Every book is an autobiography. If you want to know about my life, all you have 
to do is read my books. Kids always react to that revelation by wondering if 
that makes me a vampire pig (à la Hampire!) or a chicken in pajamas (à la Chicks Run Wild) – and, of course, it doesn’t. But there is a piece of me in each of my books.

It is not possible for a writer to write anything authentic that she does not know intimately. Therefore, as authors, what we write inevitably reflects what we 
have lived. 

Imagine someone who has always been good at everything. School, college, research, even motherhood 
– she’s expected success, and therefore, she was successful. The Greeks were fond of endowing their 
epic characters with pride – and as they say, pride 
goeth before the fall. Or the walk down the plank.

Princess Bea has  big dreams – the kinds that involve the high  
seas, swashbuckling, and treasure hunts.  She’s going to be 
pirate – even though she’s  a princess who has never been on 
a ship in  her life. She’s absolutely sure she will  succeed, 
until her dreams – and her lunch –  come crashing down in 
front of everyone.

As you can probably guess, I was the 
writer who had always been good at 
everything. I graduated valedictorian 
from high school and near the top of my 
class at Caltech. I took my Master’s 
degree qualifying exam at Caltech a few 
hours before going into labor. When I 
had my first two babies, the processes 
were easy, they ate and slept well, and it 
was more a delight than a struggle. My 
girls even slept until at least 10AM! 
Life came easily to me.

Then I decided I wanted to be a writer. I wrote some stories and sent out my manuscripts and…got rejection after rejection after rejection. Everyone told me I was crazy to even try to be a writer. After all, I’d never taken a writing class, I had no training in literature, and I just had no business trying to write for kids.

There were so many moments I wanted to give up. But like Princess Bea, I learned that even when faced with a bleak future, believing in yourself can make your dreams come true. There is a piece of me in Princess Bea’s resolve and perseverance. Pirate Princess is the eleventh picture book I’ve published, and I have at least a half-dozen more in the pipeline.

The story behind Quackenstein Hatches a Family is actually one of my favorites to tell. Imagine a writer who is expecting a child – her third in fact. She’s already had two daughters, perfect little princesses. She is convinced she is about to have daughter number three, when she find out that the new she is actually going to be a he. 

Quackenstein is desperate to have a family, so 
he comes up with a plan – he will adopt an egg. 
Except that the egg that he adopts isn’t what he 

I’m not really saying my son is a monster. 
But there are several themes in the book 
that are personal to me. How a parent 
can be excited about having a child 
and terrified by the prospect. How a 
parent can make assumptions about 
a child and then be surprised by the 
reality. How a person might feel trapped 
by the responsibilities of parenthood.

The end result is a story about acceptance, about what
it means to be a family, and about how freakish yet 
cute platypuses really are. And, in case it isn’t 
obvious, my son is a delight, a joy, and a blessing, 
all contained in the outer packaging of a beautiful, adorable, monster.

If I had not had the experiences I’ve had, I could not write the books that I write. 
Imagine a writer with a bunch of kids running wild all over her house. She’s got to 
balance the demands of being a mother with those of running her household. She must be tired by the end of the day, and must hope that after kissing her babies goodnight, tucking them in, and shutting the door, they might fall asleep peacefully. Now imagine how she’d react if, each night, all they did was RUN WILD!

Every time I read Chicks Run Wild, I am proud of how the audience completely connects to it. After all, every kid knows how it feels to want to bend the rules from time to time, and every parent knows how wonderful it is to let the kids do that – every once in a while. The best part? That nobody knows how to party like Mama. Every kid should learn that lesson early in life!

So, now you know a lot about me, about my past and my experiences. The only thing left to do is to talk about the future.
Imagine a writer who is starting over again. On her own, three children to raise, a career to manage, an uncertain road ahead. Imagine she might worry about the decisions she now must make alone – and how she might wish for a glimpse of the future to confirm that everything will turn out just right.

Writers write what they know.

Now meet Destiny Sen and her family. 

“Nani, I need to talk to you. Now.” I slam the door to the guest room so hard that Nani’s purse falls off the bed with a thump.

“What’s going on, Destiny?” 

“It’s the glasses, Nani,” I say in my superserious voice. Nani’s eyes grow wide. “These glasses are making me see things!”

“Destiny, you do know that’s the point of wearing glasses, right? To see things better?”

“No! I mean I’m seeing things. Like Mom dropping the groceries.”

“So wait,” Nani says, “you saw the groceries spill and the accident before they happened?”

I nod.

Nani grins and sinks down onto the bed. 

“Then they are working for you.”

“I knew it! I’m not crazy, the glasses are doing something funny to my eyes!” I take a deep breath and cover my mouth with my hands. “Do these glasses let me see the future?”

Destiny Sen, the fifth-grade star of a new series called Spectacles of Destiny, gets a magic pair of eyeglasses that let her see snippets of the future. Depending on what she sees, she either tries to make things happen or tries to keep them from happening. Because it will be a series, I don’t know everything Destiny will do or face, or how things will work out. But I am enjoying the process of learning Destiny’s fate alongside the character herself, and this enjoyment keeps me plugging away on this path I am on, even though the journey is ambiguous and the road ahead uncertain.

In other words, I don’t know where I am going, but I am enjoying the ride.
find me here:

© 2011-2014, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen. All rights reserved. Site design Donna Farrell

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