Author Teresa Robeson Presents: WHO IS TIBET’S EXILED LEADER: The 14th Dalai Lama + a chance to win a copy

Today it is my great pleasure to feature the latest book from award-winning author TERESA ROBESON. WHO IS TIBET’S EXILED LEADER: The 14th Dalai Lama is a slight departure from Teresa’s previous picture books since it is a graphic novel that tells the story of Tibet’s exiled leader the 14th Dalai Lama.

Here is my review for the book:

This graphic novel tells the important historical account of the leader of TIBET, THE 14TH Dalai Lama, who was forced into exile in 1959 by the People’s Liberation Army of China. Tibet’s “Precious Protector’s” harrowing escape is easy to read and understand thanks to the graphic format and the periodic history and cultural lessons sprinkled throughout the story. The book provides a summary of Tibet’s ongoing fight for freedom and autonomy. A perfect addition to a multicultural library.

dalai lama Here is my interview with Teresa and her exciting new book.

How did you come to write this story about the exiled Dalai Lama?

My agent at the time spotted a call on Twitter from an editor with Penguin Workshop’s Who HQ series for authors to write graphic format biographies. She asked if I’d be interested in trying out for it, and of course I said yes! Penguin gave us a short list of people to write a proposal for, and I chose Bruce Lee. When they accepted that proposal, they asked if I wanted to write about anyone else on a longer list that they showed me. From that, I chose the Dalai Lama. I could have chosen more, but there were no scientists on that list and I’m not interested in sports figures or the other historical figures they offered.

What were the challenges of writing the “precious protectors” story as a graphic novel? How do you like this format?

The main challenge of writing this book is learning a whole new writing form. I’ve never written graphic novel scripts, or any script, before and had to learn the convention as well as thinking in panels. Luckily, I’ve been reading comics and graphic novels from the time I started reading (because comics are hugely popular in Asia) and also already tend to visualize everything I write like a movie running in my head, so it wasn’t a huge stretch to picture the story that way.

I don’t read comics as often as I used to but I do enjoy the format a lot because I’m somewhat of a visual person.

Tell us a bit about the research involved in this story.

The research wasn’t any different from writing my other nonfiction and biographical prose books. I always start with looking at all the kids’ books on the topic and use the back matter in those to branch out to adult books and journal articles. The key is to go to reliable sources and try to get as close to primary sources as possible.

What message do you want readers to take away from the story?

I want readers to see His Holiness’s humanity, humility, and humor. Beneath his assigned role as the political and spiritual leader of Tibet, he is just like the rest of us, with human frailties and foibles. His is not an easy position to be born into but he’s accepted it with grace and uses his celebrity status to spread the idea and ideals of compassion.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Unlike regular prose, the compressed graphic format of this Who HQ series necessitates inventing some dialogue, scenes, and, occasionally, characters to keep the story moving smoothly. As a nonfiction author, I’d personally call it historical fiction but these books are categorized as nonfiction. I tried to stay true to the actual events/scenes, characters, and even dialogue, though paraphrased, in this book on the Dalai Lama. In the upcoming one on Bruce Lee, which covers a wider span of time, a lot more dialogue and even settings have had to be invented. It makes purists uncomfortable (as it does me), but in the end, if a child gets the gist and spirit of someone’s life without demonizing or idolizing the person, then I think these books will have done a good job.

As a writer of historical fiction myself, I respect that distinction Teresa. Would you do more graphic format books in the future?

I would like to! But I think I want to try both writing and illustrating instead of just writing. And, I want to do non-biographical nonfiction (specifically science) as well as fiction in the graphic format.

Thanks so much for this interview, Darlene!

It’s been a pleasure Teresa!

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Teresa Robeson (pronouns: she/her)

Author (agent: Tracy Marchini, Bookends Literary)

Teresa has agreed to give away a signed copy of her book to one lucky reader. Please leave a comment below and one name will be drawn at random from all those entered. The winner will be announced later this month. USA only please.


16 thoughts on “Author Teresa Robeson Presents: WHO IS TIBET’S EXILED LEADER: The 14th Dalai Lama + a chance to win a copy

  1. This is such a fantastic format for a biography. Now even more readers will be attracted to nonfiction. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

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