Mitali Perkins

Courtesy Mitali Perkins

Mitali Perkins

March 3, 2020

Mitali Perkins is the author of many books, but most recently “Forward Me Back to You”, the story of two friends who meet on a service trip to Kolkata, and face their trauma together.

Q: Who/what inspired you to become a writer?

A: I read a ton. When I was a kid, I came to the United States, and I was the only Indian person in a high school full of white people. I was reading all kinds of books because I loved the heroics. I could see myself overcoming all those obstacles.

Q: How has writing and being part of this community impacted you?

A: Right now, I’m at the stage where I’m getting to mentor younger writers and judge the prizes—I judged the National Book Award last year. It was really fun being a part of the whole community celebrating all the stories that are being created. So I love that.

Q: What was the greatest challenge you faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

A: Twenty-two rejections between book one and book two. Twelve years of waiting, hoping and praying that I could hang in there. But that was when I realized how much I wanted to be a writer. So I didn’t give up and kept going. So I think that was one that was realized that this was what I was intended to do.

Q: Who is your favorite writer at the moment and why?

A: All my favorite writers are dead, and I reread seasonally around the clock. So I read books like “Little Women” and “The Chronicles of Narnia” seasonally. I just love the books that I used to love as a kid. They give me joy, and when I reread them I find all these new layers in them. I change and so I get something out of the story. It’s different every time.

Q: What do you hope to bring to the Los Altos community by participating in Writer’s Week?

A: I never dreamed that, as an Indian American, I could be a writer full-time. I never saw that because the models were all people in tech and STEM. And so I would love to be able to model as an Indian American, a vibrant, fun life. I love being a writer. So it’s giving an option of someone in the arts who’s living as an immigrant.

Q: If you could recommend one book to Los Altos students, what would it be?

A: This is not a popular answer, but I would say to read the Gospel of John from the Bible to see what a great storyteller Jesus was.

Q: What is the best writing advice anyone has given you?

A: It’s from Anne Lamott, who says that your first draft is going to suck big time. Just get through it, and then you can always make it better.

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