top of page
Search
  • Writer's pictureAndrew Hacket

The Backstory: GIRLS ON WHEELS

I am thrilled to welcome Srividhya Venkat to the blog today with her latest picture book, GIRLS ON WHEELS (Kokila, 8/8/23) with illustrations by Kate Wadsworth. This story is bound to inspire girls and boys alike to push boundaries and not give up. Keep reading to learn all about what inspired this story and for your chance to win a 30-minute AMA from Srividhya.




AH: Welcome to The Backstory and thank you for joining us and sharing the inspiration behind GIRLS ON WHEELS.


First off, please tell us a little bit about your story.


SV: GIRLS ON WHEELS is about three girls who support one another through the ups and downs of learning to skateboard. Anila returns to the skatepark after recovering from her once-broken arm. She is excited to feel the thrill of catching air, and yet nervous too - what if she falls and hurts herself again? Her two friends, Sana and Damini, encourage her to keep going. After all, in skateboarding, sometimes you fall, but sometimes you… FLY!

This book is about pursuing whatever you aspire for, facing your fears, not getting dissuaded by failure, and finding support.


AH: Your book provides such an empowering message for children about persevering. Whether they skate or not, everybody can gain from this message and the friendship of these three girls.


AH: What’s the story behind the story? What was your inspiration? Where did the idea come from?


SV: About four years ago, I came upon Kamali, an award-winning short documentary film named after a young female skateboarder in India. As I dug deeper, I was blown away to learn that a skateboarding revolution was happening in India. More than anything else, I was fascinated to see girls in India pursuing this daring sport.

As someone who was born and raised in India where women are largely expected to follow societal rules about gender roles and norms, I was amazed that these girls were pushing boundaries and challenging stereotypes by taking up a male-dominated sport like skateboarding. They were not only surpassing themselves, but also inspiring other girls by creating safe spaces to support and cheer for one another.

Their perseverance and courage spoke to my heart and that’s when I knew I had a story to share.


AH: So amazing! I am glad that you were able to see the need to tell this story and make it happen. What you were noticing was so powerful and now that message will be able to be spread to an even wider audience who otherwise may have missed out on it.




AH: How did you approach going from this seed of an idea to what is now GIRLS ON WHEELS? Was it something undeniable you had to write immediately or did you need to sit with this idea and let it grow for a while before it found its way to the page?


SV: As I mentioned earlier, I was fascinated to learn about the skateboarding movement in India, and more so to see female skateboarders breaking boundaries and taking up this daring sport. While I did my research, I had a story simmering in my head. And when I’m really excited about a story idea, I have to get it down on paper quickly. So that’s what I did. But like any other manuscript, the story went through several rounds of tweaking and revising with the help of my critique group. It took about eight months of intensive research, writing and revising to get a submittable draft ready.

However, what’s now GIRLS ON WHEELS came after many more changes since I received a request to Revise & Resubmit.


AH: That is an interesting situation to have had the desire to pen the draft quickly, but at the same time, it required a certain amount of research to be able to write it in the way that you wanted to. I bet that the ongoing research led to some additional tweaks and revisions.


AH: Did GIRLS ON WHEELS undergo any major changes/revisions from the original version? If so, what led you to make these changes?


SV: The initial version of the story was inspired by one of the female skateboarders in India. When I received a Revise & Resubmit request from the publisher, what was GIRL ON WHEELS became GIRLS ON WHEELS! The story changed from being focused on one main character to three main characters. While the core themes of persistence and overcoming the fear of falling remained, the story changed from being about a girl overcoming gender stereotyping, to girls pushing boundaries and supporting one another – something I totally connected with and believed in.


AH: It sounds like you had a powerful story to begin with and that the revisions took your fabulous concept and added even more layers for readers to connect with, without changing the heart of your story.


AH: Are there any books/authors that you feel influenced your work on GIRLS ON WHEELS?


SV: I read several picture books on and about skateboarders and skateboarding. I also studied titles featuring women in sports. I think each of these played an important role in influencing my writing in terms of content, pacing, use of literary devices, etc.

And of course, I cannot go without mentioning the incredible help I received from my critique group made up of amazing authors and illustrators. This book was a challenging project and having their support meant the world to me.


AH: Critique groups are the best! I don't know how anyone in this kidlit space would want to exist without one. In addition to raising the quality of our work, they are our support system through all of the endless ups and downs of the publishing industry. I am glad you had such an amazing group along on this journey with you.



Srividhya's critique group

AH: As writers there are so many amazing resources available from books to webinars to organizations. What kidlit resources have been the most beneficial to you?


