FoX Friday with Sonali Dev + a giveaway!

FoX Friday with Sonali Dev + a giveaway!

Oh, my dears, we have a special treat today. The lovely and talented Sonali Dev is here with her brand new release A Change of Heart. Readers call it powerful, raw, gripping, and romantic, and I cannot wait to read it. And Sonali is giving away a copy, so comment below for our chance to win!

I had the pleasure of spending time with Sonali and asked her if she’d stop by to visit with us.

How long have you been writing?

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. Consequently I went to architectural school so I could have a ‘real’ career and I continued to pursue my ‘hobby’ by writing columns and blogs. The switch to writing fiction happened over the phone 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?

Ha! Indeed. 🙂

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.

I couldn’t agree more. Do you listen to music when you write, or do you need silence?

When I’m actually writing— that is putting words down on paper I need a fair amount of silence. Music, conversations, they can go on around me, but I’m not listening. However, while I’m writing but not putting words down— as in, living inside the book in my head while pretending to be involved in my outside-the-book life — I have certain songs that I listen to all the time. And by all the time I mean my family throws headphones at me because they get so sick of listening to these songs twenty times a day. So, yes my books have sound tracks and they’re usually songs from Bollywood movies. Usually, hyper romantic ballads that somehow fit my stories perfectly.

You should post those playlists, of you don’t already. It would be fun to listen as I read. Do you do anything special to celebrate a book release?

I should, shouldn’t I?

Absolutely. 🙂

Well, book release time is so insanely hectic that really I celebrate by burning through to-do lists. Haha. Thus far, I’ve only had one release a year for the past three years and my local indie bookstore Anderson’s Bookshop does launch parties for me, and that certainly feels like a celebration.

I just caught the live stream of your last one, it looked like a lot of fun. Do you have any one-click or must-buy authors?

Why, yes, of course. How much time do you have? Lisa Kleypas, for the perfect emotional pitch of her writing. Susan Elizabeth Philips for the most real, the most irredeemable characters and for redeeming them like no one else can, Kristan Higgins for creating families and communities you want to crawl into and never leave and for the biggest belly laughs in the business, Nalini Singh for the sheer intensity and sweetness of her romantic connections and Sherry Thomas for the complex intricateness of not just her language but of her characters.

Yes! I love them all. 🙂 So, what is your absolute favourite film?

Oh, I couldn’t even give you my top 10. Between Indian and English films there are just too many. If you really twist my arm, maybe Roman Holiday and the Bollywood film Kabhi Kabhi.

Roman Holiday is lovely. I haven’t seen Kabhi Kabhi, but I’ll look for it. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

Another one that’s impossible to answer. I’m a nomad at heart. I want to live in at least 10 cities for at least a couple of years at a time before I die.

You sound a lot like me, lol. Okay, finish this sentence: I’m addicted to…

Chai and biscuits as soon as I wake up. I’m not human until that has happened in the morning.

Yum! So, what can readers expect from you next?

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.

That sounds amazing!

Let’s learn a little more about A Change of Heart.

a-change-of-heartDr. 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.

Get it. Get it now at AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboBooks-a-millionIndieBoundTargetWalmart, and Hudson Booksellers.

Sonali was kind enough to bring along an excerpt from the book. Enjoy!

***

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.

The deck hand’s smiling mouth drooped into a frown. He turned away and started working the spotless floor with his mop. Shit, had he just thought of the man as a deckhand? Jen would have clonked him upside the head for it. Jen would’ve—

“What’s your name?” Conversation was better than the high definition telecast of memories that kicked off in his brain.

“Gavin.” The man looked surprised. “From Goa. In India.”

Great. Goa. Jen’s favorite place in the whole world.

The steady boat pitched beneath Nikhil’s feet. His stomach lurched. The world summersaulted around him. He leaned over the brass railing and tried not to throw up his guts.

He failed. When the heaving stopped, the world was still spinning too fast. He lifted his T-shirt and wiped the foul-smelling puke off his mouth. Gavin from Goa was walking across the deck with a bottle of water in his hand.

Nikhil should have thanked him, should’ve told him he was fine. Instead he turned toward the stairs. In the light of day he could talk to people, pretend to be alive, but now when the world was as dark as his insides, he couldn’t. The stairs dived into the lower deck. He grabbed the railing and stumbled down, landing on his ass on the last step.

The smell of chlorine from the three-tiered pool cut past the smell of regurgitated Jack on his shirt, setting off the churning in his stomach again. He pulled himself up and dragged himself to the elevator, rubbing his face on his shoulder like the snotty, cranky brat he used to be. But no tears came to dilute the unrelenting burn of wanting.

How could it be that he was still here? The sunset, the sunrise, it was all still here when she was gone.

He wanted her back. God. Please. Give her back to me.

“Look what you’ve done to yourself, Spikey.”

His head snapped up. He didn’t remember stepping out of the elevator, but he spun around now, his breath loud in the absolute silence. The brightly lit corridor swirled around him. The bloodred carpet, the gold-striped walls, every inch of garish splendor echoed that word.

“Spikey.”

There wasn’t a soul in sight.

He followed the echoing word across the hallway and around the corner, his racing heart dragging the rest of his body along. He turned the corner, expecting to see nothing. Expecting to chase the sound the way he’d been chasing his dead wife’s memories for two years.

A shadow clad in black stood all the way across the corridor. A wisp of dark against the overpowering gold of the walls. Bright red strands cascaded around her face and into her jaw in a razor-sharp edge. Hair he knew better than he knew his own name.

He reached out and leaned into the wall, but the ship continued to seesaw beneath him. She held steady for a moment and then she was gone, melting around the corner.

He sprang after her, running until he was standing in the spot she’d been in. Another long corridor stretched out in front of him. It showed no signs of life, only an endless line of doors connected by endless golden molding, and the endless buzz of the lights overhead.

The walls closed in around him, forcing him to stumble forward. His breath ricocheted against the heavily textured wallpaper.

And then there she was again, a flash of red hair peeking around the corner. He ran at it, at her. But his drunken legs tripped over themselves and he splattered flat on his face, arms and legs splayed like a dead arthropod someone had swatted into the floor.

When he lifted his head she was gone.

His face fell back on the rough, deep pile of the carpet with its polythene smell, and everything went black. Everything except the panacean sound of that name.

Spikey.

Only one person called him that.

Jen, his wife. And she’d been dead for two years.

***

Oh gosh. I’m going to need a box of tissues for this one, I just know it. Go out and grab A Change of Heart right now at AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboBooks-a-millionIndieBoundTargetWalmart, and Hudson Booksellers. Don’t forget to comment below for a chance to win a copy!

authorphotoSonali Dev’s first literary work was a play about mistaken identities performed at her neighborhood Diwali extravaganza in Mumbai. She was eight years old. Despite this early success, Sonali spent the next few decades getting degrees in architecture and written communication, migrating across the globe, and starting a family while writing for magazines and websites. With the advent of her first gray hair her mad love for telling stories returned full force, and she now combines it with her insights into Indian culture to conjure up stories that make a mad tangle with her life as supermom, domestic goddess, and world traveler.

Sonali lives in the Chicago suburbs with her very patient and often amused husband and two teens who demand both patience and humor, and the world’s most perfect dog.

Get in touch with Sonali on Facebook Twitter Website Newsletter

 

Comments

  1. Angel Mystique says:

    Oh my goodness!!! This sounds like it’s going to grip me and not let me GO! I would LOVE TO read this! You’re extremely talented both of you! Thank you for the chance!

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