Tina Athaide: Orange for the Sunsets
April is here! Wahoo! There are so many wonderful books this month! Are your eyeballs ready?
Orange for the Sunsets
by Tina Athaide
Twelve-year-old Asha and her best friend, Yesofu, never cared about the differences between them: Indian. African. Girl. Boy. Short. Tall. But when Ugandan President Idi Amin announces that Indians have ninety days to leave the country, suddenly those differences are the only things that people in Entebbe can see—not the shared after-school samosas or Asha cheering for Yesofu at every cricket game.
Determined for her life to stay the same, Asha clings to her world tighter than ever before. But Yesofu is torn, pulled between his friends, his family, and a promise that could bring his dreams of university within reach. Now, as neighbors leave and soldiers line the streets, the two friends find that nothing seems sure—not even their friendship. And with only days before the deadline, Asha and Yesofu must decide if the bravest thing of all might be to let each other go.
April 2nd, 2019
Introduce yourself and your debut novel!
Hello everyone. I am Tina Athaide and the author of a MG novel, Orange for the Sunsets. The book explores a period of time in history that is rarely discussed in literature and schools-The expulsion of Asian Indians from Uganda. It is a story of empathy, hope, and resilience as two friends examine where and who they call home. It has been said my book works as a strong companion to Veera Hiranandani’s The Night Diary and A.L. Sonnichsen’s Red Butterfly
What’s the most surprising part about your debut journey so far?
Katherine Tegen Books bought the rights to the story in 2017 and it debuts on April 02, 2019. Walking the path from the sale to the launch day as been eye opening. I was very surprised to learn just how much work and goes on behind the scenes to produce that final copy we see on book sites and shops.
Give a shout-out to a fellow debut!
WooHoo! Natasha Diaz. Her MG book Color Me In is a YA novel about a mixed-race Jewish girl as she navigates fitting in her two different worlds—Harlem and Westchester County. I cannot wait to read this book by a fellow Novel 19s and #OwnVoices writer.
Who is your favorite character?
That is a difficult one since my book is written in alternating points of view between two characters, so I am actually split between Asha and Yesofu. They are from such different backgrounds and cultures, which is what makes their friendship so interesting and even more so, how they view that bond.
How long did it take you to write this book?
15 years….It grew from a picture book into a story told from the POV of the Asian Indian character, Asha. Then finally into the book it is today, told from alternating points of view between the Indian girl and Ugandan boy.
What's a cool thing about your book that isn't in the blurb?
My mum actually delivered one of Idi Amin’s children when he was in the Army.
What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to share this story because it is a part of my childhood experience and relatively unexplored in literature. Though my family left Uganda just prior to the expulsion order, close family and friends were directly. What is remarkable is the unbreakable bond between all these families and how it has endured across many continents and over the years.
Describe your main character in 3 words.
Asha: Determined/ Impulsive/ Privileged
Yesofu: Loyal/ Hardworking/ Kindhearted
What was the hardest scene to write?
The final scene between Asha and Papa was difficult because it hit too close to my own life experience.
What advice would you give to a new writer?
Persevere through the rejections…There are usually hidden nuggets in that rejection that will take your story to a different level.
Describe your writing space.
Here, there, and everywhere. I write in the garden, on my bed, in the sitting room. I imagine writing in a coffee shop, but am too distracted my people and the goodies to nibble on.
What is your favorite word, and why?
Kerfuffle. It the perfect word to describe the first draft of my books where bits and bobs are muddled.
What book or author has most influenced your own writing?
Uma Krishnaswami, Sarah Aronson, and Kim Griswell
If you could buy only one book this year, which book would it be?
The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala
What are two of your favorite covers of all time?
Just Like Rube Goldberg by Sarah Aronson and Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Share a favorite recipe!
Masala Chai Tea
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
3 cups water
1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons black tea (decaf is best)
In a mortar, crush the cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon, or use a coffee grinder.
Transfer the crushed spices to a small saucepan, add the water, ginger and pepper and bring to a boil.
Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let steep for 5 minutes.
Add the milk and sugar to the pan and bring to a boil.
Remove from the heat and add the tea.
Cover and let steep for 3 minutes.
Stir the chai, and then strain it into a warmed teapot or directly into teacups.
Share a playlist!
Let’s get it started (The Black Eyed Peas)
Jambo Bwana (Mombasa Roots)
On The Rebound (Floyd Cramer)
Chanda Mana (Playing for Change)
At Last (Etta James)
Someday We’ll Be Together (Diana Ross and Supremes)
Link to a favorite song!
We sing this song at family gatherings. We dance to it . So, it was only fitting that it was my go to song whenever I struggled with chapters or plot points. It was uplifting and helped push me on! Jumbo Bwana.
Thanks for interviewing! Go check this book out on 4/2/19!