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A quick word from Bobbi Dumas, your host.
Hi everyone! Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month. You can find out more about this fun, month long event here. And check out all the great authors taking part this year on the calendar, here.
The theme this year is The Romance Of Reading, The Magic Of Books and we have an awesome assortment of writers – both romance and mainstream fiction authors – sharing about books, reading, romance & magic. I hope you’ll visit everyday.
(Also, be sure to check in to The Romance Of Reading FB page, where one of the RARM authors will be hosting the page each day in August. Today Sonali Dev will also be on the page.)
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Sonali Dev – The Magic of Books & Time
Of course, I believe in magic. It’s everywhere, and the simplest name for it is “time.” One minute you’re a little girl running through the grasses looking for fireflies to catch in glass jars (and letting them go almost immediately because you think the jar might suffocate them and stifle their light), and the next you’re driving across the country to drop your child off at a college one too many state lines away. One minute you’re stuck in architecture school dreaming of being a writer some day and the next you’re passing your book in a Target aisle as you shop for your child’s college dorm room.
Sensing a theme, are you? Yes, I’m a recent empty nester. Also, yes, I’m a hot mess. But I have been thinking a whole heck of a lot about time and how we’re all standing in a spot that feels often like we got here in the snap of a finger. One moment we were somewhere entirely different and then boom here we are. It’s the most powerful of truths: that time doesn’t stand still and that it transforms everything in its path, oftentimes brutally and too quickly.
This truth is also at the heart of why we love stories and why storytelling is as old as humanity. Because stories trap and track time. They take characters across a story arc, which essentially is the act of examining a character’s growth over time. They let us play with the relationship between actions and consequences and then let us play with it again another way. They give us answers for ‘what ifs’ in the time that it takes to turn a few hundred pages.
If we let stories teach us, they sometimes help us tweak our own actions, changing our own relationship with time and taking us somewhere more exciting and peaceful in our own journey. I don’t mean just an escapist getting away (which is great, by the way) but an actual doing of things differently because a book taught you something you would not have learned without it.
I read Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind when I was fourteen and there’s a line in it that changed the course of my life. “Until you’ve lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was or what freedom really is.” Growing up in India, in a society that felt like a glass bowl of judgement and rules, having a story show me that society’s opinion is a burden you do not have to carry was at once so radical and so freeing to me that it did truly change how I saw myself and consequently the choices I made.
In every one of my stories I overtly play with the magic of time. The stories of generations and how they influence one another, the stories of childhoods and how they influence adulthood. The stories of a choice made a long time ago coming home to roost and the courage that it takes sometimes to heal and to let go, so that in the next snapping of our fingers we may end up in a place where we are no longer ruled by those choices of our past. The other simpler magic of books is that when you suddenly find yourself standing by yourself, your hands empty of the hands they held, there’s something to fill them with.
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2019 RARM Questions:
Tell us about a time in your life that felt magical to you.
I think every single time I hold a copy of my book in my hand it’s magical. Exactly in the way that I talked about in my essay. It’s a moment that condenses time and pulls into itself every moment before that I hungered for that precise thing to happen.
Tell us about a book that was magical for you.
Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. It was the first mainstream English language book I read that had Indian protagonists who lived and acted like me. Not only was the prose so seamless and beautiful that I fell into the story body and soul, but for the young writer in me, finding a book in a store that was populated by the kinds of characters that inhabited my own stories turned an impossible dream possible in my mind.
Tell us about a “magical moment” in your writing or your career?
I’m part of a Facebook Group called Fiction From The Heart with eleven other author friends I love dearly. We recently published an anthology called ONCE UPON A WEDDING and we hit the USA Today Bestseller list. The entire experience can only be described as magical. About a year ago in one of our daily chats we thought: wouldn’t it be fun to write an anthology?
After that magic upon magic followed. We set goals, we came up with a schedule, we adjusted and readjusted goals, we held each other as we panicked about deadlines, we brainstormed, we stood together in a huddle of unshakeable sisterhood. We became rocks for one another, refusing to be afraid to speak our ambition and our fears. We were a mass of joy and silliness and LOVE for one another’s stories. Because the stories that emerged were ALL us. Because we created a place where we could go for it without fear of falling. Every time a roadblock came, we shrugged our collective shoulders and then put them into blasting that baby down! I can’t think of a more magical thing. (The authors: Jamie Beck, Tracy Brogan, Falguni Kothari, Barbara O’Neal, Amy Liz Talley, Priscilla Oliveras Kissinger, Hope Ramsay, Sally Kilpatrick, Kwana M. Jackson, Donna Kauffman, and Virginia Kantra – who was by our side even when she couldn’t be in the book.)
You can find the book here – ONCE UPON A WEDDING @Amazon
For writers who use magical aspects in their books, what attracts you to those elements? For those of you who don’t, are there specific themes or elements you’re attracted to and find yourself going back to? Why do these resonate with you?
I’m obsessed with a woman’s struggle to balance social expectations with identity and personal fulfillment. So, I’d say my theme is the search for an individual’s place within the context of family and community and its impact on the pursuit of happiness.
Creativity is a kind of magical experience. What inspires you, keeps you going, helps you when you lose focus, etc.?
Travel, reading, binging TV shows, whining to my author friends about how I’ll never be able to write again.
DRAWING – is hosting The Romance of Reading page, and her giveaways will take place there.
However, all comments will also be entered to win a bundle of books from the Week 4 participating authors. You may enter by commenting on this original blog post and/or on the Read-A-Romance Month Facebook page post, here.
Each first unique comment at each space offers an extra chance to win, so check in with each author. Must comment by 9/05/19 11:59pm Eastern to enter.
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Sonali 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 writing, 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 the world’s most perfect dog. She has two children in college.
Discover all of Sonali’s books:
*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and text links connect to an affiliate portal. Thanks so much for your help & support!