What was your inspiration for writing The Sari Shop Window? Why was it important for you to tell this story?
Little India in Edison, New Jersey is a quaint and interesting enclave of Indian sari and clothing shops, restaurants, jewelry and music stores, and food bazaars. The neighborhood is a slice of India transplanted into the heart of suburban U.S. My family and I go there often to shop and have a good meal. I always thought it would be make a great setting for a novel.
It is important for me to tell this story because it offers a rare glimpse into the immigrant Indian-American experience and a look at the ethnic fashions that have now become popular with mainstream American women and men.
Did you come across any snags or any roadblocks when writing it?
I did not experience any roadblocks at all. It flowed well except for the usual interruptions that life seems to bring.
What is your favorite aspect of The Sari Shop Window?
The flavors, colors, scents, and textures of India that I could put into a story set in the U.S. is my favorite aspect because many more American readers can relate to the characters.
How are fans responding to your book?
Fans are responding with marvelous enthusiasm. The book went into its second printing well before the release date. That speaks for itself.
Did you have to do any special research when writing The Sari Shop Window? How did this impact the book?
I had to do practically no research because the Little India area is not far from where I live and I visit it often. The streets, the shops, and the atmosphere are something I am very familiar with.
Did you incorporate any of your own life experiences into the story?
Other than the cultural elements, there are no autobiographical portions in the book. It is purely my imagination.
I was completely struck by the beauty of your book covers. What are your thoughts on them?
I consider myself very fortunate to have a publisher whose art department produces such lovely covers. Incidentally, the girl on the cover of my debut book is my daughter. It is her wedding photo, dressed in her bridal finery that was used on The Dowry Bride cover, which was an absolute thrill for me.
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey on the road to publication?
My writing career started in middle age, so I call it my “menopausal epiphany.” Never having written anything creative, I was oddly inspired to start writing at the age of fifty. It has been a tough battle, though. Finding the right agent and publisher for books that don’t quite fit into any established genre was a challenge. But I am pleased that there are people out there who will take a chance on a new author with a different kind of writing style and themes.
What do you like (or dislike) about writing in this genre and publishing eBooks?
I love mainstream women’s fiction with romantic elements, therefore this is my niche, and I enjoy writing it. I call it “Bollywood in a Book.” My books don’t quite fit comfortably into any genre, but that makes them unique. My books are published primarily in print form but they are available in electronic and Amazon’s Kindle version.
Why did you decide to become an author?
Frankly speaking, I stumbled into creating writing. When my husband accepted a job that took him out of state Monday through Friday for five long years, I decided to take up a nice, cozy hobby. We were empty-nesters, so my evenings were my own. I started as a freelance writer for some small publications, then moved on to short stories, and eventually to full-length novels. Thus began my adventurous journey to becoming a fiction author.
What is your writing routine like? Do you do anything special to warm up, cool down or keep the story going?
I have a demanding full-time day job, so I can write only outside working hours. I wake up at around 4:30 a.m. and do a little writing before leaving for work and then an hour or two each evening. But my creative juices are not very reliable or stable, so I go in spurts. When I am not in creative mode, I try to do some self-editing.
With your busy schedule, you must have some wonderful time management tricks. Care to share?
Having a super-busy schedule sometimes makes one budget one’s time more efficiently. I try to follow the routine I mentioned above on weekdays. Unfortunately weekends are taken up with household chores, cooking, and socializing. Giving up friends and good food and time with my husband is not an option.
Our readers always like to know, what kind of books do you read or what authors do you like to read?
I am a hopeless romantic and love reading romances, but I also read other types of popular fiction. My favorite authors are Judith McNaught, Karen Robards, Dan Brown, Nora Roberts, Nicholas Sparks, and Khaled Hosseini to name just a few on my extensive list.
What are your goals now that The Sari Shop Window is complete?
I plan to keep my day job (which pays the bills) and perhaps continue to write fiction and non-fiction on the side. Of course, it all depends on whether my publisher offers me more contracts or not in the future.
Are you working on any other projects currently?
As part of my current contract, there will be one more book that will be published in 2010. After that, my karma will decide.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
I sincerely hope my readers enjoy reading THE SARI SHOP WIDOW. Many of them have become loyal fans and send me some great feedback and even suggestions for future stories.
The Sari Shop Window and my other books are available at all U.S. and Canadian bookstores and online booksellers.
To contact me or learn more about my books, author events, book trailer video, recipes, short stories, and sign up for my newsletter, visit my Web site www.shobhanbantwal.com.
Thank you so much for interviewing me.