Jo Sandhu is the author of the children’s book ‘Tarin of the Mammoths’. This is the first story in a series published by Penguin Random House. Jo was so inspiring when she told the honest story of her writing journey at this year’s Children and Young Adult Authors Conference that I had to know more. Her story was even more remarkable because she had come so close to giving up on her dream. When her mother’s health declined and Jo became a full time carer her writing dream had to be put on hold for a while and it seemed it might be all too hard. I spoke to Jo to find out more about her inspirational story.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a full-time writer and also a full-time carer for my mother, who has a neurological condition called Multiple System Atrophy. I’m married with two boys, who are currently both at University, but they both come home at weekends. My first book was published this year. ‘Tarin of the Mammoths’ is a children’s adventure set during the last Ice Age, about 30 000 years ago and it traces the story of Tarin’s quest to save his clan. It is suitable for readers 8- 12 years old.
2. What did you want to be when you were a child?
A fighter pilot. Really!
3. What are you most proud of?
Besides my boys and my first book? I’m proud of creating a welcoming home that both sides of the family gravitate to, especially at Christmas. We have several nationalities and several different religions spread all over the world, and they join us for nearly two weeks over Christmas. It has become a Family Reunion and we do it every year.They say they come for my cheesecake.
4. Which person inspires you most?
It’s difficult to pinpoint one person. I think the kind of woman who inspires me is very calm and confident .They are wise.They are comfortable in their own skins. They embrace life and whatever is thrown at them with gratitude and joy. They acknowledge they are only human and are uncritical of others. Actually, that’s my friend Nicole. She has the most inspirational blog called ‘Cauldrons and Cupcakes’.
5. What has been a life changing moment for you?
Two main ones. My mother’s health crisis, of course. I put a lot of my plans on hold and certainly don’t regret that, but it meant my life changed dramatically. The second is the day I received an email from Penguin Random House saying they were interested in buying my book. All of a sudden I was no longer a hobby writer whose time was very flexible, but a writer with deadlines and responsibilities and future plans. It was a whole new world.
6. What drives you?
My family- my husband and my boys.
7. What has been the biggest lesson you have learnt (in life and business)?
In life? I can’t solve everyone’s problems for them. Sometimes they have to solve their own. In business? Persistence, definitely. If you are a writer, you need to develop a thick skin, because you get so many rejections and so many setbacks. You have to remember not to take it personally, because what may not appeal to one publisher may just be the best story in the world to another. You have to keep going through all the rejections and so many setbacks. Have faith in your ability and tell the story in a way no one else can. It took me ten years to finally hold a copy of ‘Tarin of the Mammoths’. That’s from the first rough draft to publication day.
8. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Grade 3 doesn’t last forever. The reasoning was; everybody hates Grade 3 but you get through it. So, no matter how bad a situation is it won’t last forever.
9. Quote to live by?
Let it go! Let it go! (You need to sing it.)
10. Top 3 Bucket List Items?
Travel is a big one for me. I’ve been fortunate to see a lot of the world, but there is so much more to explore. I’d like to do a river cruise in Europe. There are some Palaeolithic sites in Russia I’m very keen to visit. Peru and Machu Picchu have always fascinated me.
11. What’s next for you?
‘Clan of Wolves’, Book 2 in the ‘Tarin of the Mammoth’ series comes out this month. Book 3, Cave Bear Mountain, is out next March. I’m also working on a new trilogy.
12. What is the key to your happiness?
Time with my husband and boys. Absolutely. And time alone. I’m such an introvert. I need a certain amount of solitude to function.
13. Favourite Coffee Shops
That’s tricky my favourite barista John has moved to Botanica Café in Moorooka. I’ll have to change my usual route as his coffee is worth travelling for. My second is Riverbend Books in Bulimba-books and coffee. A win -win situation. Third I’m going to recommend TeaVine House in Tallebudgera. This is such a pretty, pretty place for a special occasion. It gives me a chance to wallow amongst delicate china cups and lace doilies, and they do a scrummy gluten free High Tea.
Jo Sandhu’s second book in the ‘Tarin of the Mammoth’ series- Clan of Wolves’ has just been released. Her inspiring writing journey has taken time, persistence and lots of hard work. There have been many twists and turns along the way but Jo’s perseverance has paid off and that is why SheInspires.