Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Showcase - Q&A with Sonali Dev - A Change of Heart

I'm so happy to present to you a new to me author whose latest novel, A Change of Heart is one that really intrigues me and I can't wait to read. I hope after you learn more about both author and book you'll feel the same.

ISBN-13: 9781496705747
Publisher: Kensignton
Release Date: 09-27-2016
Length: 352 pp
Buy It: B&N/Amazon/Kobo/IndieBound/Audible


“A rising talent.” —Booklist
Dr. Nikhil 'Nic' Joshi had it all—marriage, career, purpose. Until, while working for Doctors Without Borders in a Mumbai slum, his wife, Jen, discovered a black market organ transplant ring. Before she could expose the truth, Jen was killed.
Two years after the tragedy, Nic is a cruise ship doctor who spends his days treating seasickness and sunburn and his nights in a boozy haze. On one of those blurry evenings on deck, Nic meets a woman who makes a startling claim: she received Jen’s heart in a transplant and has a message for him. Nic wants to discount Jess Koirala’s story as absurd, but there’s something about her reckless desperation that resonates despite his doubts.
Jess has spent years working her way out of a nightmarish life in Calcutta and into a respectable Bollywood dance troupe. Now she faces losing the one thing that matters—her young son, Joy.  She needs to uncover the secrets Jen risked everything for; but the unforeseen bond that results between her and Nic is both a lifeline and a perilous complication.
Delving beyond the surface of modern Indian-American life, acclaimed author Sonali Dev’s page-turning novel is both riveting and emotionally rewarding—an extraordinary story of human connection, bravery, and hope.  

Q&A Provided by 

A Q&A with Sonali Dev,
author of A Bollywood Affair, The Bollywood Bride &
A Change of Heart

What inspires your writing?
I grew up in Mumbai, which is nothing if not a hot bed of stories waiting around every corner. I mean, textures, sounds, smells, emotion, it actually thrums through the air there. And then there’s my family. A grandmother who was a doctor back when the British still ruled India and a majority of women were still illiterate, a father who spent months in a Pakistani prisoner-of-war camp, a great grandmother who was a poet and died of a broken heart, a grandmother who tucked me into her side every afternoon and waxed eloquent about ‘that Mr. Rochester.’ My childhood was seeped in stories with many great storytellers who loved to color it all in with opinion and interpretation.
And all this was before I moved across the world and found myself surrounded by an array of characters so drastically different and yet so fundamentally similar. The short answer? The world around me is where I get my ideas from.

What inspired A CHANGE OF HEART in particular?
Nikhil and Jen were major secondary characters in The Bollywood Bride, which was a book that lived inside my head for many years before it was published, and Nikhil and Jen’s story was always one I knew I was going to write. But Nic and Jen both worked in some of the most disturbed and dangerous parts of the world, they constantly put themselves at risk for their cause.  When I started writing their story, the risks just caught up with them. It happened without me meaning for it to. Then I got obsessed with the idea of healing from unspeakable loss and with the privilege of being able to say things like “I could never live without x, y, or z,” and what happens when we lose a belief so basic. That’s where A Change Of Heart came from.

For those readers who may not know, can you explain the Bollywood setting of your books?
Geographically, a large portion of my books play out here in America although my characters tend to romp across the globe. The Bollywood Bride is set in Chicago, Mumbai, India, and Bristol, England. A Bollywood Affair takes place in Ypsilanti, MI, which is a small university town adjoining Ann Arbor, and in Mumbai. A Change of Heart starts out on a Caribbean cruise ship and then hops from Miami to Chicago to Mumbai.
Character wise, my protagonists usually work in Bollywood, which is the popular term used to refer to the Indian film industry housed in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). In terms of number of films made per year and fan-base, Bollywood is the largest film industry in the world. 

In The Bollywood Bride, Ria is a Bollywood star. In A Bollywood Affair, Samir is a Bollywood director. And in A Change Of Heart, Jess is a Bollywood chorus dancer. So we do get to visit this world from the inside not just from the glamorous starry side but also from the grittier underbelly.
The third piece of my setting is the style. I see my books as written in the 'Bollywood style' reminiscent of the large sweeping family sagas Bollywood tends to make. A wide-angled shot of what I see as the essence of being Indian. It’s the dramatic, just this side of melodramatic. It’s families that have no boundaries, no concept of privacy, love that makes choruses burst in your head. It’s beautiful people in beautiful places, but also the smell of the most wretched sewers. It hops around the world but is tied to the traditions of an ancient land. It’s the clash of the oldest culture in the world warring with the most modern values. 

What has your writing journey been like?
I’m one of those writers who didn’t discover her love for writing suddenly or serendipitously. I’ve written and loved to write for as long as I can remember. But making a life as a writer was one of those dreams that somehow always seemed like a pie in the sky. And in retrospect, I have no idea why. So while I went to architectural school so I could have a ‘real’ career, I continued to pursue my ‘hobby’. But the need to write was so strong I found myself quitting my job at my architectural firm to work for an architectural magazine within months of graduating.

So, really, for me the true journey was going from business writing and journalism to fiction. And that flip happened over the phone when I was talking to my best friend who is a movie producer. She was complaining about the scripts she’d been reading and we both said, ‘Well, how hard can it be to write a good movie?’ Famous last words, right?

I wrote my first script for her within a month and then wrote several after that. None of these ever got made into movies (answering our ridiculously arrogant question with all the delicacy of a tight slap).

But once I’d caught the fiction bug I couldn’t shake it off. The high of creating characters and putting them through the ringer and watching them triumph was a drug like no other.

My kids were babies then and I wrote everywhere. When they napped, at playgroup, at the park. As they grew, I wrote at soccer fields, on swimming pool bleachers, in math class waiting rooms, and in parking lots large and small. I still get a lot of my writing done in parking lots outside my kids’ various activities.

But my quest to get published didn’t start in earnest until I completed my first manuscript, The Bollywood Bride, in 2010 and joined the Romance Writers of America (RWA). After that it was all crazed obsession. I spun in the edit/query/get rejected loop incessantly for two years before I sold The Bollywood Bride following an impromptu pitch to my editor in the middle of a Kensington spotlight at The Chicago Spring Fling conference.
What’s your ideal writing environment?
Parking lots? I’m kidding. My ideal writing environment is inside my head. Once the chaos inside my head falls in place and cooperates, externally, I can write just about anywhere. Although, in deference to my hubby’s incessant nagging efforts to save my aging spine, I’m trying to avoid writing in bed and on the couch.

Sonali's Other works

Connect with Sonali - Website - Facebook - Twitter

Sonali Dev is the acclaimed author of A Bollywood Affair, The Bollywood Bride and A Change of Heart. She was previously an assistant editor at Architectural Journal in Mumbai, India and has written scripts for Indian movies and television. She coordinates The Windy City Romance Writers' of America Four Seasons romance writing contest. Sonali lives in Chicago, IL.

Today's Gonereading item is:
a small sample from The Reading Woman collection
Click HERE for the buy page

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  1. I love that her background and life experiences helps her to write, I think when author's use personal experiences of any kind, it really shows through their work.
    Great interview!

    1. I know the cover and the premise really caught my attention too!

  2. I've read her first two books and enjoyed them and I will read this one, most likely next year now with the calendar groaning somewhat!! Great interview again and the book trailer they've made is good.

  3. I've heard great things about her books, I think I own one. I really need to pop my Dev cherry, I'm sure it'll be worth the read.

  4. Wow yeah life experience would really help lend to a rich read. Gorgeous cover on this one!

  5. This is an author that has been recommended to me, I need to grab a copy :)