…writes short stories and novels for young readers both Middle Grade and Young Adult. She has won awards, grants, and scholarships for her writing and has been recognized for service to the children’s book-writing community. In addition, she has served as a YA/MG reader for a leading literary agency and taught creative writing at her local university. When she isn’t writing, you can find her painting (she is also a fine artist), gardening, reading, or traveling through worlds both real and imagined. She lives with her husband in southern California and Arizona.

Rilla grew up in an India of mango lassi and apple pie, parrot greens and pale pastels, heel-pounding bharatnatyam and tiptoe ballet, and…yes! Being biracial/bi-cultural was terribly confusing a lot of the time. All right, most of the time. But in books, she found belonging; in fairy tale realms of fantasy, she could be someone real. After immigrating to the US for higher education and a misguided foray into a career as a professor of finance, she returned to her first love—books of fantasy, adventure, and inclusion, this time as their creator. She writes for young readers who yearn to belong, be seen, be valued, be the hero who saves the world!

Since you asked for more!
Spoiler Alert: Baby pictures and Silliness abound—


…the capital city of the largest democracy on the planet with two irrefutable signs of greatness–untameable hair and a permanent frown.

Right from the beginning, my brother tortured me…but I learned to fight back. Watch out for my lethal flyswatter! (Perseverance is key to being a writer and I learned fast.)

By my first brithday, I had a few likes sorted out. Cake was not one of them. I HATED CAKE–period! Pass the bread, please.

I couldn’t stand dresses either. (Remember that permanent frown?)

But, I was perfectly happy being in the entertainment business, especially when it included famous people.

With Indira Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India, and Zakir Husain, former President of India

In my tween/teen/YA years, I was a confused introvert who found it easier to face the world from behind stage footlights or retreat from it altogether. And so, I acted and sang,

Playing Yum Yum in The Mikado—performance by the Hyderabad Savoyards


Performing Indian classical Bharatnatyam

…and was just about the biggest bookworm, ever. 

Bookworm head from the Berea College Library entry
to the Labor Day parade, 1982

Get a load of my honking, ginormous glasses. That’s what comes of reading with a flashlight under a blanket, or more often than not…forgetting the flashlight altogether. (How do you explain needing that many batteries to the parents?)     


I read Enid Blyton and Georgette Heyer behind the locked doors of a bathroom, Victoria Holt and Barbara Cartland under the bedcovers, Charles Dickens, Tagore, and Shakespeare in the living room, Rosemary Sutcliff and JRR Tolkien under the lid of my desk at school, Tintin and Amar Chitra Katha tucked between the pages of a textbook while “doing homework.” 

I read to be someone–someone who could fight dragons and win, solve crimes, have adventures, fall in love, fly.


My brother grabbed all the looks and smarts and height the family genes had on offer. (Did I mention he was witty, too?) So, when my hair stopped standing straight up on my head, I convinced myself I wasn’t destined for greatness, after all.

Shakuntala from the Indian mythological series—Amar Chitra Katha


Yup. Like any teenager, I was drowning in drama and addled by angst.

Now, centuries later, living with my husband amongst the mountains and fruit trees of Southern California, I have discovered there was a purpose for all that reading and all that angst (not the permanent frown, though). Without them, I couldn’t write fiction for young readers on their own quest to find Wonder and a place to belong.

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