Sunday, 29 November 2015

Car Wash Wish

I have never had much joy in cleaning my car...but I loved writing 'Car Wash Wish' for Barrington Stoke (Edited by Emma Baker) and not once, but four times in the writing of this book, I  found myself sitting in a car wash making notes about such things as tokens and trying to capture the intense sensations that come from being enclosed in a world of water, sponges, brushes, buffers and bubbles while having one of the most important father and son conversations.

Just the other day I was telling a school group about my next book 'Car Wash Wish'  which comes out in January 2016 and a boy commented on the titles of my shorter stories for Barrington Stoke -
 'Brace Mouth False Teeth' and 'Car Wash Wish'  'They're weird but good,' he said...'makes you want to read them to find out what it all means!'

The truth is these quirky titles and stories have come to me, like any other stories do because I get affected by the characters and their lives. When I set out to write the story of 'Car Wash Wish' (About two generations of fathers and sons who have their very best conversations while in the car wash!) I had no idea that my character Hudson would be on the Asperger's Spectrum until the way his thoughts formed led me to that exploration.

Writing is such a fascinating process of discovery... often it feels like characters come to you and say 'What about me?' Can you capture my voice?' I discovered as I wrote the story that Hudson and his Dad have 'Zed - ish' (unusual and rare) shaped thoughts. Hudson finds it easier to speak to his unborn sister (Zygote) than to the people around him. As I wrote the character of Hudson I learned so much about the difficulties he faces in getting people to understand his world view and it's a real treat now to see his lovely smile breaking through on the cover of 'Car Wash Wish.'

Here is a sneak preview of Hudson's voice.

It's the day of his Grandfather's funeral and instead of being at the wake... father and son find unexpected comfort in the enclosed world of the car wash!

' I don't know what it is about being all cosy in this car wash together, but I wish Dad would carry on talking to me about Grandad. Or about anything really because it feels good to have the sound of Dad's Voice in my ear. I don't want him ever to stop talking to me. I don't care what the words mean. I wish they would just keep washing over me. Why do things have to end?

My dad talking and talking to's like the engine of a car that everyone thought was dead but someone's managed to fix it and now its spluttering back to life.'
(Pg 81 - Car Wash Wish)

Car Wash Wish comes out in January and is available for pre-orders. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed discovering the story through Hudson's eyes.

I am delighted that it is has been selected by The Bookseller as a January release to watch out for.

Monday, 19 October 2015

'Red Leaves' nominated for CILIP Carnegie Medal

At the launch on 'Red Leaves' (Children's Book Shop Muswell Hill) 

I do love autumn and it is lovely autumnal news for 'Red Leaves' (Macmillan Children's Books) to be nominated for CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016 on such a wonderful list of books.

'Red Leaves' is endorsed by Amnesty International

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Book Trust Best Book Guide 2015

More than a little happy to see 'Red Leaves' in such wonderful company on Book Trust Best Book Guide for 2015..

Also thank you to the children of Staffordshire Book Awards for voting 'Red Leaves' in third place.

And to the children of Redbridge Book Award for shortlisting it.

And the lovely school librarians who send me photos of well thumbed's things like this that can spur you on to write another book!

Monday, 15 June 2015

Refugee Week 2015: 15-21 June: Three stories about refugee people to touch your heart

Over the years I have worked with Refugee and Migrant groups, sharing and telling stories about their experiences, stories of universal Human Rights that concern us all in this - Refugee Awareness Week - and every week.

Here are three excerpts from stories that I hope will speak to young and older empathetic hearts.

The Patchwork of Storytelling. A Unique and collective art work by refugees and migrants.

Refugee Week 2015: 15-21 June

Aisha from 'Red Leaves' 

'The memory of the day that she had arrived in this country returned to Aisha like a slap in the face. Back then the whole world had seemed to tower above her like a giant shadow. She looked around the little bedroom that Liliana had decorated so beautifully for her. She would never forget the sweet smell of that welcoming vase of lilies her foster-mother had placed on the table. In those first traumatic days something about the flower scent wafting around the room had comforted her....Aisha replaced her necklace and took comfort in the warmth of the beads against her skin. This was the only precious thing that she had brought from Somalia: the prayer amulet made of jet that had belonged to the mother she'd never known. Her Abo had given them to her before they's said their last goodbyes. Since the days she had left Somalia she had never taken these beads off except to  wash and bathe. She could picture her father now, proud and tall, with his white cap covering the crown of his head. his warm, bearded face looking at her with patient dark eyes, full of love.'

