Six Questions with Harshita Jerath
Harshita Jerath (pronounced her-SHE-ta) loves writing stories for children. She draws inspiration from her growing-up memories in India and the colorful world around her. Cooler Than Lemonade (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, March 2023) is her second picture book. Her debut was Leaping Laddoo (Albert Whitman, 2022). Harshita graduated with a degree in Industrial Microbiology and has a master's in Hospital Administration. She lives with her family in Scottsdale, Arizona. Visit Harshita's website for more information about her or to sign up for her newsletter, "What's Cooking?"
1. How did you begin your journey as an author?
Growing up in India, I penned quotes and poetry in my journal, a habit I continued through adulthood. Though writing was always an integral part of me. I was oblivious to the fact that I could pursue a writing career.
After raising the kids' break, I contemplated jumping back into the workforce, and that’s when it struck me to share my writing with the world. So, I started my blog and learned on the go. Then, on my marriage anniversary, my hubby gifted me a course to write for children. This was a pivotal moment. After I took that course, there was no looking back.
2. What’s the best piece of advice a mentor has given you?
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is, “Keep working on your craft, and when you’re ready, success will find you.”
This advice calmed my impatience and helped me stay focused on improving my writing and persist in this journey.
3. To what extent is your writing inspired by your own experience, or by watching your children’s experiences?
My writing is heavily influenced by both my experiences and by observing my kids.
My upcoming book, Cooler Than Lemonade, is inspired by my younger son.
In this book, Eva, a strong-willed character full of ideas starts a lemonade stand. After being outed by the competition, she’s devastated. Only when she takes a moment to incubate and be creative again does she discover her niche—something that she’s good at and is also close to her heart— to make Kulfi, an Indian ice cream.
My debut book, The Leaping Laddoo, which introduces readers to the streets of India, is a product of my experiences traveling to India with my kids and my older son’s love for laddoos, an Indian dessert.
4. If you could tell readers one secret about Cooler Than Lemonade, what would it be?
The art on the endpapers is a little mystery for kids to self-discover.
The illustrator, Chloe Burgett, has cleverly weaved in the story's before and after, hinting at the change that takes place during the course of the story.
5. If you read this book to a room filled with kids, what message would you want them to leave with?
• Make time to play with your creative ideas
• Don’t give up, and most importantly
• Follow your heart. That’s where the joy is.
6. What was the process or timeline for Cooler than Lemonade, from idea to publishing?
Cooler Than Lemonade took about 3.5 years from idea to publication.
The idea of this book appeared in September 2019 when my son asked to open a Kulfi stand at a farmers market. After drafting and several revisions, my agent, Beth Marshea of Ladderbird Agency, started the submission process in February 2021. Two months later, I received an offer in April 2021.
In May 2021, we signed a contract with Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. The book comes out March 7, 2023, and is now available for pre-order.