Meet the author of Audrina’s 1st Tooth Party

Vanda Ayrapetyan, author of Audrina’s 1st Tooth Party

Vanda Ayrapetyan is not just an all-around fabulous human, but also a corporate banker who writes children’s books in her spare time. A force to be reckoned with, Ayrapetyan is filled with enthusiasm and zest for life. Her adorable children’s book Audrina’s 1st Tooth Party, which was published in 2020, offers life lessons and highlights a popular Armenian tradition with vivid illustrations.

Talar Keoseyan (T.K.): Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where were you born? What are your fondest childhood memories?

Vanda Ayrapetyan (V.A.): I was born in Vanadzor, Armenia. I’m very proud of that fact. I always go back and visit when I go to Armenia. I was only a year old when we emigrated to America. We settled in Hollywood and then the San Fernando Valley. I say I did my adulting on the east coast. I went to school at George Washington University and then went to New York. My parents were questioned by people since it wasn’t that common at that time. When I was on the east coast, I met so many people and learned about new cultures. I asked for a transfer back to Los Angeles, because I missed my family and the accessibility to Armenian culture. In DC and NY, you have to seek out Armenian culture. I missed having a piece of Armenia in a big city. I grew up in Hollywood in a building where everyone was Armenian, and we would play outside. My grandfather made us a table, and we would have picnics. We would go and bring things from our homes like tomatoes, cheese, bread, and this was our picnic. We connected personally. We were outside and had to use our imagination. During Christmas, we would have a visit from Santa Claus. It was our neighbor’s friend, and he would come on Christmas morning and would give us gifts that our parents had given him. They were such fond memories. My sister Ani and I loved those traditions. We also loved how our mom would take us on public transportation, and we would have field trips that always ended at the bookstore. She wanted us to have a love of books. She felt the magic of books and wanted us to experience that as well.

T.K.: What was your inspiration behind Audrina’s 1st Tooth Party?

V.A.: I’ve been in finance for the last 10 years. I always joke that if you get creative in finance, you would end up in jail. I’ve always had a creative streak in me, having grown up with the arts. I had a knack and a passion for storytelling. Children’s books have a lot of soul. I wanted to do storytelling but with children’s books, because it’s less inhibited. You can go wild with your imagination. I’ve always had dreams. In my twenties, I had a series of dreams, and I would see a very active child that had a passion for art. The name Audrina even came to me in a dream. The dream was the inspiration for the main character, and I wanted to infuse her love of art into the story. I was once talking with a friend about dreams that we have as youngsters and how we sometimes lose sight of them due to societal impositions. I used our tradition of atamhatik as an example; it’s as conditional as it gets. I thought I’m going to use the tradition of atamhatik with a whimsical angle and use the personification of the heart, who was this witty, sassy outspoken character. I wanted a cultural angle with my Armenian identity, but this topic could be impactful on a soul level to everyone.

Handmade Audrina character set by artist Tsovinar from Armenia

T.K.: How has the book been received by children? 

V.A.: It’s interesting when I do the readings, the children always gravitate to a character. For instance, Coco the dog is very relatable to children. Kids jump in and give their experiences with pets. The book contains primarily adult characters, but Audrina is the main character, as well as her heart and her sidekick Coco. It symbolizes innocence. Most adults come to an atamhatik with wanting the baby to choose something they want. I added Coco because he says that he just wants Audrina happy. The children love the heart and how the heart guides Audrina. The children love the characters and artwork, but adults get the message of the book. It took me four attempts to find an illustrator. I had to do character designs, and everything was from a color perspective. For example, Audrina’s purple dress represents transformation. She has a hummingbird on her dress. Every time I’ve had a major decision to make, a hummingbird has been present. The mother is wearing an Armenian pomegranate. The blocks spell HYE. The Armenian Genocide memorial flower is on an easel to pay homage to our history and ancestors, as well as represent a bridge for our younger generation not to forget their roots. There is a lot of symbolism. The grandparents are my parents, aged. Coco is Nanor Balabanian’s dog. I had the image of the dog drawn out and was going to name him Zeus. It wasn’t clicking. My friend sent me an Instagram story of Nanor and Coco. I sent Nanor a message and showed her the drawing. I asked if I could use the name, and she said yes.

Vanda Ayrapetyan at a book reading of Audrina’s 1st Tooth Party

T.K.: Are there any other books you’re thinking of writing?

V.A.: I have played the piano since childhood. I was at Ms. Vardui Baghdasaryan’s 25th anniversary concert. She was my teacher for many years. I realized that my parents gave me the gift of music. Music allows you to see the beauty in the world even amid destruction. The first story I had was with Audrina seeing music, and she would paint the piano keys in different colors. I’ve learned so much about human psychology in my travels. I want to remember the connections I’ve had. I’m also hoping to work on a collection of all the deeply impactful people that I’ve met. For me, it’s the power of the universe, God, that has me connecting to people. I like conversing with people, and it’s so limited nowadays. But if you’re open to it, God is sending you guidance. I have more stories to write about, not limited to Audrina.

T.K.: What advice would you give to someone wanting to publish?

V.A.: I’m very happy to mentor people through it. But be honest with yourself. What is your purpose or intent? If it’s for monetary reasons, forget it. I’ve done self publishing to have my personal and artistic expressions honored. I have a full time and demanding job as a corporate banker, but I would write at 3 a.m. or on the weekends. I wanted to create something that would leave a legacy. Creating something is so magical. It’s going to take a lot of time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It took me about a year of research. Reach out to people for guidance. Utilize other people’s research. Community is so important. Pay it forward. Be willing to help. It’s an exciting journey.

T.K.: Is there anything else you would like to share?

V.A.: Anyone can create. It’s a matter of expressing yourself. I never thought I would be in corporate banking. I wanted to be an international journalist or diplomat and do conflict resolution. But I’ve learned that you don’t get to have one label that defines you. You can be whatever you want. You have the magic to create whatever you want. I’ve met the most incredible people in my corporate career. You could do a balance. It took two years to complete my book. I took the time and enjoyed the journey. Don’t let one career define you. Show your layers.

Alen Margaryan (1999-2020)

I also want to add that the book is dedicated to one of our fallen soldiers, Alen Margaryan. Alen was only 21 years old when he died. He had a deep curious nature and had traveled to more than 21 countries. At the age of 19, he was teaching film at the TUMO Center and had volunteered with underprivileged children in Armenia’s villages. He was accepted to Boston University to major in sociology and education with the hopes of returning to Armenia. He was immortalized as a “Hero of Artsakh.”  

Ayrapetyan lives in Los Angeles and continues her job in corporate banking, while organizing local book readings for Audrina’s 1st Tooth Party.

Proceeds from the book have previously been donated to the Children of Armenia Fund for the construction of a new library in the village of Debet in Lori, Armenia. With matched employer funds, the donation reached $10,000.

Audrina’s 1st Tooth Party is available on Amazon and at Abril Books.

Talar Keoseyan

Talar Keoseyan

Talar Keoseyan is a mother, educator and writer. Talar’s book called Mom and Dad, Why Do I Need to Know My Armenian Heritage? is available on Amazon. Tigran’s Song is available at Abril Bookstore. She has been an educator for 25 years and resides in Los Angeles, CA. She can be reached at

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