Author Q&A | “Soulmated” by Shaila Patel an exciting new release for readers who love #DiverseLit!

Posted Monday, 30 January, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Conversations with the Bookish badge created by Jorie in Canva

Hallo dear hearts! I am pleased to be a part of the blog tour hosted directly by Month9Books for a new release of #DiverseLit featuring a cross-cultural romance between an Irish bloke and an Indian lass! I’ve had the pleasure of interacting a bit with the author via Twitter leading up to my tour stop – whilst being caught up in the pre-release excitement of having a new book begin it’s travels within the book world. Always an exciting time for authors & readers alike – what drew me into wanting to host this blog tour is the opportunity to talk to the author about her characters, the story-line itself and to help celebrate an author whose writing an #ownvoices release.

I have always read diversely, ever since I was a young girl, however, a lot has changed in publishing in the last several years – where #WeNeedDiverseBooks has become a movement I’ve been a part of since it’s initial Twitter storm of tweets supporting diversity and equality in literature to where we now can celebrate authors like Ms Patel, who are writing narratives from their own cultural heritage and background whilst being celebrated through the #ownvoices movement as well. Literature is quite an exciting time right now – but what moves me to the most to read stories, are the heart and soul centred stories where we truly get to enter into the lives of the characters through an emotional connective thread which gives us entrance into their lives.

As I read the premise behind Soulmated, I felt the author had a wonderful window into telling a story a lot of us could relate too, and would love to read. The fact that it’s a cross-cultural Romance with the added benefit for being inclusive of the Urban Fantasy arc of elements wherein the supernatural bits are interspersed with the lives of the characters, you feel as if your about to enter into an exciting story which has a fast pace of alighting inside your imagination.

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Soulmated by Shaila Patel

Published By: Month9Books (@Month9Books)

on 24th January,  2017

Available Formats: Ebook | Paperback

Converse on Twitter via:

 #YALit, #DiversityInYA, & #DiverseSFF
 & #Month9Books

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BOOK SYNOPSIS:

Two souls. One Fate.

Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, has been searching for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family’s standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.

Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother’s ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage.

When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart.

Liam’s father isn’t convinced Laxshmi is “The One” and Laxshmi’s mother won’t even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one’s own fate too great a price for the soulmated?

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 How did you conceive of the idea behind Soulmated to be a brilliant cross-cultural YA filled with the depth of bridging into the field of empaths who are emotionally connected to everything in their lives? Was this a nod towards Indian story-telling or was it to showcase how relatable we all are once we get to know each other on a personable level?

Patel responds: I would say the story is more about how relatable we all are under the surface than anything else. We’re human at our core—not Indian, Irish, brown, or white. People’s emotions are the same no matter the race, religion, or nationality. Being Indian-American myself, it felt natural to write a heroine like me, and as for the cross-cultural aspect, the idea of exploring the tension of interracial relationships appealed as well. There is a part in the story where Liam laments about not being able to read the reasons behind an emotion, and that was by design. It forces Liam to ask her for clarification, which is an important skill to have in a relationship. So much of our motivation for how we react to the world is based on our prejudices, and I wanted to bring that out in the open, not leave it in Liam’s head. I also wanted what was between Laxshmi and Liam to be about their emotions and their spiritual connection—whether they became soulmated or not.

The journey of finding your soul mate is an interesting premise but also, I liked how it was rooted in self-identity, self advocacy and the choices of standing true to oneself – what first drew your eye to encompassing the angst of finding true against the backdrop of familial traditions and social obligations? I assume you mean “true love”?

Patel responds: Thank you! I suppose that angst is something we all struggle with to varying degrees, but especially when you’re from an immigrant background where parents worry about how their culture and tradition will be carried on. The expectation of how you’ll find a life partner and who that partner will be was so much a part of our everyday conversation growing up, that it felt natural for me to make that part of the story. In a sense, the secret empath society that Liam belongs to is as “foreign” as Lucky’s Indian heritage is in America. Each community has their own expectations and culture, and exploring them was both rewarding and a challenge.

Did you find portraying Liam with his Irish heritage to be a challenge moreso than bringing out the fierce independence of Lucky?

