, Mitali. And please keep writing such beautiful stories.


Dana Cheryl said...

I'd not heard of "Bamboo People" until just the other day when you posted about it. I will pick it up today then read it and donate to my library. Thanks for another good suggestion Heather! Enjoyed the interview too. It's lovely to see creativity work to combat situations such as those occuring in Burma.

Mrs. DeRaps said...

I just purchased this book for my classroom. I have high hopes that it will be a book that I decide to use as a whole-class read. Thanks for highlighting the people of Burma! It's tough to find great world lit reads for young adults.

Heather Zundel said...

Dana - Thank you! And that is amazing you would donate it to your library. I can't tell you how that warms my heart. :)

Mrs. DeRaps - Oh, do tell me if you/they like it! And I agree, it is much too hard to find great world reads. There should be so many more of them out there. Keep coming back! I have a thing for "world reads" as you put it. :)