SV: I am a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and Julie Hedlund’s 12x12 Picture Book Challenge, both of which offer not just webinars and other invaluable resources, but also a very supportive kidlit community. I’ve taken craft workshops at the Writing Barn and SCBWI. I am a member of the Facebook group KidLit 411 which offers weekly newsletters with writing tips and other resources. I also subscribe to newsletters from Writers Rumpus which contain amazing resources and opportunities for creators. Finally, podcasts such as Reading with Your Kids, The Children’s Book Podcast, and Picture Book Look, have also been inspiring and insightful.


AH: You have touched on some great resources. I appreciate you adding in your favorite podcasts. I know I am always on the hunt for something new to listen to.



AH: Do you have any upcoming projects or news you would like to share with us?


SV: I have a picture book biography coming out in 2024: SEEKER OF TRUTH – KAILASH SATYARTHI’S FIGHT TO END CHILD LABOR. Published by Little Bee Books and illustrated by Danica Da Silva Pereira, it is the story of Kailash Satyarthi, a child rights activist from India who has devoted his life to end child exploitation and help children get their rights.


AH: Congratulations on the forthcoming book! It sounds like a powerful topic that needs to be shared.


AH: Where can people connect more with you?


SV: People can learn more about me from my website: www.srividhyavenkat.com, or follow me on social media: Instagram @srividhyavenkat, Twitter @venkatsrividhya, Facebook – Srividhya Venkat – Children’s Author.


AH: Readers be sure to give Srividhya a follow and check out her website to learn about all of the other books she has published! And while you are at it, please consider supporting Srividhya, illustrator Kate Wadsworth and GIRLS ON WHEELS (Kokila, 8/8/23) in whatever way you can.



This could include:


- ordering from your favorite indie


- marking as want to read on Goodreads


-leaving a review


- making a library request



Srividhya, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with The Backstory. You have created an amazingly empowering book that I cannot wait to add to my classroom library. I appreciate you giving us the inside scoop on how it came to be.

 

GIVEAWAY!


Srividhya is generously offering one winner a 30-minute AMA call.


Ways to enter:

1. Retweet my tweet about this blog post. Additional entry for tagging friends!

or

2. Leave a comment on this post.

or

3. Post about this interview on FB/Instagram and tell me in the comments that you did.


Each method earns an extra entry!

 

ABOUT SRIVIDHYA VENKAT


A former early childhood educator and oral storyteller, Srividhya Venkat believes in the power of books and stories. Having grown up in India and lived across three countries, she loves stories that are unique, yet universal. While most of her picture books have been published in India, she made her U.S. debut with DANCING IN THATHA'S FOOTSTEPS which won the 2022 South Asia Book Award. GIRLS ON WHEELS is her second book. When not reading or writing, Srividhya loves to listen to music, tinker with new recipes and explore the world outside her window. You can learn more about her at srividhyavenkat.com, or follow her on social media.



 

ABOUT ANDREW HACKET


Andrew Hacket is a teacher by day, parent by night, and writer in the nooks and crannies of life. When it comes to his books, Andrew aims to create stories that tickle the funny bone and hug the heart of readers both young and old.


Andrew is the author of the early reader, CURLILOCKS AND THE THREE HARES (The Little Press, 2024) and the picture book, OLLIE, THE ACORN, AND THE MIGHTY IDEA (Page Street Kids, 2024). Additionally, his short story, THE TUNNEL, has been chosen for inclusion in the SCBWI anthology, The Haunted States of America.


Andrew lives in Massachusetts with his wife, three young children, and puppy, Gus.


Andrew is represented by Dan Cramer of Page Turner Literary.

108 views6 comments

Recent Posts

See All

6 Comments


hayleyrdiep
Sep 29, 2023

WOW! I am so excited for a copy of this book! It looks so wonderful and fascinating!

Like

Kim-Hoa Ung
Kim-Hoa Ung
Aug 09, 2023

Congratulations, Srividhya! Your book is so inspiring! Thank you for sharing the wonderful resources! Thank you, Andrew for a great interview :)

Like

Abby Mumford
Abby Mumford
Aug 03, 2023

This book sounds absolutely fabulous! I can't wait to read it! Congrats, Srividhya!

Like

buschman.deb
buschman.deb
Aug 03, 2023

Congrats Srividhya! I loved hearing your story and I too am part of some of the same groups and they are awesome when it comes to writing PB's. I look forward to reading your book and Andrew I just pre-ordered Ollie.

Like

seschipper
Aug 03, 2023

Thanks for another great interview! Srividhya, thank you for sharing your story! Looking forward to reading your PB! :)

Like
bottom of page