Page 61 - 62 ' Red Leaves'  (Published by Macmillan Children's Books and Endorsed by Amnesty)

Dele from 'The Arrival'
On the memory of a long journey at sea and shipwreck.

'Sometimes I wonder how many there are,thousands I think, just like me, floating on the oceans between our world and yours.... these stories of leaving and arriving with nothing but this giant egg of hope.'

(Co-Created by Sita Brahmachari and Kristine Landon Smith for Tamasha Theatre Company)

Refugee Week 2015: 15-21 June
Refugee Week is a UK-wide programme of arts, cultural and educational events and activities that celebrates the contribution of refugees to the UK and promotes better understanding of why people seek sanctuary.

This year, the theme of Refugee Week is 'celebrate', and people will be invited to discover and share stories of positive contributions from refugees to the UK throughout history to the present day.

Counterpoint Arts (who coordinate Refugee Week), with funding from UNHCR, have created Traces Project, a digital timeline highlighting arts and cultural contributions by people who have sought safety in the UK, from 1933 to the present day.

Follow @AmnestyUK or @RefugeeWeek on Twitter, or AmnestyUK or Refugee Week on Facebook, to retweet and share, using the hashtag #RefugeesContribute.

Visit the Refugee Week website to find out more.

Friday, 29 May 2015

June News

I am continuing to blog every Monday on the Book Trust site as Writer In Residence.

Next Monday I will be reflecting on my travels to the Hay Festival for events with Macmillan Children's Books and Barrington Stoke.

Helen Bray ( Editor Macmillan Children's Books and I on the beautiful traveller's caravan sat Hay Festival)

'Red Leaves' has been shortlisted for the Satffordshire Book Award in some lovely company. Especially pleasing as it's the beautiful county in which I got married!


I am also delighted that 'Red Leaves' has been shortlisted for The Redbridge Book Award on the Teen Shortlist.

It's always a treat to receive a copy of your books published in different countries. I have never been to Rio De Janeiro but 'Artichoke Hearts' has! Here is the lovely cover.

Friday, 15 May 2015

A picture every author wants to see....

You sit in a room all day and write because you hope your stories are going to be read, enjoyed, and speak to people These photos sent to me on twitter by Imogen Russell @ImogenRW will spur me on. I am now writing my next book for Macmillan Children's Books and I can't tell you how heartening it is to keep these pictures of a well thumbed copy of  'Red Leaves' in mind. and heart as I write....  

Yesterday I began a project with illustrator Jane Ray at a refugee project where those who are  experiencing Aisha's journey in 'Red Leaves' also held this book. What makes writing such a transformative process is to move from the need to tell a story...the imagination, research and hours at a desk crafting words and worlds... to then have that potent distillation published and placed into the hands of young readers... in this a kind of magic.    

Red Leaves is endorsed by Amnesty International UK as a book with a Human Rights heart.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Spring Update

Book Trust Writer In Residence
I am blogging a little less often on this site until the end of August 2015, as I am busy writing my weekly blog post for Book Trust. It's a real honour to have been made their Writer In Residence and I am so enjoying writing each week's blog. I have been touched by the messages sent in response to the blog posts. I hope you enjoy reading them.

Here's the link to this week's blog:

You can find all the past blogs on the Book Trust site too.

'Red Leaves'
I am delighted that 'Red Leaves' has been shortlisted for 'The Redbridge Book Award' In the Teenage category.

Storytelling Quilt
My storytelling quilt has had several outings and seems to be in great demand by teachers (InSeT's for Pop Up Festival) and students alike as an inspiration to creative writing. Teachers and students in several schools are creating their own patchwork paper quilts containing young people's stories, objects and materials.

Patchwork storytelling quilt made by designer Grace Manning - 

What are the next  pieces in my patchwork of storytelling? 
I am currently writing  'Car Wash Wish' for Barrington Stoke

And...I am so excited to be beginning a new commission for Macmillan Children's Books...
It definitely contains something at the heart of the artichoke!

Happy Spring time to you all,

Sita  X

Friday, 13 March 2015

UKYA egg hunt

Welcome to the UKYA Easter Egg Hunt! One very lucky person will win a huge grand prize of signed books by over thirty YA authors who write and live in the UK. 

The hunt will be activated at 12pm on Thursday 19th March  and closes at noon (UK time) on Sunday, 5th April, and is open internationally.

All you have to do is read this blog, count up how many UKYA branded Easter eggs you see in the blog and follow the link at the end to the next blog.

Keep going until you get back to the blog where you started, and add up how many eggs you’ve seen along the way.

Email your answer to: A winner will be chosen at random from all correct entries, and contacted by email.

