Interview with Author of Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji – F. Zia
Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia and illustrated by Ken Min
F. Zia is a writer and an elementary school teacher who grew up in Hyderabad, India. Her stories blend humor and tradition, memories and contemporary moments. Zia, who believes writing—like roti making—requires persistence and practice, wrote this story as a gift to her grandchildren. Zia lives in eastern Massachusetts with her husband. This is her first picture book. http://www.leeandlow.com/books/419/hc/hot_hot_roti_for_dada_ji
Interview with Author
Your book Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji is about family and food, if you were to invite any 3 people to dine with, whom would you invite and why?
Three very special people come to mind right away. I would want my mother there to reassure her that I have learned to cook after all, albeit reasonably, if not masterfully. I would like my daughter there to relieve her of a day’s cooking and to (joyfully) answer process related questions, such as: How much of this, or that, did you put in this, Mom? And I would want my grand -daughter, especially to feed her, to my satisfaction, with my hand, even though she can very well eat on her own! Four generations together at a table…priceless!
What is your favorite India food?
This is a hard question to answer. Indian cuisine is not only extensive, but it is also very regional. The common thread is the spice or the combination of spices that is used in varying proportions. I can safely say that I like something from each region. A well made Hyderabadi biryani with heaps of tender, luscious goat/lamb chunks and a dahi ki chutney (yogurt sauce with onion, green chilli and coriander leaf) on the side, is hard to beat. Fluffy puffy puri with spicy potato saag from the north; crispy rava dosa (crepes made with lentil/rice flour) with sambaar (lentil soup) from the south; syrupy rasgolla ( homemade cheese balls in sugar syrup) from the east and soft, tangy Khamman dhokla (made from fermented chickpea batter) from the West.
Did your grandparents inspire you to write Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji?
Ammi, my maternal grandmother, was the story teller. I remember resting in the crook of her arm and listening to her tales. Even today, I feel the comfort of her body and the warmth of her voice. My inspiration to tell stories comes from my need to create a similar bond with my own grand children. Whenever we traverse the continent to be with each other, I intend to place them on my lap and read them the stories. I hope this will create a memory for them too.
What were your earliest memories of writing?
I did composition writing (a lot of!) in grade school but I can’t say I enjoyed it so much. I do have memories of leaping into the summer assignments on the first day of summer vacation, just to get them done and put away. I began to love the act of writing, when I loved what I wanted to write about and that happened more recently in my life.
What is the last book you read?
The Bone Setter’s Daughter by Amy Tan
Who’s your favorite Author?
I can’t say that I have a particular favorite. I like anyone who tells a good story in a compelling manner. I want to read Linda Sue Parks and Sara Zarr because I heard both speak at the winter 2011 SCBWI conference in New York and because they were both inspirational. I want to know their technique. I would love to go back and read Jane Austin and the Bronte sisters for linguistic command and richness of expression.
Are you working on a new book?
I have several projects under way. I have signed a contract with Peach Tree Publishers, Atlanta, Georgia for a chapter book that is intended for the upper elementary-middle grade span. I have several other picture book manuscripts that are waiting for my own revision. My agent just reviewed something she says she likes a lot and that is very encouraging. Now, more than ever, I feel the urgency to write and to keep my fingers dipped in the process. I am constantly searching for that one good idea to write around. When I have something to say, I sit myself down and I write. Sometimes, as most writers do, I wake up in the middle of the night to jot down a word or a phrase on a scrap of paper. Sometimes this word or phrase leads to somewhere and sometimes it doesn’t. There is not a lot of time when I am not either writing, or thinking about writing. I am grateful that my husband lets me do this without guilt.
What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
As a grandmother now, I can see that the greatest gift I can impart to my grandchildren is the conglomeration of values that were imparted to me. I would suggest that parents look for books that complement perennial values — such as importance of family, friendship, trust, mutual dependence, respect etc. Books for children should be captivating and fun or else the profound message will be lost and the book, forgotten. In addition to a good story, I would heartily say that a good book is also one that honors language (this is the teacher part of me talking).
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji was written with a lot of love. I wish the readers, “Happy Reading” when they pick it up for their special little one.
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My name is Ella Johnson. I started Mymcbooks to promote reading. As a former teacher, I know that making basic education fundamentals interesting to children can be challenging. Education can be fun, exciting and captivating for children with the right learning tools. So my goal is to “make learning interesting and fun” for the children while they learn, by introducing them to fun books with colorful and captivating illustrations.
In 2009, I start the giveaway program giving away free school supplies at random to 2 winners each year. I also started a monthly free giveaways for books and gifts.
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