1.) Easy stuff first- tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you begin writing? What fills your life and lights up your days?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. It’s in my blood. My grandfather wrote novels, my grand-uncle is a famous Indian poet and playwright, and my aunts are editors and poets… The list goes on and on.
I have two brilliant, mostly all-consuming, lights for my days – my two girls (ages 3 and 7).
2.) Can you tell us a bit about your publishing process? Are you agented? Self-published?
I am self-published.
3.) What were the benefits and challenges that you found along your journey? And do you have any words of advice for your fellow writers- things to do? Pitfalls to avoid?
It was difficult to find a publishing house that was open to publishing a book of poetry from an unknown poet. So I just cobbled together money and did it myself. But if I could do it again, I think I would try harder to shop it around. At the time of choosing a publisher, I was dealing with thyroid cancer, so I was easily fatigued and discouraged. Don’t get discouraged – look hard for a publisher because self-publishing and self-marketing is exhausting and difficult. Also, join writers’ groups and ask lots of questions. I was working in a bit of a vacuum and I think that made the process more difficult.
4.) How long have you lived in the TriValley? What do you think of the area for authors? And why?
I grew up in the Tri-Valley, moved away for a while and then moved back when it was time to raise a family. I think it is just the right size for emerging authors. There are some great bookstores that are open to carrying books from new authors, and you can always travel to Berkeley or San Francisco for the big conferences.
5.) I was so touched by your poetry. It must have been a huge undertaking. As a busy mom yourself- what made you decide to dive into this project? Would you do anything differently (writing-wise, that is)?
Thank you so much! Actually, it was just the most natural thing in the world to me. I pay my bills by being a freelance science writer. I found that often I would have some time between assignments or late at night after the girls had gone to sleep. So I would take a little “me time” – a catharsis from my avalanche day – to write, to emote, or even to be a little silly sometimes. After several years, I ended up with over 40 poems. I culled, sifted and organized until I had the best 20 poems that showcased universal themes of motherhood. I edited these poems a lot – it is important to me that this book is easy-to-understand and relatable. So, the poems are as tight and thoughtful as I could make them. I think if I could change the subtitle, I would make it: A Gift Book for Mothers. The word ‘poetry’ sometimes scares people off.
6.) Do you write long hand first, or does it go straight into the computer?
I am definitely a computer typer. For longer pieces, I sometimes will use index cards, but for this one, it all went straight into the computer. Then before I submitted the manuscript to the publisher, I did some old school cutting and pasting of mock-ups so I knew what I wanted for illustrations, formatting and layout.
7.) Where do you find your sources of inspiration? Does your muse vary from project to project or do you find the well-spring is fairly consistent?
Inspiration waits for me in the quiet. My days are full and noisy. So, when I pull away from all that chaos and allow myself the time to breathe, I often discover Inspiration is sitting quietly on a lotus pad wondering what took me so long to show up.
8.) Looking at parents, and moms in particular, what do you think we judge ourselves too harshly on? What do you think we should take a hard look at in our parenting roles?
I think that with so much social media influencing moms, we often have unspoken or even unconscious competitions with other. On my personal news feed, I have one mom posting about her amazing weight loss while another is bragging about her kid’s swimming prowess and a third is always off on some fantastic vacation. And if I allow myself to get into the competition, I will feel badly about my own body image and my kids’ athletic skills and my summer plans. I think we all just need to slow down and keep clear priorities. If we can just find the time and energy to routinely talk to our kids and spend quality time with them, we will win a big chunk of the parenting battle.
9.) Have you learned anything from your readers? Or had a response that especially touched you?
I always thought that corporate moms were somehow superhuman. They manage the demands of work and home in ways that I have never even attempted. And they do it so well that I often think of them as being intimidating or at the very least, difficult to relate to. So I was surprised when a corporate CEO mom read the book and ended up in tears. Her husband sent us a picture of her sitting on her chair with the book in her hands and text said: “What did you do? She never cries!” That was when I realized how truly universal motherhood is. And now I don’t hesitate to share the book with mothers and grandmothers from all walks of life, because I truly know that each one of them could be touched by the poems in the book.
10.) What makes you laugh? What makes you cry?
My husband makes me laugh, more than anyone else in the world. I love dark humor, puns and political satire these days. I cry easily – so anything from Hallmark commercials to singing Que Sera Sera will set me off!
11.) If you could be a fairy godmother for one night- what three people would you visit and what would you bestow upon them?
Such a fun question! I would visit Adolf Hitler and bestow a black mamba snake on him. I would visit my grandchildren on their wedding days and bestow them with lifetimes of happiness and love. And I would visit my daredevil daughter and bestow the gift of flight, because one of these days I am pretty sure she is going to try to jump off the roof.
12.) Can we ask what projects you have currently in the works? Where can readers find you, both virtually and in the 3D world?
I have a couple of short stories in the works… Email me and I will keep you posted!
I am on LinkedIn, and I have my website: http://www.juhikunde.com
For book orders, you can email me at expressionsofmilk.com, or you can order on etsy.com and get free domestic shipping. The book is also available in paperback and electronic versions on Amazon.com
When I am not typing on my computer or taxiing my girls to their activities, you can find me getting my hands dirty in the garden.
Juhi, again, I can’t thank you enough for your time and your talent! It was awesome to share you with my readers!!!