We’re pleased to welcome author Padma Venkatraman, whose every novel I have found delightful. Her perspectives as a world citizen and an oceanographer and a person who cares fervently about children’s well-being give a powerful depth to her writing. We asked Padma to answer the Skinny Dip questions that appealed to her:
How many bookcases do you have in your house?
Ten! But that’s not enough to fit all our books, so our house (unless I clean up before guests arrive), resembles the protagonist’s home in The Library (by Sarah Stewart and David Small)!
What’s the predominant color in your wardrobe?
Red is my favorite color for clothing, but not for anything else (definitely not inside homes or for cars, for example).
Which library springs to your mind when someone says that word? What do you remember most about it?
The library in a house by the ocean, called Saradindu, which I thought about when I wrote Climbing the Stairs. I loved the way sunlight would slip in through the windows, I loved the sound of the sea outside, I loved the musty odor of the books, and I loved how many books there were — rows upon rows of books, all along the walls, floor to ceiling, so you had to climb a stepladder to reach the books on the top shelf.
What’s your food weakness?
Lebkuchen (a gingerbread delicacy which is served around Christmas time in Germany) — so long as it is not too sweet and it’s dipped in dark chocolate on one side, with an apricot jam-like filling and a white wafer on the other side. I could eat oodles of them.
What’s your favorite form of exercise?
Yoga indoors every morning on weekdays, Hiking and canoeing when it’s warm and sunny outdoors on weekends and holidays.
What’s your favorite flower?
The lotus (and I am realizing as I write this answer, that this might be might be subliminally narcissistic because Padma means Lotus in Sanskrit — but you said to be honest and write the first thing that comes to mind, so there you go)!
Have you traveled outside of the United States? Which country is your favorite to visit? Why?
I’ve lived in four countries outside the United States: India, England, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates. I’ve traveled to many more. I suppose my favorite country to visit is India, because I still have family and old friends back there, and it not only has (in my opinion) the best vegan cuisine and the music that I most enjoy (live instrumental Carnatic music — which is sort of the soundtrack for A Time to Dance in my head), but also the most spectacular sunshine. I think the sun shines more brightly on the sands and seas of an Indian beach than anywhere else in the world.
Who’s your favorite artist?
Who’s at the top of your list of Most Admired People?
My daughter again.
What are your favorite pizza toppings?
Pineapple chunks and hot peppers.
Do you remember your dreams?
Yes, and when I get to the end of a novel, I usually dream the dreams of my characters, and so my dreams help me write.
What foreign language would you like to learn?
Sanskrit (which I sort of learned, but not really), so I could read the Upanishads and the Vedas.
If you had a choice, would you live under the ocean or in outer space, and why?
Outer space, because I’ve already spent some time (though, admittedly, not a whole lot of time) under the ocean. Plus, I’d rather see stars than sea-stars when I look outside my window.
If you had one wish, what would you wish for?
That no child would ever have to suffer hunger, violence or homelessness, like the four children in The Bridge Home. And that every child would be able to form friendships as strong as the bonds between the four in The Bridge Home.