Hey lovely Readers,
How are we all? I’m really excited to be bringing you an Interview Q&A with the absolutely lovely #LoveOzYA and #LoveOzMG author, Michelle Kadarusman! If you’re not familiar with Michelle and her books, you definitely should follow her here on her Instagram and add her books to your Goodreads TBR ☺️ I’ll add some links to them below!
The Theory of Hummingbirds:
Girl of The Southern Sea:
Music For Tigers:
Out Of It:
Now, I recently fell in love with Michelle’s emotive writing in her #LoveOzYA debut, The Theory of Hummingbirds! You can find my review here: https://wp.me/p82sSb-wE
Now, onto the interview! I really hope you enjoy reading ☺️ I absolutely loved learning and reading about Michelle’s inspiration and craft and I can’t wait to read her other books 🥰
Thank you so, so much for agreeing to take part in a Q&A on my blog! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to ask you some questions about your beautiful Middle Grade novel The Theory of Hummingbirds, as well as getting to know about your writing inspiration and such.
1. I just finished your stunning Middle Grade Novel, The Theory of Hummingbirds and I thought it was an absolutely stellar and evocative debut! Congratulations on writing such a moving story, which is own voices! Was writing Alba’s story something you’d always felt inspired to do?
Michelle Kadarusman: “Thank you so much, Brooklyn! Essentially I wanted to write a story about self-acceptance. Alba, has a clubfoot to illustrate the theme because I had a clubfoot as a child, but most of us have something that makes us feel different or left-out. Sometimes it’s physical, but it can also be something hidden and unseen. Often it is our own self-exile that keeps us feeling like outsiders. We are so pre-occupied to fit-in and be normal, but what is normal and does it really matter? I was also inspired to use the tiny but mighty hummingbird throughout the story as a metaphor for Alba’s gained insights and to help her to look at her challenges differently. In writing the novel I hoped to celebrate the differences we all share, no matter what the diversity may be.“
2. In The Theory of Hummingbirds, Alba’s best friend Levi is completely fascinated by Science and convinced himself that there’s a wormhole in the School Librarians’ Office – I thought this was completely sweet, refreshing and of course imaginative! When I first read about Levi’s theory I was equally wistful and finding it completely endearing, I loved it! – can you tell me about the inspiration behind Levi’s character and why he was completely transfixed with the notion that there might be a wormhole in Ms Sharma’s office?
Michelle Kadarusman: “Levi has become preoccupied with Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time and Albert Einstein’s theory about gravitational waves – something that sets his imagination on fire. His mind is full of the magical possibilities that this theory purposes, that it could cause ripples in space and time. He gets a little carried away with it, but I wanted to highlight how mind blowing these concepts might be for kids like Levi. It’s kids like him who may become the scientists who discover new ways for us to look at the world. As the librarian character, Ms. Sharma, says to Levi, it’s the people who have no boundary to their curiosity – who are brave enough to imagine, to explore and find answers – who change science fiction into science fact.“
3. I absolutely loved the significance of Hummingbirds and how they are so important to both Alba and Levi but also how they help Alba embrace her challenges and also her uniqueness! What was the confirming moment where you knew you’d be featuring these remarkable creatures in your remarkable novel?
Michelle Kadarusman: “I saw my first hummingbird while staying at a friend’s cabin by a lake outside of Toronto. In this part of the world a lot of people put out hummingbird feeders in the spring and summer. Watching it dart and dive toward the feeder was magnificent. They are so tiny but so powerful at the same time. And the males have colourful feathers that flash in the sunlight. To me it was like witnessing something magical, like seeing a fairy. Hummingbirds are amazing little creatures – they can travel for thousands of kilometres, fly backwards, hover, and yet they can’t do the simple thing of walking. I hoped using hummingbirds as metaphors throughout the story would illustrate for Alba, and the readers, that abilities present in all kinds of different ways.”
4. I’d love to know some of your early reading memories? Was there an Author (or multiple?) that inspired you to want to write? Was there a moment (or several) that really saw you yearning to get your stories told?
Michelle Kadarusman: “I was lucky to have a mum who read to me at bedtime. My earliest reading memories are of her reading Enid Blyton’s ‘The Enchanted Forest’ and ‘The Magic Faraway Tree.’ It still evokes treasured memories of being totally beguiled and captivated by the stories. I always wanted to become a writer and my mum encouraged me to write, that’s why I dedicated ‘The Theory of Hummingbirds’ to her.”
5. In turn, it always interests me to know what Authors enjoy reading, so let’s talk about some books that you’ve read and enjoyed lately? Do you find that you read across a variety of genres or do you find yourself going back to one genre above others? What are some books that you’re looking forward to reading?
Michelle Kadarusman: “I do read widely across different genres. While I enjoy adult non-fiction and fiction, I always have a middle-grade book on the go as well. I’ve just finished reading ‘White Fragility’ by Angela DiAngelgo and ‘Brown Girl Dreaming’ by Jacqueline Woodson. Next on my TBR pile is ‘My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich’ by Ibi Zoboi. I am especially drawn right now to books that represent diversity.“
6. Could you talk us through a day in the life of Michelle Kadarusman? Do you have a writing schedule or a specific amount of time / a routine that you devote to writing per day or?
Michelle Kadarusman: “Mostly I just need uninterrupted time. Breaking concentration during writing – a first draft especially – is frustrating. I need to psych myself into deep concentration. I like to write first thing in the morning, before my head is filled with all the activities of the day. Realistically, I fill one or two hours with new words, while editing and revising makes up the rest of the day.”
7. Lastly, could we have a bit of a teaser talk about what might be next for you, Michelle? I’m already excited to hear about what adventures may await in your next book/s! I’m sure they will be brilliant! ☺️
Michelle Kadarusman: “I have written two other middle-grade novels.
Girl of the Southern Sea is set in my father’s homeland of, Indonesia, and follows 14-year-old Nia who lives in the Jakarta slums along the train tracks. She wants to attend high-school and become a writer but her family can’t afford it. Nia finds empowerment in writing and telling stories about a mythical Javanese princess, Dewi Kadita. It was published in North America in 2019 and UQP will release it in Australia in early 2021.
My most recent middle-grade novel, Music for Tigers, was released internationally in April this year. It is set in Tasmania. A young Canadian violinist, Louisa, is sent to her mother’s bush camp in the Tarkine rainforest where she discovers her family have been stewards of a secret sanctuary for endangered and extinct marsupials, but the camp and animals are now threatened by mining and logging. There’s a bit of mystery in this one so I won’t give away any spoilers! The hardcover is currently available in Australia and a paperback release will come next year.
While the settings of my stories are different, the themes of empowerment, self-acceptance and friendship are consistent. I also tend to weave nature and human themes together quite a lot. I am continually fascinated by nature and environment – how we treat it and interact with it – I think it informs so much about who we are.”
Thank you again so, so much, Michelle for taking the time to answer these questions! I hope you enjoyed answering them as much as I did posing them to you ☺️.
Michelle Kadarusman: “Thank you so much for having me on your wonderful blog, Brooklyn. xo”