This is such a fun story that required me to actually pause and think because Math isn’t my strength. What inspired you to write this story?
My family has always been a fan of math puzzles, both when I was a kid and later when I became a parent. My son, in particular, loved music and math from when he was very little. So he was my inspiration for writing a picture book involving a math puzzle and featuring a main character who loves music and math.
The Author’s Note is really informative. What type of research did you do for this book?
I researched the history of binary numbers, but the math was already something I knew. The biggest challenge was to break down the concept of binary numbers in a way that made it understandable to those who aren’t familiar with this concept.
Was math your favorite subject?
I would say it was tied with science...and English...and history...and French. I liked school a LOT.
I liked how Bhagat set out to be a musician for the rajah, but something totally unexpected happened instead just when you think all is lost. It’s a great reminder, especially for children, that they possess more than one strength or gift. Tell us how that idea came about and if there were many revisions.
When I first drafted this book, I had Bhagat succeed at becoming a singer for the rajah. But I put this story away for nearly a year, and when I went back to it and revised, I changed the ending. I think this ending occurred to me because I’ve always felt like I had a foot in different worlds...especially as a doctor who writes books for kids. Am I good at science, or at writing? As it turns out, for me the answer is that I’m good at both—and the same is true for everyone, especially kids. Sometimes we can surprise ourselves with our varied talents, and all the different ways in which we can succeed and be happy.
Since the pandemic authors haven’t been able to have normal launch parties. What did you do to celebrate the release of Seven Golden Rings?
I had a virtual launch party with a wonderful local bookstore, the Silver Unicorn Bookstore in Acton, MA!
What are you working on next?
I have five books publishing in 2021! My next book is a middle grade novel in verse, RED, WHITE, AND WHOLE, with Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins in February 2021. It’s set in 1983 and tells the story of 13-year-old Reha, the daughter of Indian immigrants in a small Midwestern city, who feels torn between the world of her parents and community and her school and 1980's pop culture. Then her mother falls ill, and she’s torn in a different way. It’s a story that involves immigration and assimilation, Hindu mythology and 80's pop music, holding on and letting go.
What's the one piece of advice that has helped you as a writer?
Learn how to find the heart of your story. Then, when other people—your critique partners, your agent, or editor—give you feedback, see how this holds up to your intentions for the story. You are the author, and you get to decide what to change in order to serve your story.
Rajani LaRocca was born in India, raised in Kentucky, and now lives in the Boston area with her wonderful family and impossibly cute dog. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, she spends her time writing novels and picture books when she’s not practicing medicine. Her middle grade debut, Midsummer’s Mayhem (Yellow Jacket/Little Bee Books), an Indian-American mashup of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and competitive baking, was an Indies Introduce selection, an Indie Next pick, a Kirkus Best Middle Grade Book of 2019, and a 2020 Massachusetts Book Award Honor title. Her debut picture book, Seven Golden Rings: A Tale of Music and Math (Lee & Low Books, October 2020) is set in ancient India and involves a math puzzle and an explanation of binary numbers.
If you’d like to learn more about Rajani LaRocca please visit her social media links below!