It takes many, many people to build each every book we get to pick up at the bookstore. What was the number Colleen threw out there? Oh yes, 4,798,560,972. Give or take a few.
But some people stand out in that line-up more than others — and that behind-the-scenes team is unique for each project. Herewith, the five peeps that Tiny Pretty Things truly wouldn’t exist without!
My parents are both pediatricians. And being proper Indian parents, they tried their darnedest to steer me toward a proper Indian career path — like medicine, engineering or even law, if it came to that. I, of course, wanted nothing to do with any of that. Ever since I can remember, I had my nose in a book — and as much as my mom may have fretted about career choices, books were always the one indulgence she’d always let me throw money at. So whether vocal or not, I knew I had her blessing. My dad was move vocally dissenting on this front — to this day, he’ll happily remind me that it’s still not too late for medical school. But I know that he’s proud, too. Ever since that first byline — seeing the name Charaipotra in print. He may not read everything (or anything) I write (he insists it goes over his head), but he’ll show it off to his friends happily. And I’m thankful for that.
My Sister Meena
When it comes to storytelling — or when it comes to anything, really — Meena was my earliest collaborator, my partner in crime. We made up tall tales about Barbie and pals, spun New Kids on the Block fan fiction (only we didn’t know it was called that back then), and eventually started writing screenplays together, keeping each other motivated to open up that Final Draft doc at 10:30 at night, after 14 hour days in the office kicked both our asses. We even had some success with the scripts — and maybe we will again one day. But I’ll always be grateful to Meena for being the one who first taught me the art of collaboration, of spitballing ideas, of keeping up the pace, of knowing that success is 90 percent about passion and preparedness.
The Ladies at Daycare — and My Smartie Pant Girl Kavya
My daughter Kavya was seven-months-old when I started my MFA program at the New School. And she started daycare the same week. The ladies at her daycare were awesome — loving, funny, tattooed, and always there to offer her a cuddle. Four years later, as Shaiyar started at the same school, many still greet her with a smile, still remember her name. And now that Shaiyar is there, I know they’ll be just as good to him. I’ll admit, when he started — and when Kavya did, too — I cried. I bawled. I’m still riddled with mommy guilt to this day — and I accept that it will always be with me, at least a little bit. That little girl puts in longer hours than any one of us. But I also know this: she’s so smart, hardworking, funny and motivated. She’s like a little miracle. And a natural storyteller. I hope her brother will be the same.
My Writing (And Business) Partner Dhonielle
When I met Dhonielle the first day of my MFA program, I knew we were kindred. We bonded over Vampire Diaries, Patsy’s pizza (and Umami burgers!), and especially the lack of diversity in books for kids and teens. One day, during one of our endless discussions, she started talking about the crazy antics she saw go down at the cutthroat ballet academy she once taught English at. And Tiny Pretty Things was born. Along with it came a mission: to bring as much diversity to publishing as two five-foot-tall little brown girls possibly could.
The Writer Husband
Not many husbands are as funny, smart or kind as Navdeep. (Or hot — he’d def want me to mention that part.) But maybe the most astounding thing about him is his patience. His patience with me as I try to do a gazillion things at once. His patience with Dhonielle’s fretting over this tech thing or that. The endless hours he’s spent hanging with the kids so I could have an extra chunk of time to write, or to grab dinner with this person, or to go to that signing. His patience with me as I wrote and rewrote the same story for five years. But then there’s also his insistence that I’m grateful for. His insistence that I did, in fact, have a book me. His insistence that I keep working on that first book, even when I (so) wanted to bail. His insistence that I apply to MFA programs. His insistence that I go when I got into the New School. His ceaseless support shouldn’t surprise me. After all, he’s a writer, too. (A damn good one.) He knows what it takes. And I’m so glad he’s always believed that I have what it takes.