I feel lucky and honored to be a member of the Chicago North RWA chapter. Doubly lucky because Sonali Dev is also a member. She is one of the 2013 Golden Heart ® finalists with her Contemporary Single Title Romance – The Bollywood Bad Boy. Sonali agreed to visit my blog and discuss the manuscript and the path taking her toward the Golden Heart.
First, huge congrats on being a Golden Heart finalist. I was a finalist in 2010 and remember it was the most amazing high (and a drug free one too)
Sonali, how did it feel when you heard the news? Where were you when you got the call?
Yes, I’m totally on a high right now! Believe it or not I was picking up puppy poop from the backyard when the phone rang. We have a new puppy and I’ve been going at the toilet training the way I do everything else, with a plan and focus and schedules and dreams (none of it’s working of course). But this was probably the first time we had backyard droppings, so I let the phone ring. Plus I didn’t recognize the number and I thought, well, the puppy pooping in the yard is too momentous to be ruined by a telemarketer. When I came in my husband handed me the phone and asked, “Who’s RWA Nationals?” and suddenly the poop wasn’t that momentous any more.
What was your reaction to the news?
I basically started screaming and then didn’t stop screaming until Claudia Dane hung up the phone, a little deafer than when she’d dialed my number no doubt. And then for the rest of the day I burst into arbitrary screams and hopping dances and flew at the puppy and at anyone else I could get my hands on. It was the craziest feeling. See, I recently sold my books, so this was my last chance to final in the Golden Hearts. Don’t know why it was so important but I really truly wanted to know that my completely off-the-bat book could do this.
Tell us about that “completely off-the-bat book.”
My manuscript, The Bollywood Bad Boy is the story of a child bride from a tiny village in India who grows up and finds she’s married to the wrong man. Unfortunately the right man is even more wrong–he’s her husband’s brother and he’s only charming the pants off her to help his brother get rid of her.
Just the idea that the story of a child bride from a village in India and a Bollywood playboy was embraced by the judges, who in all probability have no frame of reference for either one of those worlds, completely blows me away. So much for everything we hear about readers needing to relate to our characters’ worlds, right?
Is this your first time entering the Golden Heart contest?
I entered the first book in the series, The Bollywood bride, last year. And I entered both The Bollywood Bride and The Bollywood Bad Boy this year. Only one finalled.:)
Tell us about your next steps – and I know you have big ones
As I said earlier, The Bollywood Bad Boy has already sold to Kensington and it will come out sometime in 2015 after my debut novel, The Bollywood Bride which comes out in November 2014. So right now I’m in the revisions cave and I mean buried up to my chin in it.
As soon as these edits go to my agent I start writing the third one in the series. I already have an outline, and this third one will actually be the first time I’ll write a book with a fairly detailed outline. I have a few more ideas for a few more books in this series which I’m refusing to go near right now so I can keep the focus where it’s needed. Then there’s all the promo to think about and the blogging and the social media. Just keeping up with the 2013 Golden Heart finalists email loop has the potential to become a full time job right now. And then there’s the puppy toilet training (which is still a huge hit and miss).
Oh and I’m a big believer in celebrating and soaking it all up, so there’s been much popping of the bubbly and a hunt for the perfect writerly drink (the vodka’s a given but other ingredients are being carefully considered through stringent taste tests).
Do you plan to attend RWA Nationals?
Of course I’m going to the ceremony. For one it’s The Golden Hearts for heaven’s sake!! Then there’s the fact that my dear friend India Powers has also finalled! Plus I actually know-know a RITA finalist! And to think all the writers I’ve been hero worshiping for years and years might actually be sitting somewhere close by. I mean this is huge fangirl manna from heaven.
Any idea what you will wear?
And of course I know what I’m going to wear. I always wear a sari to the Awards ceremony. I actually bought a sari from my favorite Indian designer, Ritu Kumar, on my last trip to India with the crazy, entirely unfounded notion that I would wear it to the Awards ceremony if I made it to the finals. And viola! there you have the power of dreaming! There’s the little issue of my super tiny blouse that exposes quite an expanse of waist and back and the fact that celebrations involving chocolate and vodka expand said expanses of waists and backs with astounding speed. Ah well, it’s a good thing the final judges take a few months to judge those entries. If I can final in the Golden Heart and sell my books, surely I can lose a few pounds. Right? (Yikes, don’t answer that).
What will you say when you win? (Because I am an eternal optimist)
And no I have no idea what I will say. But with the number of people who’ve helped me on this journey, the one thing I know for sure is that there won’t be enough time to say my thank yous.
I think it’s all about readers relating to our character’s feelings. And I bet you’ve put a ton of emotion in your manuscript. I know I can’t wait to read your heroine’s story.
Congratulations Sonali. Thank you for visiting. Now get to work on that acceptance speech!
Find out more about Sonali’s future books here