Welcome to our Writers Wednesday Spotlight! Each week we will be highlighting a different geeky writer we think you might like to check out. For this week’s spotlight, we are excited to introduce you to Suneet Bhatt!
His book “Today’s the Day! (A Dream Village Story)” was just released on June 1, 2018!
You can purchase “Today’s the Day! (A Dream Village Story) “ here.
About “Today’s the Day! (A Dream Village Story)”…
Juliet and Siona, BFFs, have been waiting for this day for two whole years. Read the powerful story of two friends and their experiences on either side of hair donation. Meet their families and discover the challenges and inspiring moments that lead to the ultimate gift in an undeniably beautiful and special friendship.
Dream Village’s fourth book tackles important topics like cancer, healthcare, school attendance, and bullying in a visually stunning and accessible way, enabling conversations between kids and grownups in all environments. The conversation and journey continues on the Dream Village website, where kids and grownups can learn more about the topics presented in the book and find opportunities to take action and do something about the topics that inspire them.
100% of the proceeds from the sale of Today’s the Day are donated to relevant nonprofit organizations based on the votes cast by readers on the Dream Village website.
5 Questions with . . . Suneet Bhatt
- When did you first realize you were interested in becoming an author? What drives you to write?
I’ve always enjoyed writing. I’m not sure I consider myself an author as much as someone who’s been inspired to take some true, existing stories and translate them into a format that’s accessible, enjoyable, and educational for kids. I don’t want it to come across as false humility. I document and translate stories. What real authors do is so much more consuming, creative.
The specific idea for Dream Village came from the work I did for GlobalGiving in 2007 on their charitable gift card program. GlobalGiving is an international development marketplace. If you want to make a donation to women’s reproductive rights in India, you can go to GlobalGiving, search by region or by topic, find a project you love, and then donate directly to the organization. It’s incredible. I helped them launch their giving card program where people were buying and granting donation rights to other people. If you received a $25 giving card from GlobalGiving that meant you had the right to visit their site and donate $25 to any project you chose. One of the biggest use cases when we launched the program was grownups buying these giving cards and sitting with the kids in their life to visit the website, choose a project, and ultimately, make a donation together.
One of the challenges? All of the content used to educate donors on the causes was geared toward adults, but there was nothing for kids. Which is where I got the idea for Dream Village: what if we told these true stories in a way that would engage kids? From there, the business model and mission of Dream Village was built. We say Dream Village is where Kids Build Better Tomorrows, and we anchor ourselves in helping kids do three things: 1) Learn about important global issues, 2) Vote for where we donate our proceeds, and 3) Do something to help advance a cause they read about, whether it’s plan their own fundraiser or educate their peers and community on the subject.
- How would you describe your style or genre of writing to a potential fan?
The feedback we’ve received generally highlights a few points, which relate to your question. First, we find a way to make really big, important topics — some that others may find intimidating — accessible to kids of all ages, without sugar coating or glossing over. If I’m proud of anything it’s been our ability to tackle the global water crisis (Saved by the Well), materialism and respect for all things (Just Shoes), and now, pediatric cancer and bullying (Today’s the Day).
The second point that we hear fairly consistently is that we’ve created books that work at different layers and therefore, are relevant to kids aged 3-8, with some room on either side. Younger kids can grasp the concepts at a high-level. As kids get older, the engagement shifts from awareness to questions, where the books turn into a springboard about much bigger topics, and often, prompt a desire for the kids to get involved and do more. The last thing that’s worth highlighting is that we are focused on balancing the online and offline worlds. We tell true stories, which is why we blend together photography and illustration. We also want kids to leverage the web to find ways to dig deeper into each story and then bring that inspiration offline and into real life, where ideally kids are taking action and doing things to advance the causes that have inspired them.
- What are you currently working on? What are you working on next?
This is a passion project for me. Right now, I’m working to find corporate and nonprofit sponsors for each of the books as a way to increase the scale of their impact. We’re still giving away 100% of profits. I self-fund the illustration and production of each book and take nothing back in return, while also, looking for ways to underwrite our next books.
- What existing book do you wish you had written and why?
I’d say the book I wish I had written was Danny the Champion of the World. Roald Dahl is easily my favorite writer. He creates worlds and experiences that are fantastica. Yet this is perhaps his most mundane (in a good way) and realistic book. It also focuses on the relationship between a father and son. My father died in February and I’ve been thinking about this book a lot since then. I wish I would have written it, and I wish I would have done so as a tribute to my father. For now, I’ve got my heart and mind wrapped around a different story for him, and I look forward to the time and space to bring that concept to life in his honor and memory.
- What is one piece of advice you would give to a budding writer?
Start. Share. Keep your motivation in mind. Write like mad. There are so many reasons to stop. There are so many reasons to wait to publish. There are so many reasons to not finish. Lay fire to all the nots in pursuit of your primary motivation. We live in a time where it’s never been easier to share your story, or the story you care about, with the world. Do not, let the nots, have a say.