Today on ye old blog I’m proud to welcome bestselling author of THE BOLLYWOOD BRIDE and THE BOLLYWOOD AFFAIR, Sonali Dev. Today Sonali is here to talk about her latest release, A CHANGE OF HEART.
Hi Sonali, thanks so much for being here on ye old blog today. It’s a real honor and a treat.
Thanks so much for having me!
First off can you tell us a bit about A CHANGE OF HEART?
It’s the story of Dr. Nikhil Joshi who lost his wife two years ago in a horribly tragic crime, and Jess, the woman who claims to have his wife’s heart in a transplant. It’s basically a journey into healing from loss and trauma and coming out into the light.
Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:
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.
What inspired you to write this story?
Nikhil and his wife Jen were major secondary characters in my previous book, 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.
Without giving too much away can you tell us how A CHANGE OF HEART ties in with your other books?
A CHANGE OF HEART (and all my books, really) stand alone. However, we do meet Nikhil and Jen in THE BOLLYWOOD BRIDE first and in that they two books are related. They basically follow the same family and there’s a strong family saga element to all my books.
You go a bit dark in A CHANGE OF HEART, really getting deep into emotions. What made this an important story for you to write right now?
I think we all cherish our families and loved ones and live with a deep-seeded fear of losing all that. One part of telling stories is exploring situations that disturb us so we can keep the faith that everything is surmountable and to keep our lives hopeful even when we see horrific things going on in the world. That’s at the heart of it, I think. I wrote this dedication to my children for A CHANGE OF HEART and I think it says it all:
For Mihir and Annika, because I want you
to believe that every darkness can be overcome.
And because you are the brightness that lights up my world.
Ok now I’m in tears. Thank you for sharing that.
This next question is a favorite of mine. Care to share the story of your “overnight” success with my readers?
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. 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 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 three 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.
Lastly, what can readers expect next from you?
My next book is a Rapunzel story about a girl who’s been locked up in a sterile room for 12 years waiting to find a cure for her illness and a boy who’s been a servant in her home and her only friend and her eyes to the world, and how they navigate the real world when she’s finally free.
And now here’s a short excerpt from A CHANGE OF HEART:
Nikhil’s head felt like someone had squeezed it through a liquidizer. Whiskey burn stung his brain as if he had snorted the stuff instead of pouring it down his gullet. He leaned into the polished brass railing, letting the wind pummel his face. The ship, all twenty-four floors of behemoth decadence, was like the damn Burj Al Arab speeding across the Caribbean. And yet the only way to know they were moving was to watch the waves. His fingers released the glass sitting on the railing and it flew into the night, disappearing long before it hit the inky water.
He imagined hopping on the railing, imagined being that glass. Boom! And it would be over. Finally, there’d be peace.
The sky was starting to ignite at the edges, as though the glass of Jack he’d just tossed into the night had splattered amber flecks across the horizon. It would go up in flames soon. All of it orange and gold when the sun broke through the rim of the ocean. It was time for him to leave. The last thing he needed was the mockery of another breaking dawn.
“Sir, why don’t you stay and watch today?” A man leaned on his mop, staring at Nikhil from under his windblown hair, that tentative, guilty look firmly in place. The look people couldn’t seem to keep off their faces when they talked to Nikhil—the one that announced, rather loudly, that they were terrified of intruding. Because The Pathetic Dr. Joshi with the giant hole in his heart might break down right before their eyes.
“Very beautiful it is, no?” The man pointed his chin at the burgeoning sunrise that had just pumped Nikhil’s lungs full of pain and waited for a response. But while the blazing pain in Nikhil’s heart was functioning at full capacity, the booze incapacitated his tongue. He wanted to react, wanted to have a conversation with the man who was obviously starved for it. He searched for words to say, but he came up empty.
Now there was a word: empty.
Still empty after two years.
Thanks so much for being here today. It’s been a real pleasure.
Sonali can be found at these places on the web. Please check her out:
And don’t forget to pick up your copy of A CHANGE OF HEART!
Hudson Booksellers: http://www.hudsonbooksellers.com/book/9781496705747
All the best,