First off, I just want to say a big congratulations to Sandhya Menon for hitting BOTH the national Indie bestsellers list and the New York Times bestsellers list in her VERY FIRST WEEK with When Dimple Met Rishi! This YA romantic comedy, told in dual-POV, is the story of two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married. The book has been getting tons of well-deserved buzz, and has been called the rom-com of summer 2017.
Hi, Sandhya! Congrats on the release When Dimple Met Rishi ! Can you tell us a little about the story and what you loved most about writing it?
Thank you, Megan! What I undoubtedly loved the most was writing two brown teens falling in love. When Dimple Met Rishi isn’t an Issue Book (and although those are so important, I am definitely not the person to write one!), and to me that was such a bold statement to make: Brown teens deserve happy endings and silly, sweet, cute stories, too. There’s been a dearth of that in YA contemporary, and it felt amazing to try and bridge that gap.
With the dual perspective, did you ever feel like one character was easier to write than the other, and what advice can you give to writers attempting dual POV in their own books?
I didn’t! Funnily enough, I felt so deeply connected to both Dimple and Rishi that their perspectives just flowed naturally and easily for me. My advice to other writers would be to fully flesh out each character’s emotional and goal arcs before you even get started.
I love that B&N Teen Blog called When Dimple Met Rishi “…A smart exploration of how hard it can be to hold onto who you are and what you want if you dare to let someone else in.” Did you have this theme in mind from inception, or did it blossom as you wrote??
I love that quote so much! I had a very strong inkling that that was what I wanted the story to be about, but it didn’t get fully fleshed out until I actually sat down at my desk and began to write.
Dimple and Rishi are described as opposites (and we know opposites can attract!). When crafting a love interest, what qualities make them irresistible?
I love passionate people. Whether they’re passionate about art or science or feminism or roller blading, I just want them to really believe in something outside of themselves, something bigger than themselves.
What part of the writing process do you find most challenging and how do you tackle it?
Definitely that first revision after the first draft has been done and set aside! This is before my editor sees it; before anyone sees it. It always feels intimidating and so daunting! I deal with it by setting a date to do it and then just plunging in headfirst. I also love chunking my revisions into bite-size, manageable portions. So, the first pass might be focusing on the emotional journey of the heroine, the second pass would be transitions, etcetera.
What are you reading, or otherwise currently obsessed with?
I just finished Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao and it. was. FABULOUS.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an author so far?
Oh my gosh, too many to count! One thing I absolutely love is meeting teen readers. I’ll never get over hearing someone say they connect with me or my work! And recently, hitting both the national Indie bestsellers list and the New York Times bestsellers list in my first week has been indescribable.
And finally, what’s one steadfast piece of advice you would give to writers working toward publication?
Take breaks when you need them. Don’t push yourself to exhaustion.
Thanks for having me, Megan!
I want to thank Sandhya for taking the time to answer these questions (especially in the midst of release and hitting two huge bestseller lists!) and for giving us a glimpse into her writing process. Be sure to add this hilarious and heartfelt book to your Goodreads list, or order your copy RIGHT NOW from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local indie.
If you benefited from any of Sandhya's interview, or if you just want to congratulate her on her success, please hop on over to Twitter and tweet Sandhya directly at @smenonbooks. And for more information, be sure to check out her author website at sandhyamenon.com.