Nisha Sharma grew up immersed in Bollywood movies, ’80s pop culture, and romance novels, so it is no surprise that her first novel, My So-Called Bollywood Life, features all three. Nisha lives in New Jersey with her cat, Lizzie Bennett, and her dog, Nancey Drew. You can find her online at nisha-sharma.com or on Twitter and Instagram at @nishawrites.
Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soul mate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her eighteenth birthday, and Raj meets all the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked when she returns from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted.
Then there’s Dev, a fellow film geek and one of the few people Winnie can count on. Dev is smart and charming, and he challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope and find someone she’d pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy and her chance to live happily ever after? To find her perfect ending, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star.
Who is one of your favorite (fictional or non-fictional) characters?
My favorite fictional character has always been Lizzie Bennet from ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ Lizzie was such a spunky character in a time when spunk was frowned upon. As a writer, I admire the way that Jane Austen crafted a character that is so easily identifiable in an era when everyone was expected to speak the same way. Ever since I read Lizzie and Darcy’s story for the first time, I’ve always aspired to create unique characters in my own books. The road to publication is twisty at best–tell us about some of your twists.
Good lord, where should I begin with this one? I knew I wanted to write professionally when I was still in college. I worked on my craft, and when I graduated, I landed my first agent who I thought believed in my stories. Unfortunately, after she signed me, I was told to revamp my book and essentially “white wash” my South Asian characters. I parted ways with that agent, something that to this day, is a scary process. However, I learned that a bad agent is worse than no agent at all. A writer needs an advocate in their corner, not an adversary.
Because I felt like my South Asian romances would never sell, I ended up writing cowboy romances through law school, and it wasn’t until I enrolled in my MFA program that I tried to write a diverse romance again. From the time I sold to publication, it took four years of editing and waiting and re-writing. This four year journey with ‘My So-Called Bollywood Life’ taught me about patience, and the need to keep honing my craft. So although the road to publication has been twisty, it’s also been educational and has helped me grow both personally and professionally.
Share one quirk you have that most people don’t know about.
I am OBSESSIVELY neat and organized.
No, you don’t understand.
Like if my knife block on my kitchen counter isn’t at the right angle, then I get twitchy, and I have to get up and fix it. My bookshelves in my house are organized in what I like to call ‘High Fidelity’ order. By period in my life, then by genre, and finally alphabetized by author. My clothes in my closet are hung by season, then by shirt sleeve length. I kid you not.
It’s a disfunction that I prefer to embrace rather than correct.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Finish the book. This is probably the most generic advice that everyone and their mother tells, but it’s probably the most important one out there. It certainly has a lot of meaning in my life. You cannot be a novelist if you don’t have a completed novel. Pitching your idea is one thing, but pitching your book is next level. So if you have to be uber crazy organized and break your writing up in word count, page count, writing hour goals, do it. Just finish that book.
What’s your next big thing? (new book, new project, etc.)
I’m working on my next book with Crown! In ‘My So-Called Bollywood Life’, my main character embraces culture and loves every minute of it. In ‘Radha’s Recipe for Bollywood Beats,’ culture is more of an exploration through food and dance. The process of coming up with the recipes that are included in the book, and revisiting dance which was a big period of my life, has truly been an amazing experience for me as a writer. I can’t wait to hear what readers have to say about Radha’s story.
Kaitlyn Sage Patterson
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