Patel responds: Definitely. Whenever you write outside your own experience, it takes a lot of research to get it “close” to right. I’ve made two trips to Ireland, and while that’s hardly enough to capture the Irish culture and heritage, my focus in writing Liam remained on capturing the emotional authenticity of someone his age plagued with familial and cultural expectations. I even hired an Irish editor to help with the Irish-English syntax and grammar, but I suspect writing from Liam’s point of view will be a challenge throughout the series. And as with any culture, a monolithic representation never does it justice. Irish culture, like Indian culture, can vary from region to region, and I hope to keep learning as the series progresses.

As you’ve written an Urban Fantasy set in a very Contemporary world arc – are you going to explore more of the fantastical bits in the rest of the series or keep those elements ‘out of sight’ on the lighter side of the spectrum?

Patel responds: I do have plans to explore more of Liam’s world in future series, although in my mind, the romance is the main story arc. At the moment, I’m planning a four book series that takes Laxshmi and Liam from America to Ireland and then to India. Once in Ireland, I’ll delve deeper into the politics and culture of the Council of Ministers and the Group of Elders, and in India, you’ll learn more about Laxshmi’s father’s history and Lucky’s ancestry—which will tie into a planned historical companion novella that describes the first soulmated empath couple from about 4500 years ago. It’s going to be incredibly challenging for me to write because of the amount of research I’ll need to do, but the historical aspect of Laxshmi and Liam’s story isn’t letting me go. It’s another challenge I’m looking forward to though.

What do you personally love about parapyschological elements (such as empaths) fused into genre fiction which allows you to step outside the tradition of where genre fiction moves through literary realms?

Patel responds: It certainly allows readers and writers to explore their imagination, doesn’t it? In my case, it allowed me to get to the heart of the young-adult/first-love experience in a new way. Describing how Liam interpreted his empath impressions gave me the freedom to use metaphorical language differently than I would’ve expected to. Creating an empath “dictionary” was a definite highlight of crafting this world.

What is your favourite scene or dialogue exchange between Liam and Lucky you believe epitomes their entire relationship built on trusting one’s heart in matters of love?

Patel responds: It might not be the most outwardly romantic scene, but when Laxshmi has to take out the recycling one night and runs into Liam, there’s something about how they connect that still gives me chills. Laxshmi happens to be upset, and even though this chapter is in her point of view, we see Liam, despite all his worldly experience, awkwardly trying to be there for her. For me, while they’re talking in the dark—where it’s not about what they look like—their vulnerabilities are exposed for the first time.

For readers familiar with Bollywood films and emotionally driven story-lines which integrate the joys and conflictions of the pressures of family who only seek the best for their children but sometimes forget to allow their children the free will to choose their own futures – what do you think those readers will love the most about curling into Soulmated!?

Patel responds: First and foremost, I think they’ll appreciate the familiarity of the pressures Indian parents may put on their children, and the emotional angst that can be a hallmark of the romance genre. The general expectation of Bollywood films is that there be a certain sense of melodrama, and to some degree, I think I’ve fulfilled that—romance is all about emotion, after all. But considering I was born and raised in the United States and brought up with a steady diet of both Bollywood films and music, as well as American television and pop culture, I hope I’ve achieved a more balanced approach that lets both storytelling traditions shine through.

Thank you for some truly wonderful questions!

Thank you Ms Patel! I wanted to add my responses under your lovely replies, however, I’ve been having tech issues this weekend, and I will have to wait to add them when my connection stablises! I loved this conversation!  This is also why your author biography and author photograph is missing. I will be editing this post as soon as I can! I apologise!

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 NOTE:

Similar to blog tours where I feature book reviews, as I choose to highlight an author via a Guest Post, Q&A, Interview, etc., I do not receive compensation for featuring supplemental content on my blog. I provide the questions for interviews and topics for the guest posts; wherein I receive the responses back from publicists and authors directly. I am naturally curious about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of stories and the writers who pen them; I have a heap of joy bringing this content to my readers.

 {SOURCES: Cover art for “Soulmated” along with the author photograph & biography, the book synopsis, the tour badge were all provided by Month9Books and used with permission. Tweets were able to be embedded by the codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers provided by Fun Stuff for Your Blog. Conversations with the Bookish banner made by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 30 January, 2017 by jorielov in Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Book Spotlight of E-Book (ahead of POD/print edition), China, Chinese Literature, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Folklore and Mythology, Good vs. Evil, Illustrations for Stories, Indie Author, Indie Book Trade, Month9Books, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Parapsychological Gifts, Stories on the Rise, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, YA Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction




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