“Even though we have made so much progress when it comes to our mindset and vision, gender differences are one thing that must change in our society,” says author Sonia Lalli
Every Indian girl at some point in her life has had to face these questions - "when do you plan to get married? You are next in line for marriage. How excited are you?" These questions are thrown at a girl not just by her parents but from the gossip craving aunties, neighbours, and everyone whether they are related or not related to the girl.
Priyanka Chopra just recommended my book on her Instagram and there will be no chill in the Lalli family ever again. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/W6YJmWr8sE— Sonya Lalli (@sonya_lalli) March 13, 2021
Well, author Sonia Lalli took the exact situation that several girls as the storyline for her latest book, Serena Singh Flips the Script. But there's a slight twist in the story - the protagonist of the book Serena is in her mid-thirties who is proving to her traditional parents that she does not want "domestic bliss." However, when Serena’s younger sister and best friend announces that she’s pregnant and gets too busy for her; Serena finally admits to herself that she is lonely. She has let all of her close friendships fall by the wayside and convinces herself, rightly or wrongly, that it’s because she focused on her career while the other women made more conventional life choices.
As an Indian who grew up in her hometown in Saskatoon, we asked Sonya if the story was based on her personal experiences. To which, the author responds, "The idea came to me when I moved to a new city and was finding it difficult to make new friends. When people around you are moving ahead in life and you are not there yet, you get into a tough spot. Personally, my family has been extremely supportive and has always been my backbone in whatever I have done. But as a South Asian, I know Indian women often have to face a lot of pressure when it comes to getting married, and when they choose not to, it stirs an even bigger problem."
Getting a book published is not a bed of roses, especially when it is in the middle of a pandemic. Telling us a little about the way Serena Singh Flips the Script was published, Sonia mentions that she first submitted the proposal to her editor after which the first draft was submitted in 2020. "It was both an exciting and nervous time for me to publish the book during these Covid times," Sonia shares.
A romance-writer, Sonia's debut novel The Matchmaker’s List was a runaway hit. But when quizzed about writing as a profession, she says, "I started my career as a lawyer from Columbia University in New York. But my career trajectory changed after I completed an MA in Creative Writing and Publishing at City, at the University of London. When I started off as a writer, it took me a long time to actually get started, understand the process, and get my first book published. From developing the idea, getting it approved by a publisher, edit rounds, etc."
Both her books have a South Asian as a protagonist and Sonia tells us why she did so. "We find a lot of stories from all over the world. But I can connect to stories better and understand them better when they come from India. I think I can represent these characters well in my stories and this is what I know best," she explains. Having said that, Sonia’s books are popular in Canada and the US. "Even though my books are available outside the US and North America - for my publishing houses, the primary target is the US. And so far, I have received such a positive response to my books. It is extremely heartwarming when women come forward and say they love the story, or they could relate to it, etc," she smiles.
Having explored the Indian culture and society in her books, Sonia mentioned that gender-biased and differences should most certainly change in our society, “Even though we have made so much progress when it comes to our mindset and vision, gender differences are one thing that must change in our society,” she signs off.
I have always loved and read all the books written by Jhuma Lahiri. She is such an inspiration to writers across the world.
Favourite spot to read a book: I love reading my books on my balcony especially in summer.
How do you overcome writer's block: I take a break and read a book. Reading even just one chapter gives me a break and helps me collect my thoughts.
Ebooks or physical copies: I like them both. I very recently also tried audiobooks.
Last book you read: Monkey Beach, a novel by Eden Robinson.
Photos : COntributed By Sonya Lalli, Sonya lalli/Twitter