Wednesday, July 5, 2017

An Interview with Sona Charaipotra, SCBWI Guest Team Blogger for the Summer #LA17SCBWI Conference

Filling in for SCBWI Team Blogger Martha Brockenbrough for this 2017 SCBWI Summer Conference, is journalist and author Sona Charaipotra!

Author Sona Charaipotra

Here's our interview:

Lee: Welcome, Sona!

Sona: Thank you! Hello to my SCBWI LA attendees! So pleased to be in your presence this year.

Lee: Please share a bit about you, and what's been your journey as a children's content creator.

Sona: I’m Sona Charaipotra, the co-author of the dance dramas Tiny Pretty Things and Shiny Broken Pieces, co-written with Dhonielle Clayton. Dhonielle and I met in the MFA Writing for Children program at the New School, and bonded over the fact that we rarely saw ourselves represented on the page (or screen!) as kids and teens. To change that, together we co-founded CAKE Literary, a boutique book packager with a decidedly diverse bent – we create fun, delicious, page-turnery books for kids and teens with real, organic diversity to them. Our latest is title is The Gauntlet, by Karuna Riazi.

I also have a Masters in screenwriting from NYU – and my thesis script there was developed for the big screen by MTV Films – so I’m a huge believer in three act structure, in screenplays and in fiction.

Lee: Tell us about your blogging/social media/online background. What do you use, what do you love, and why?

Sona: Before I did the New School program and met Dhonielle, my day job was interviewing celebrities – from Hilary Duff to Priyanka Chopra. I was a writer at People, an editor at the dearly departed TeenPeople, and have since contributed to MSN TV,, TeenVogue, Cosmopolitan, The New York Times and other publications. I frequently write about books for,, and the BN Teen blog.

Lee: Now we want to hear about your journey so far with SCBWI!

Sona: I’ve been an SCBWI member for years – and I’ve been to the NYC conference and local events before. But this is my first LA conference. I’ve heard it’s intense, in the best way. Looking forward to meeting so many amazing people. Definitely join us at the WNDB Diversity Social if you can!

Lee: Yes! I'll be there, too. What project(s) are you currently working on?

Sona: The next book Dhonielle and I have coming out is called The Rumor Game – and it’s juicy and delicious! It’s due summer 2019 from Disney. I have a lot of other things cooking (that I’m super-excited about!!!), but I can’t talk about them just yet. As for CAKE, look for our next one, Love Sugar Magic, by Anna Meriano, via Walden/Harper in February 2018.

Lee: Can you tell us about your involvement with #WeNeedDiverseBooks?

Sona: The values of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement go hand in hand with those Dhonielle and I promote through CAKE, so we’ve both volunteered with the non-profit organization since 2014. I’m proud to serve as the head of content for WNDB – and we’ll be launching a new initiative to elevate diverse voices this fall. Look for our website relaunch at later this summer!

Lee: The top three things you're looking forward to about #LA17SCBWI are:

Sona: LEARNING! I’ve been in publishing now for five years, but I feel like when it comes to writing and publishing, you never stop learning.

CONNECTING! Kids’ book people are the best people. I’m such an introvert (so introduce yourself!), but I can’t wait to meet you guys.

SHARING! Need diverse book recs? I’ve got tons! Ask me what you should read next!

Lee: Thank you so much, Sona! We're delighted you'll be joining us!

Sona: So excited! See you soon!

Find Sona on Twitter @sona_c, and on the web at

You can find out more about The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators 2017 Summer Conference here.

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