Author Interview: Sandhya Menon

Hello readers!
A while ago–back in May–we were lucky enough to welcome YA author Sandhya Menon to celebrate her second novel, From Twinkle With Love! We’d set up an interview with Fort Collins Public Media, but unfortunately, their studio was flooded and the interview was cancelled. We got in touch with her via email to badger her with our questions anyway, but due to author deadlines on her end and in-store craziness on ours, we haven’t had time to post her wonderful answers…maybe the interview is cursed?
Hopefully, posting these answers will break the curse and future author interviews and visits with Sandhya will go off without a hitch! Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, Sandhya! We’re looking forward to the Ashish book and everything you’ll write after!
Without further ado, the interview:

From Twinkle, With Love is written as letters from Twinkle to her favorite female directors. What was your reason for formatting the book this way? If you had to pick a director to make Twinkle into a movie, who would it be and why?
I think it’s so important for girls to have role models they can look up to, especially if they want to pursue careers that are typically male dominated. When Twinkle–or any aspiring filmmaker–looks at lists of bestselling movies, she sees a plethora of rich men, usually white, and very few women. So what message does that send?
I felt the same way when I was young and wanted to be a writer. I remember what an immensely formative moment it was for me to be handed Arundhati Roy’s book, God of Small Things, for the first time. A writer! Who was also an Indian woman! Who was enormously successful and talented and brilliant! Ohmygod!
So I really wanted Twinkle to have this kindly council of women she could write to and seek inspiration and guidance from, even if they didn’t know she existed. The fact that they existed was powerful enough for her.

There has been lots of talk recently about female directors (especially female directors of color) being under-represented in the movie industry. Did this topic of discussion inspire Twinkle’s story, and in what ways? 

I wrote and sold From Twinkle, with Love slightly before the upswell of conversations about under-representation, though, of course, those dismal numbers about the lack of diversity and representation were already out there. I definitely saw those conversations while I was editing the book, though, and it informed huge parts of Twinkle’s dialogue, both inner and outward. It helped shaped those feelings I’d had as an aspiring writer decades ago into something more concrete and germane to film-making specifically.

You recently announced the title for your next book, There’s Something About Sweetie, which will be releasing next summer. Congrats! Can you tell us about the book and a favorite from when you were writing it? 

Thank you! I’m so ridiculously excited to be heading back into the Dimple universe!
There’s Something About Sweetie is about two teens, absolute opposites of each other in so many ways, who reluctantly agree to go on four parent-mandated dates to such “fun” locations as the Hindu temple. One of the teens is Ashish, who you might remember from When Dimple Met Rishi–he’s Rishi’s younger, jock-y/cocky basketball star brother. The other is Sweetie, a fat athlete who’s REALLY tired of people telling her what she can and can’t do because of her size. Neither of them expects to fall in love in the course of these four dates, but as we know by now, true love doesn’t have a playbook. 😉
My absolute favorite thing about this story was Sweetie. The entire novel was very easy to write (and I’ll take those wins when I can get them because it’s certainly a very rare phenomenon!) and Sweetie, especially, just arrived on the page as one of my favorite, favorite characters I’ve ever written. I’ve had dreams where she and I are just sitting around, chatting. I found her to be such delightful company when I wrote, I guess my subconscious didn’t want to give her up!

What was the first story you ever wrote (like, the very first)?

Oh gosh, I don’t even remember! I began writing stories and poems as a kindergartner. I do remember writing a poem when I was about eight, though, and it said something about how my sister was my “darling,” and “also a starling.” Pretty sure I had no idea what a “starling” even was. Oh, God. I can’t believe I’m telling you this.

What is the best and/or worst interview questions you’ve ever been asked? (or an interview pet peeve)

Best: Anything about my books, writing, etc.–like you’ve asked here! I can talk about the craft of writing and the process of bringing my books to life all day every day. 🙂
Worst: Anything that asks me to speak for all Indian people or women of color writers everywhere. No, please! I can’t take that pressure and I certainly don’t speak for anyone except myself.

What is the best book you’ve read so far this year?

I can’t stop raving about Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, but it doesn’t come out until 2019! (Perks of being an author–Advanced Review Copies flow like water!)
But as for a book published this year, I’d have to go with The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. I’m verrrrry picky about fantasy, but even I was completely and immediately sucked in!

Thanks again, Sandhya!

You can find more about Sandhya Menon and her books on her website here.
You can find From Twinkle with Love online here, or call the store to reserve your copy!
Happy reading!

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