Tina Athaide was four years old when her family left Uganda in the early 1970s, shortly before President Idi Amin ordered the expulsion of 80,000 South Asian Indians. Her father, though born in Uganda, had a British passport; her mother had roots in Goa, India. We spoke with Athaide about writing her debut novel,Orange for the Sunsets, which is inspired by her family’s experience and that of fellow refugees.
The summer that 19-year-old Kate Allen lived at home in Beverly, Mass., while on break from college, a fisherman caught a great white shark in her town and pulled it into the harbor. “I couldn’t believe it,” Allen says. “I had just been swimming in the ocean the night before. Everyone thought the water was too cold for sharks.” Years later, her debut novel, The Line Tender, returns to the subject of that shark capture.
When adult author Carlos Hernandez was invited to write a middle grade novel for fantasy idol Rick Riordan’s imprint at Disney, he jumped at the opportunity. We spoke with Hernandez about the inspiration for his children’s debut, Sal & Gabi Break the Universe, a science fiction romp starring a Cuban-American boy.
Where did Sophie Gilmore become acquainted with the crocodiles that star in her picture book debut Little Doctor and the Fearless Beast? The idea emerged from stories told by her sister’s husband, an ecologist in Australia, whose job sometimes required catching crocodiles and tagging them, and who told hair-raising tales about his experiences.
Gail Shepherd spent many years as a journalist, so she is no stranger to digging deep into a story to find what lies beneath the surface. It’s appropriate, then, that her debut novel, The True History of Lyndie B. Hawkins, focuses on 11-year-old Lyndie, who she says is passionate about history and likes “getting to the very truth of what happened.”