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About Me


I have the audacity to write for children without having any of my own. What I do have is one of those dreary multicultural backgrounds--I grew up in India and recently moved back to the United States after five years in Sydney, Australia. The resulting crisis of identity infects all of my writing.


No Pets, Please!
Los Angeles Times Kids' Reading Room,
Jan. 25, 2009

Tamarind Rice
sold to Highlights for Children, March 2008

Blue Space Pajamas
Los Angeles Times Kids' Reading Room,
Nov. 11, 2007

Interview with Leonard Marcus
Kite Tales, Winter 2012

Interview with Arthur A. Levine
Kite Tales, Summer 2009

Interview with Michael Stearns
Kite Tales,Spring 2009

As of January 2009, I assumed the post of editor of Kite Tales, the newsletter for the SCBWI Tri-regions of Southern California.


Sandalwood and Stone
Contemporary YA
Winner of the 2010 SCBWI Mulitcultural WIP Award
Writing Contest, SCBWI-LA Writer's Day 2012, YA, 2nd Place

The Initiate's Daughter
Middle Grade Fantasy
Highlights Foundation Whole Novel Workshop for Fantasy 2010

July 14th, 2011 Italy | Siena | TravelRant

62--Tuscan Holiday Parte Seconda: Siena

This post is dedicated to my dear friend — Marilyn Donahue.

Her passionate accounts of Siena made it a must-see destination for us. In fact, we made it our hub for other forays into the Tuscan countryside. And aren’t we glad we did!

Siena, as Marilyn promised, makes quite the statement.

On the skyline…,

Siena Cathedral devours the horizon!

…and around every corner.

The Siena Town Hall that looms high over the large town square–Il Campo

Quirkily contemporary…,

They sure are…

…in love with…

…kitschy lights!

…through the ages…,

The ceiling of an inner chapel of the Cathedral.

…and for the future.

Kill the car, Plant a tree!

Common platter…,

It’s clear which nationality tourists this restaurant hopes to attract!

…and haute cuisine…,

Buffalo mozzarella and zucchini flowers stuffed with truffles

that our buddy came down from London to experience. (And you thought he’d come to visit with us. Humph!)


What he thought he was taking:

Too good to forget

What he got. Too bad it wasn’t just desserts.

Popular folk arts and crafts…,

How much is that poppy in the window, the one with the glorious smile?

Candle makers at work and loving it!

…or Renaissance grandeur at its peak.

Fancy lord prancing in a fresco in the Cathedral!

Sometimes that statement needs a little deciphering…,

The sign for tourists at the “panorama” climb from the Museum

Illuminated choir hymnal from the Siena Cathedral Museum.

…while at others, it needs no explanation.

The view of Siena and surrounding hills from aforesaid panorama point that definitely needs its own timeout

Inside Siena’s amazing cathedral

Sometimes the statement is folksy and cozy…,

I love how European restaurants are so welcoming of people and their pets!

…and at other times utterly chilling.

The floors of the Cathedral depict the Slaughter of the Innocents, a strangely popular theme for painting of the time. Dead babies? Ugh. Not my cup of tea. I want them alive and reading my books, thank you very much!

The basilica of San Domenico has the preserved head of Saint Catherine (no kidding, we saw it) the patron saint of Siena and has had it on display for centuries!

At the end of the day with so many statements, all that food…,

Rare pigeon-meat anyone?

…and after all that climbing…,

All ways lead UP to the duomo on the hill

…we were exhilarated, stuffed, and dead beat.

Weary wanderers seek water and wayrest

Though not quite as dead as this guy.

Victim of a cage in the Siena Torture Museum

Thank goodness!

In fact, after a wonderful farm stay we were up and about for another day in Tuscany.

Thank you again, Marilyn! Here’s wishing you a speedy return to sunny Siena πŸ™‚

P. S. Happy Bastille Day to one and all. May your revolution be successful…and bloodless πŸ˜›

14 comments to 62–Tuscan Holiday Parte Seconda: Siena

  • Really great pictures. Good to see you again.

  • Maira Tortilla

    Wow! Wow! Wow! What awesome pics! I feel like I just took a whirlwind vacay from my computer chair! Siena is gorgeous!!! Is that a dog really snoozing on the restaurant table??? Like the Poe-esque pic at the end. Real skeleton??? YIKES! I’ll pass on the haute cuisine, but bring on the desserts!!! Thanks for sharing. So much fun to look at! πŸ™‚

  • Mithu Mundul

    Hey Rilla, that was a ‘xilliating’ walk with you down Tusany! Super pics, and truly enjoyable comments too. Thx for sending me the post, and keep me on your list of favorite viewers. The guest from London seems to have enjoyed every inch of the vacation.

  • What? No photo of Catherine’s head?

  • These photos are fantastic, Rilla. You have such a great eye. Wish I had your photos in my iPhoto library. Amazing stuff. What a wonderful trip. I love how you dedicated this post to the marvelous Marilyn. How cool. This is such an enjoyable post. Happy B day. Just found out about the heads rolling. Yikes!

  • mariyn donahue

    Rilla, what a joy is is to be able to revisit Siena just by looking at your pictures. When I look at them, I feel like I am there again. I can feel the sun on my back, smell the flowers, taste the food, walk once again through the cathedral and on . . . and on . . .

  • I visited Siena last summer. The first evening, we wandering into the Town Hall and were lucky to find a free classical music concert happening in the courtyard. Enchanting. I visited a few medieval cities in France as well last year. Wonderful photos, Rilla.

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