'This felt important to me': Divya Srinivasan on her new book, 'Little Owl's Love'
Austin author and illustrator Divya Srinivasan has just released Little Owl’s Love, the fourth in her Little Owl series of children’s books. Srinivasan says that, unlike the first three, Little Owl’s Love began with a suggestion from her longtime editor.
“I had come up with the ideas for the first three books,” she says. “And my editor, when they said that they wanted to do another Little Owl book, she told me immediately, ‘I have an idea.’”
Hesitant at first – “because I’m kind of possessive of this little guy,” she says with a laugh – Srinivasan heard her editor out and was surprised to be delighted and intrigued by the idea to center a book around the concept of Little Owl’s love. “And she immediately said, ‘It’s not about him getting married or finding a mate. Just what does Little Owl love?’” Srinivasan recalls.
“And just that prompt – it was so open and fun just to think about,” Srinivasan says. “And then I got to just think about love. What are the different feelings? What do we love? And what would this character love? And I hadn’t really thought about those things… so it was really fun to do for this one.”
Much of the work for Little Owl’s Love was done during the height of the pandemic, and the book drew some inspiration from feelings Srinivasan experienced during that time. “One of the themes with the Little Owl series is finding something new and exciting in the familiar,” she says. “I did this book and a lot of my thinking was during the pandemic. My daughter and I, we would take walks in our neighborhood – the same walks over and over again. And it would definitely get boring, but it was also good to be outside. And then this place that was so familiar, we’d find ‘Oh my gosh, we’ve never turned this way. I don’t know we haven’t turned [down] this route.’ And we would discover this whole other part. And it was just in this subdivision! It was not like out in the country or something. It was in this suburban, planned community. But still there was nature, and I think that that’s where I saw my first owl out in nature, in the world. It was strange to me that this place… the suburbs aren’t supposed to be very exciting, but even there we found something new. So then we started looking for that owl, or listening for it.”
Srinivasan says that she only recently realized that that feeling was a recurring theme in the Little Owl books. “I guess a theme throughout the books has been loving the familiar, or being so confident and feeling cozy in it, but then even in the familiar being able to find things that surprise you,” she says. “I was thinking about it today [and] that’s been a running theme throughout the books. Definitely not something I’d planned, but it has been a running theme. [But] I only realized it today!”
Going back to the memory of her pandemic walks with her daughter, Srinivasan says “We would talk about trips that we had taken, my daughter and I would. And it was almost a little bit painful for me because I was like… ‘when will we be able to do that again?’ And we did end up, the next year, doing two road trips to California and back. But then it was always when we came back, that feeling of turning the corner and getting back to your street. Loving to go away and then loving to come back to the familiar again. This felt important to me.”