Female First: 10 things authors Sonal Sachdev Patel & Jemma Wayne-Kattan want you to know about them
Sonal and Jemma are the co-authors of new children’s book Gita: The Battle of the Worlds. Based on a sacred Hindu text, it explores ideas of meditation and introspection, through a magical, fantastical adventure story. Here, the pair open up a little about themselves, so you can get to know them before you pick up a copy!
Sonal and Jemma first met over a serious game of Play Doh at nursery school when they were three years old, cementing their friendship over pliés at pre-school ballet classes. Since then they’ve been through primary school, senior school, and university together, and now see each other every day on the school run – their daughters go to school together too.
For the first few years of their friendship, Jemma was never quite sure if she was talking to Sonal, or Sonal’s twin sister Rupal. Now she can’t believe she ever couldn’t tell.
Sonal and Jemma used to utilise their Latin lessons by covering each other’s homework diaries with ‘deep’ wisdom about the world: ‘Why is life like a bath? The more you sit in it, the more wrinkles you get.’
Sonal signed the ketubah (a Jewish marriage contract) at Jemma’s Jewish wedding in Hertforshire. Jemma carried a diva candle and sat with Sonal beneath the mandap at Sonal’s wedding in India.
Sonal’s career began in finance, but when she became pregnant, she left that environment for philanthropy, motherhood, and more creative pursuits. Sonal has been meditating since the age of 11. She says it has guided her through exams, work stress and childbirth! She believes in teaching meditation to children to empower them from a young age.
Jemma’s writing career began at the age of 12 when her grandmother secretly sent off one of her poems and it was included in an anthology. Since then, career-wise there has been only writing – excepting a brief flirtation with politics, and an unfulfilled ambition to win an Olympic gold.
When Sonal decided she wanted to take a sacred Hindu text, the Gita, and create a book to help hers and all children access its messages in a modern, relatable way, she looked to life-long friend and writer Jemma. Jemma heard Sonal’s passion, she heard the sparks of a compelling story, and the rest is...well, it’s in the book.
Sonal and Jemma’s first ‘serious book-writing meeting’ took place in a Costa Coffee, and involved more coffee than serious writing. But the book soon took hold and became a labour of love between them.
Sonal was the source of Gita insight. Jemma took the lead on writing the text. Soumitra Ranade, an Indian animator and illustrator, took both and created a whole new layer to the tale.
Throughout the collaboration, and still, Sonal likes to send phone-typed email missives at one in the morning, when she is still up working on a hundred things at once. She managed to secure a publisher for the book via linked in during one of those late night sessions! Jemma prefers to send all work from her computer, where there is a big screen, and it still feels like writing. She cannot tell you if she is available for a meeting however without accessing her old school paper diary, which is only sometimes in her handbag.
GITA: The Battle of the Worlds by Sonal Sachdev Patel and Jemma Wayne-Kattan was published by Harper 360 on 12th July 2018 and is available in paperback to purchase from online retailers and order from all good bookstores.