Deep below the market, in the dark tunnels no human knows exist, a war has begun. Led by the charismatic Beloved Chairman, a colony of rats plots to exterminate the ugly two-legs who have tortured them in labs, crushed them with boots, and looked at them with disgust for as long as anyone can remember.
When the Chairman’s nephew is injured and a young two-leg nurses him back to health, however, doubt about the war creeps in. Now the colony is split—obey the Chairman and infect the two-legs with the ancient sickness passed down from the Old Ones, or do the unthinkable…
Hello book lovers! Today is a day where I will be writing another author spotlight for a well-accomplished author whose work I have loved. As you know book lovers I love learning about authors and the inspiration behind their work, it fascinates me and adds to the depth of the book because the reader will be able to better understand it. That is how the author spotlights were created because I soon discovered that you lovely readers ALSO love learning about author’s, so I am excited to tell you a little bit more about author A.T. Balsara whose book The Great and the Small charmed me from beginning to end. I personally would recommend this book to all of those that love fantasy but really the book can be read by anybody as it is flawlessly written and highly enjoyable. With today’s author spotlight for A.T. Balsara, a biography of the author and an interview between us both will be shared, and I hope that you book lovers enjoy reading it! To kick this off here is an author bio about the wonderful A.T. Balsara!
I am a children’s author and illustrator, and a hopeless optimist about the goodness in people…especially in children! My stories and art reflect my belief that we are all ONE (yes…you too!) and that no matter where we’ve come from, we are linked together.
The characters and critters that inhabit my stories get put through all sorts of mishaps and adventures. By the end of it, as they emerge blinking in the sun after the long night, they decide that life is good. They may be weary and lucky to be alive (thanks to me) but they are able to see that the sun still shines, and that the stars are always there, even when you can’t see them.
My stories and art come from questions I have, or ideas I want to explore…kind of like digging for buried treasure. I write between genres, and for different age groups (from picture books to young adult), and even switch between illustrating and writing. I believe We ALL have our own treasury of ideas and possibilities, that there is no limit to who we (YOU) can become. It is my hope that as you read my stories you will feel the excitement that comes when you reach for the stars!
Now, how wonderful does A.T. Balsara sound?! The author is a truly exceptional writer and I hope that you lovely readers have a read of the author’s work because you will not regret it! Please see below an interview between us both, I hope that you enjoy the author’s answers to my questions, they are incredible and provide some great advice too!
Thank you for joining us today at Red Headed Book Lover! Please tell us more about yourself.
I am a writer and illustrator, and create books for children and young adults. I live in Canada, in an old Victorian house with my husband, two cats, and two dogs. My writing and art studio is located in the old servants’ quarters. The stairs are grooved from countless servants in the past going up and down the stairs, which connects me to the history of the house. From where I work, I can look out at our old barns, and across our neighbour’s apple orchard.
Could you please tell us readers about your book and what inspired you to write it?
The Great & The Small is the story of a colony of rats who, ruled by their charismatic leader, the “Beloved Chairman,” have declared war on humanity. Tired of being treated as vermin, the colony sends out death squads of rats infected with bubonic plague as biological weapons. As human deaths start to mount, hope fades for humanity. The Beloved Chairman’s nephew, a scrawny rat named Fin, is desperate for his uncle’s approval, and is lead henchmen, until he is caught in a rat trap. Rescued from certain death by a human girl, he is secretly nursed back to health. Over the weeks it takes Fin to heal, he realizes to his horror that he has learned to love his rescuer, the “little two-leg.” Now Fin faces a choice: continue the war until every last human is killed, including the one he loves, or do the unthinkable…rebel.
I wrote the story as a visceral response to the mob mentality we humans can easily fall into that allow things like the Holocaust to occur. I also wanted to explore if it was possible for someone in the orbit and gravitational pull of a Stalin or Hitler to be able to free themselves and follow their own moral compass, or if they were doomed.
What would your advice be for aspiring writers?
To learn your craft, to learn the business, but most importantly, to write what you love. There is no guarantee that your books will ever see the light of day, so the process of creating story, of fleshing out a vision from within you, needs to be enough. The joy of creating for its own sake will free you from stale writing and from pandering to what you think people want to read. Write what YOU want to read. If you write with joy, with unfettered creativity, assuming you know your craft, chances are it will find an audience.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing about a book?
That it rings true. There is an essential humanness that we recognize when we read books that resonate with us. Some of my favorite books, The Lord of the Rings, Watership Down, To Kill a Mockingbird, Fifteen Dogs, The Sisters Brothers, A Tale for the Time Being, and most recently, All the Light We Cannot See, have at their heart the struggle of what it means to be human.
What is your writing process like?
Generally, pretty slow! I let ideas simmer on the back burner for a while before I work on them, and keep files on the various stories. Often, my best ideas come when I’m trying to sleep at night, so I always have a notepad and paper next to my bed. At the moment, I have a pile of notes from three different on-going projects stacked on my bed side table. My bedside table is doomed to be forever messy, I’m afraid!
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
It depends what age I’m writing for, and what the topic is. I know I am ready to write when scenes start coming to me, and actual pages of text (hence, the messy night table!).
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or do you only write when you feel inspired?
I try to write and/or illustrate on a schedule. If you wait for inspiration, you may wait forever. You can coax inspiration, even as you follow a schedule, by writing morning pages (from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron), meditating, and exercising before work. Otherwise, anxiety (and subsequent procrastination) about the blank page can set in and your day can be gone before you know it. I’ve done laundry, vacuumed floors, and straightened pencils and paperclips on my desk in my attempt to escape blank-page anxiety. While it might help keep the house tidy, your work stays unwritten.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I can’t read a lot of fiction while I am writing, as I tend to incorporate the other author’s “voice” into my own work. Having said that, there is nothing quite like becoming immersed in an excellent book. The most recent I read was All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. A magnificent book. Even though I can’t read as much fiction as I’d like, I’m constantly reading nonfiction. I’m currently reading a book on energy medicine and yoga. I also read from sacred writings morning and night, as I am a seeker and have always been drawn to mystical writings. On a less lofty note, I also read comics. I love Carl Barks and his Donald Duck/Scrooge stories; he was a master of the art form, and I study his work for my own illustrations. My nightstand, already loaded with notes, seems to sprout books, so I usually have a teetering stack on it at any given time.
Lastly, when can we readers expect to read more wonderful books from you?
I’m working on the illustrations to a picture book. It is the sequel to my picture book, Greenbeard The Pirate Pig, and should be available later this year. Greenbeard is a guinea pig who dreams of being a “proper” pirate. It is a joy to illustrate, as he is such a fun character. Later this year, I am reprinting my picture book, The Nightingale’s Song, a story about the joy of unity in diversity, and how beauty comes in all colors. Check my website, www.torreybalsara.com, for more details.
Thank you for having me on your blog!
Its official book lovers, I am obsessed with A.T. Balsara! If you have liked what you have read about the author and are interested in learning more about A.T. Balsara, then please do have a browse of the links below and be sure to have a read of the preview too! You will not regret it.
Goodbye for now book lovers,