Tell us about your new novel, Last-Minute Love.
Thanks for this opportunity. I’m excited to share some insights into my books and why I write. To answer the first question: Last-Minute Love is the sequel to Year of the Chick, but it can also be read on its own (though Year of the Chick is free at all retailers for those who are interested!). The second book picks up with the main character trying to balance her true North American self against very traditional Indian expectations. Unlike the first book, Last-Minute Love is less about a quest to find love to avoid arranged marriage, and more about the character’s quest to follow her own dreams, live in the moment, and assert her independence.
What prompted you to write a sequel to Year of the Chick?
I wrote the sequel because of my experiences in real life. That’s the simplest answer! In my own life, I met someone amazing and embraced the whole “live in the moment” thing, which ended up heavily influencing what I wrote next...which is the sequel!
How many books will there be in the Year of the Chick series?
Definitely three, maybe four. I have a pretty good idea of how the plot goes for book three, but since a certain part of my book puzzle is always “inspired by real life,” I try to leave the plot open to possibilities until I write it. Something tells me that book three won’t be the end though. I’m sure I’ll take a break from the series and write something else after book three, but who knows, there could be more.
What are the similarities and differences between you and main character Romi Narindra?
Oh my gosh, how much time do you have? Haha...Well, if you follow my Facebook page, you can probably see some of the similarities between her character and me. From getting broody over men sometimes, to drooling over hot male celebrities (and following them down the streets of Toronto---yes, it happened), to being a nerd who goes to museums, and still being something of a believer in true love, that character is essentially me, just over-dramatized to make sure there’s enough action in the books (especially the first book where the “Romi” character was intensely crazy and obsessive...I’d like to think I’m a little more balanced than that these days!).
Why do you write women's fiction?
To me, it’s all about “write what you know,” and women’s fiction has always felt the most familiar to me, from always reading it, to injecting parts of my real “woman” life into the books. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to write something like a thriller some day, but that would come after a long period studying that genre and practicing writing it. For now, women’s fiction feels the most natural, and back to the “write what you know” part, if you can put the most inspiration and passion and know-how into whatever art you’re pursuing, then you have the best chance of presenting something different and special. That’s one of my goals actually; to present a unique twist on a very popular genre.
Share some of the positive and negative aspects of being a self-published author.
To start, being a self-published author has been a hugely positive experience...as in 95% positive. The fact that after being rejected by all the major publishers, I was able to go out on my own, find my own audience when no one believed my book had one, earn a 70% royalty which allows me to offer low prices to readers, and sell almost 4,000 copies in a year and a half? Well, it’s been amazing! I also love having control. From the book cover, to having the final say in the editing process, I never have to make a change I’m not comfortable with. It really is like owning your own business, which makes each sale and positive reader reaction all the more meaningful.
My only negatives are two. The first one is being in control of everything. I know, I said that was a positive! Well it is, but when you have a full-time job, a long commute, and a gym schedule you’d like to adhere to since you spend so much time in a chair at the office or when you’re writing...being in control of everything means you’re busy ALL THE TIME, even when you’re not working on the next writing project! If I can find a way to be a full-time author some day, this negative will be eliminated.
The only other negative is that readers can say whatever harsh things they want, and you just have to shut up and take it. Anything else will result in those “authors behaving badly” stories we’ve all heard about (yikes!). You simply can’t respond to negative reviews, because in the end, readers may express whatever opinion they like, and that’s their valid reader reaction, even if it’s five harsh words or they only read a few pages, and...in theory, I agree with that. It only becomes difficult when you spend too much time reading your reviews, because it’s easy for the one harsh review to cancel out the five glowing ones before it. Luckily, this negative feeling becomes more neutral when I think about how even the most popular authors go through it. I guess that’s when you know you’ve made it, haha.
Tell us about the book release party you had for Year of the Chick.
It was the craziest night, but in this case, the pictures tell a thousand words, so here’s a link to the album of book party photos. Long story short: my friend’s friend is a club promoter who basically helped me turn a Saturday night into a Year of the Chick fest! The place was all decked out with copies of my book, anyone who paid for a booth received a free copy, I had posters, post cards and pens I printed cheaply at Vista Print, and I got to wear a party dress...what more could a girl ask for? It was also great to pick up some new fans and have some photos to share whenever I’m networking my book.
What do you like to do for fun in your spare time?
I’ll answer this in list form:
- Watching my favourite TV shows (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Parks and Recreation, any season of Top Chef, etc)
- Watching movies
- Going to the museum (and YES I have a museum membership just like my character in Last-Minute Love!)
- Hanging out with my bestie gal-pals, which usually involves alcoholic beverages, haha
What are you working on now?
I’m not working on my next book yet, but instead I’m doing everything in preparation for that. This involves pre-first-draft research, and for me, that means going out into the world, experiencing things, meeting new people, and next year....some travel! (I don’t want to give too much away for those who haven’t read Last-Minute Love, but as you can see, my next book’s research has a lot to do with the experiences I have in life!). I would also like to adapt Year of the Chick into a screenplay to get myself ready for when the big movie producer calls (haha). I’ll definitely start working on that before the end of the year, and well, that’s it for right now (and it’s quite enough!).
Thank you, Romi!
Thank you, Romi!