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Keepsake that Educates!

Mymcbooks Interview Author Shoba Sreenivasan

Shoba Sreenivasan



Shoba Sreenivasan is a forensic psychologist. She earned a doctorate in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and is a clinical professor at the University of Southern California. She has published several papers and co-authored a motivational book. This is her first work of fiction.

My American experience begins with my parents’ memories of Midwestern American decency and kindness towards two young people in the 1950s who were a world away from their home — Bombay, India.  I was born in Columbus, Ohio where my father was a scientist on a post-doctoral research fellowship at Ohio State.  We then moved to Peoria, Illinois and then back (for them) to India when I was three.


I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog.


What is the last book you read?
The Way We Live by Anthony Trollope

What was your favorite Teen book?
I don’t remember having a favorite Teen book- I read widely as a teenager- romances, historical novels, I remember loving The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and re-read them just to experience the journey again and again.

What were your earliest memories of writing?
Probably in the fifth grade when I had to write a short story, though I can’t remember what it was about!

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?
It came from reading which inspired me to write. I also like escaping into fantasy, considering what if questions like if certain evil people could have been prevented from wreaking havoc on the world, what would have happened? Writing Mattie allowed me to do.

Do you generally get a story idea first or does the main character develop first?
As a psychologist people interest me, so I am generally driven first by a main character’s inner motivations and drives, and this leads to the story.

What inspired you to write Mattie Spyglass and the 8 Magic Stones? 
A sign on the 101 Freeway going North from L.A. to Atascadero. I had to drive that way quite a bit for work over several years. I kept seeing Mattie Road and Spyglass Road, and put that together and began thinking about Mattie Spyglass. Who was Mattie? What was the Spyglass? I’ve always had stories in my head and this just spun out.

Is there a connection between yourself and Geeta in the book?
Yes, I’m a bookworm like Geeta and of course also Indian. But Geeta is quieter than I am, more reflective and influenced by her grandfather (ThaTha) than I am.

Why did you pick Dan Ungureanu to illustrate your book?
Dan’s Romanian and immediately connected to the Old World feeling of the book. Mr. Herman Biddle a main character in the book is actually from Russia, and as the cover illustrations show, Dan captured his character well, down to the old fashioned whiskers and cape. Also, he had a good feeling of Siberian winter (a setting in the story), the gypsies, as well as the look and clothing of Mattie, Eddie and Geeta.

Do you believe in magic and why? 
Yes. But, maybe not in the way that one ordinarily thinks of magic. I believe in considering experiences beyond the ordinary. Jung, a psychoanalyst, called this memories from our collective unconscious, that is the ancient memories and fears that we carry from generation to generation, that make up the stuff of myths.  So, maybe the answer to the question is this: I believe in the force of myths.

Are you working on a new book?
Yes, a sequel to Mattie Spyglass.

What is the most difficult part of writing?
Getting beyond a roadblock, which invariably occurs and has to be overcome.

Do you write full time or do you still have a day job?
I have a day job as a psychologist.

How do you react to a bad review and have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
I’ve published a lot of academic articles in what is called a “peer-reviewed” process. You can’t engage in peer reviewed publications without developing a thick skin to bad reviews (actually, many are scathing). So, I just take the nuggets of good in the review and move on.
I have suffered from writer’s block, and deal with it by just stopping the writing for the day and moving onto something else. Writer’s block is temporary and I believe a way of your creative forces saying, “take a break.”

What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?
Many things: the mythical story of the time-travel journey, the battle between good and evil, the lessons from history that are in this book, an interest in learning about ancient Babylonia, and the moral lessons posed by the Path of the Virtuous, and how ordinary people (like Mattie, Geeta and Eddie) can be catapulted into extraordinary responsibilities.

Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?
I think I would have loved to have met Steinbeck, he had such a keen understanding of many different people.  Also, I love Anthony Trollope and it would have been fun to discuss things with him such as the role of women and control of their destinies in Victorian England. Leo Tolstoy is a moral inspiration for me and I love the lyrical nature of his writing.  I would love to have met Margaret Mitchell as Gone with The Wind was an early favorite of mine.  I would have loved to have met Helen Hooven Santmeyer who published her first book “And Ladies of the Club” at age 89.

What author inspires you the most and why?
Leo Tolstoy- he was such a great thinker and moralist. His short stories in Walk in Light are moving pieces that can provide a moral framework for all.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I am very disciplined by nature and set a time for writing and accomplishing my goals.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
I would suggest selecting books that have a good lessons in them: like the Tolstoy stories, also ones that have a great story (C.S. Lewis), but also read anything that helps get a child interested in reading. My niece became motivated to read because she loved cartoons and wanted to be able to read them herself in the newspapers.

What advice you would give to new writers? 
Write and don’t criticize yourself. Everyone has a story, tell yours (even if it is fiction).

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Mattie has been a great mythic journey for me traveling as she, Geeta, Eddie and Mr. Biddle do through the Space Between Two Seconds backwards into time, with the evil snake Uri Gneezy ever at their heels. I hope that your readers will be intrigued and pick up Mattie Spyglass!



Thank you for this interview.
Thank you for the opportunity to consider these questions, thought-provoking indeed!



March 14, 2013 - Posted by | Meet the Author | , , , , ,


  1. I am excitied that the personalities int he story will be complex and captivating considering your day job.

    Comment by nylne | March 14, 2013 | Reply

  2. I like the comment that she made about writer’s block, “Writer’s block is temporary and I believe a way of your creative forces saying, “take a break.” ” I will definitely be using this quote with my students as they are writing. Many of them get started on their brainstorming and come to a roadblock. I want them to know that this is normal, but they will get through this temporary stumble. Great interview!

    Comment by Rhonda P. | March 15, 2013 | Reply

  3. Mattie Spyglass sounds like a strong young female character that my granddaughter would love to read about. I love how her name came to you!

    Comment by Teresa Young | March 15, 2013 | Reply

  4. I didn’t learn as much about the upcoming book via this post as I have with some of the others on your blog. However, I learned more about the author, and she is an interesting character (in the best sense of the word) in her own right. I agree with Rhonda about the “writers block” thing. However I also know that sometimes just “priming the pump” and putting any old cr-p down on paper can kick-start the writing process – at least it works for me, because that blank sheet of paper is sometimes the biggest “block” there is!

    Comment by Andrew T. Kuligowski | March 15, 2013 | Reply

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