Please join me in welcoming my newest client, Rilla Jaggia, to the KT Literary family! Rilla was the recipient of an SCBWI scholarship sponsored by KT Literary several years ago, and it was during this time that I first had the privilege of reading her #ownvoices YA fantasy, MARK OF THE LOTUS. Fast forward several years, and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to read her YA contemporary SANDALWOOD AND STONE, an #ownvoices story that at its heart explores themes of racial and cultural identity and family loyalty versus following one’s heart, all woven together with artistic elements and gorgeous prose.
All seventeen-year old Saraswati has ever wanted to do is paint. But Papa dreams of her working toward a real career in computer science, so her illicit art is relegated to the time she can steal away from studies. That is, until she discovers her parents have arranged for her to leave India and live in California with an American host-family for her last year of high school. Accompanied by Papa’s gift, a sandalwood carving of her namesake, the goddess of education, she travels to America–her mother’s homeland. In the States, her sculptor host-father shortens her name to Sara and encourages her to follow her heart. He gives her art lessons and gifts her a stone carving of the goddess emphasizing the deity’s dual role as patron of creativity and the arts. Torn between sandalwood and stone, Sara struggles to stand up to her domineering father. And ultimately she’s faced with a choice – comply with his request to return to the supposed safety of her family back in India and forego her one true passion, or follow her heart and risk losing his love and support forever.
Rilla Jaggia grew up in India, hid behind locked doors to paint, and emigrated to the US at eighteen to work toward her own father’s dream for her—a Ph.D. in a real subject. In addition to being award the KT Literary scholarship, Rilla was the 2015 SCBWI Sue Alexander Manuscript Award runner-up and was previously awarded an SCBWI WIP Grant for Multicultural Manuscripts underwritten by Amazon for SANDALWOOD AND STONE.