So get finding those eggs! And some awesome UKYA authors and books along the way.

Good luck!

Who Am I? 

'Award-winning Sita Brahmachari has a great gift of understanding for the confusions and loneliness of adolescents and their need to be gently nurtured and cherished.Julia Eccleshare (Guardian's Book Doctor)

I'm Sita Brahmachari and I write 'Rites of Passage' plays and novels that draw on some of the big concerns we face in the real world. I am obsessed with themes of family, inheritance, home, love, identity, community and what forms a sense of self. In my first novel 'Artichoke Hearts' ( Winner of The Waterstone's Children's Book Award 2011) the lovely Nana Josie gives her Granddaughter a charm in the shape of an artichoke. All my stories are about exploring the complex layers of the heart for my characters and their worlds. I am the current Booktrust Writer In Residence for which I write a blog every Monday.

I was born in Derby, England in 1966. My father was a doctor from India, my mum a nurse from the Lake District and I grew up in a family with a love of exploring each other's cultures, histories and faiths... Now I live in London with my lovely three children, husband, dog and sparkly fish!

3 random things about me!

I saw ghosts as a child (I've put a few in my books)

I refused to read till I was nine years old ( preferred to live in my imagination) But then,,, My thirteenth birthday present was voted by my brother 'the geekiest teenage birthday present ever!' a reading chair that I still have and given the chance, I would live in!

An escaped snake from a neighbour's house (in London) appeared in my kitchen while I was writing one day last year (apparently very good luck for me - but freaked me out!)

My books are: 'Artichoke Hearts' 'Jasmine Skies' 'Kite Spirit' and 'Red Leaves' (Macmillan Children's Books)

'Brace Mouth, False Teeth' (Barrington Stoke)

'Arrival' - Based on Shaun Tan's graphic novel. Play script (Bloomsbury)

My novels are published in a number of territories. 'Artichoke Hearts' has the title 'Mira In the Present Tense' In the US (Published by Albert Whitman)  as is my second novel 'Jasmine Skies.' All my books published by Macmillan Children's Books are audio-recorded.

In keeping with this treasure hunt theme I see writing itself as a kind of treasure hunt of the imagination... and that's how I feel when I read so many of the wonderful UKYA authors who write such diverse, radical, ground-breaking and un-put-down-able books. My favourite read recently is 'A Song For Ella Grey' by the inspirational and magical David Almond.

Further details and reviews of all my books, plays and awards are on this site.
There is also a full interview about my work here:

I will be offering my most recent book 'Red Leaves' Published by Macmillan Children's Books (October 2014) as treasure!

Red Leaves is endorsed by Amnesty International and shortlisted for The Redbridge Book Award

'Sita Brahmachari has created a beautiful tale of modern multicultural life.' 
 Booktrust Review

 "We are proud to endorse Red Leaves because of its sensitive depiction of diversity and the human need for somewhere to call home. ''
(Nicky Parker, Publisher at Amnesty International UK)

Red Leaves is set in an ancient London wood (where I walk every day with my dog Billie. Here he is ... Billie the beautiful!)

A wood in which three young people from very different backgrounds run away into the city woods. Aisha is a refugee from Somalia, Iona a young homeless girl from Scotland and Zak is the child of a historian father and war journalist mother currently reporting from Syria. A stray dog and an ancient homeless woman  also circle the woods - all are seeking shelter. Incidentally... in keeping with this egg theme... the ancient and mystical Elder in 'Red Leaves' wears amber beads the size of hens eggs; inside there are insects, butterflies and particles of leaves that date back millions of years....

A treasure hunt- like model like the ones made by my sculptor character Garth in ' Kite Spirit' ( Macmillan Children's Books)

Thanks for visiting my site and collecting your Easter eggs! Your next adventure starts here with the wonderful Tanya Landman. Click on the link below to continue your UKYA treasure hunt! 

Good Luck! I hope you win! 

Monday, 19 January 2015

Human Rights in 2015

As we moved into 2015 it felt as if the world was becoming an increasingly fractured place. I wrote this piece about Human Rights for The Guardian Children's Online. I put a call out to authors, librarians, teachers, readers and publishers to suggest wonderful books championing human rights for all ages. I am delighted that this list can now be used to help children, young adults, parents and educators find stories to nurture empathy and an understanding of universal human rights.

For reasons written in the Guardian article I am especially honoured that my latest book 'Red Leaves' is endorsed by Amnesty International UK as a book that can help foster understanding of human rights. 

I talk about the specific injustices that inspired me to write 'Red Leaves 'in the following blog for Amnesty International.