Friday, November 17, 2017

Dimple Met Rishi Week: Sandhya Menon chats with us about Dimple, Rishi, her favorite part about being a YA Author, and more!

Welcome to Sandhya Menon! We are thrilled to share our interview with the author of When Dimple Met Rishi with you today:

Can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel, When Dimple Met Rishi?

When Dimple Met Rishi is about two Indian-American teens whose parents conspire to arrange their marriage. All does not go as planned because Dimple is totally against it and Rishi is totally for it! If you like STEM girls, swoony-soft boys, and rom-com magic, you'll probably enjoy it. :)

One of my favorite things about When Dimple Met Rishi (WDMR) is how different the voices of your two narrators are. How difficult was it to jump from one voice to the other? Did you use any tricks for getting into your narrators’ heads, like listening to music they might like?

Thank you! That's so nice to hear. I love the idea of listening to music that inspires character voices! Alas, my process wasn't that exciting. It really just boiled down to the fact that Dimple and Rishi were both extremely real to me from the start. When I wrote a scene, I felt like one of them would speak louder than the other, and I'd write down the thoughts of whomever was loudest at the moment. That's how I decided when I'd switch, too--I just let them tell me!

Lovers of dialogue will be in for such a treat when they read WDMR. Dimple and Rishi have a limited amount of time together (because their workshop is only so long) and they fill it to the brim with conversation. Did you do any “spying” on real teens to be sure that it would sound realistic, or were you relying on your inner teen?

Haha, I love to spy on people, teens and otherwise--all in the name of research, of course! I worked for a year with teens as part of a graduate program, so I always had a lot of inspiration there. I also love listening to teens and young adults at airports, stores, coffee shops--anywhere, really!

One of the themes of WDMR is finding your passion. When you were a teen did you know that writing was yours?
Absolutely! I was one of those writers who was practically born with a lust for stories. Like Rishi, though, I struggled mightily with believing and convincing others that writing could be a viable, smart career.

Speaking of passions, Rishi and Dimple are both super smart teens with a lot of interests. Was it fun to delve not only into the world of computer engineering, but also cartooning and visual arts? Did it send you down any interesting paths and did most of it get used or just add to the world?
I read so much interesting stuff! I didn't get to use all of it in the book, but something that really stuck with me was that the rate of girls going into computer science is actually lower today than it was in the 1980s. That statistic just blew my mind, and I knew I had to make Dimple the most kick@$$ coder I possibly could.

I definitely read WDMR with a big iced coffee next to me. I’m sure everyone asks, but will you share your favorite coffee order with us?

I'm a simple girl with simple tastes, so I always get the caramel frappuccino at Starbucks!

Who was the most fun character to write?

Besides Dimple and Rishi, I absolutely adored writing Ashish, Rishi's brother. He really shined on the page for me, and I knew I had to give him his own story (coming summer 2019!). I also loved writing Dimple's mother, who's so annoyingly, lovingly meddlesome that you can't help but adore her.

Is it too early to ask about your next project? What can we expect?

Not at all! From Twinkle, With Love will be out in the summer of 2018. It follows an Indian-American teen filmmaker who writes letters in her diary to her favorite female directors as a way to deal with romance and friendship drama. I'm so in love with this book and can't wait to share more!

We are also BEYOND excited that we are getting a book from Rishi’s brother, Ashish’s perspective (in 2019, but we are already counting the days)! Did you know all along that you wanted to give him his own story?

Haha, I answered this above! I love Ashish so much, and as soon as I began writing him, I knew he had a lot more to say and a lot more to do in the WDMR universe. I'm so thrilled to share more about him and his new love interest, Sweetie, very soon!

Are there any other YA books you think fans of When Dimple Met Rishi would also enjoy?

Oh, so many! I'm a huge fan of all YA by Jenny Han. I love Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss series. I also highly recommend Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali and the upcoming Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed!

What have been your favorite parts of being a YA author?

My incredible teen readers! Nothing makes my heart happier than meeting teens on tour and hearing that When Dimple Met Rishi spoke to them in some deep way. It gives me goosebumps just talking about it! Anytime I meet a teen who loved the book, I forget the stress of deadlines, the horribly drawn out process of revisions when a book isn't doing what it's supposed to be doing, the relative uncertainty of a creative career. Teen readers really make it all worth it.

Do you have a favorite place to write?

I love writing at this little desk I just put in my bedroom. It's made of old, distressed, painted wood and sits in a corner. Bonus points if my golden retriever puppy is at my feet, snoring!

Do you have any advice that you would you give a young writer?

Block out the noise. Don't worry about whether you can make money doing this or not. Don't worry about whether you're any good. Don't worry about that other kid in your class who won all the awards and seems to know everything you don't. Do it for you; do it for the love of the craft. And keep writing! The world needs YOUR voice.

Thank you so much to Sandhya Menon for chatting with us! We loved learning more about you and your books!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sandhya Menon Week: Teen Review

We are beyond excited to bring you an interview with Sandhya Menon, the author of When Dimple Met Rishi, this Friday! Join us all week for posts dedicated to Dimple and Rishi:

Today, our fabulous teen Anna shares her review:

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Dimple and her mom do not get along. Their point of contention? Traditions. Dimple hates makeup; her mom won't stop insisting she wear it. Dimple wants to have a career in web development; her mom wants her to be a demure wife. Dimple wants to be in control of her life; her mom wants her to marry a traditional Indian man through an arranged marriage.

When her parents allow her to attend a summer program about web design, she feels like they're finally loosening the reins and allowing her to explore herself. Little does she know, on the first day of camp, a random Indian guy named Rishi Patel will announce that he is her future husband. From there ensues the journey of Dimple and Rishi, full of frustration, self-discovery, and love--and don't forget iced coffee.

When Dimple Met Rishi is a special book. The story was well-executed and hilarious. Not only did my sappy heart melt 50 times, I also laughed out loud quite a lot. Aside from the plot itself, Menon does an amazing job at subtly integrating Indian culture throughout the story. This is a YA romance that adds more depth than what's on the surface. WDMR is as informative as it is adorable. Furthermore, Dimple and Rishi are incredibly realistic characters. Not only are they struggling in their relationship (at all stages), but they both have issues of their own that they overcome with assistance from the other.

This book is a must-read for every contemporary YA romance lover. Dimple and Rishi capture your heart within the first few chapters and never let it go.