We’ve been talking a LOT about this much-buzzed book (which incidentally, recently added New York Times bestseller to its list of accolades!) but this week, we wanted to learn a little more about the mind(s) behind the book. To that end, Sandhya and her editor Jennifer Ung shared with us this little glimpse behind the scenes:
SANDHYA: I always get asked if I’m a Dimple or Rishi (I get flak for this because I’m totally a mix of the two, but people don’t seem to believe me)! Now it’s time for you to tell us which one you are, Jen!
JEN: Dimple, for sure. I was and continue to be a stubborn Asian-American girl who refuses to wear make-up, who should maybe listen to her mother more than she’d like to admit. Also I drink so much iced coffee it practically runs in my veins.
SANDHYA: It was delightful for me, as a huge rom-com fan, to write an Indian-American rom-com. Can you tell me why you wanted to edit a romantic comedy?
JEN: I devoured romantic comedies as a teen (and currently, as an adult), so it felt natural to want to pursue them as a YA editor. There are just so many opportunities in rom-coms for the characters to explore big questions that extend so far beyond the romance at hand — What do I want in a future? What does family and tradition mean to me? Etc. — and the good ones always do so in way that still feels simultaneously meaningful and bright and hopeful. I think that’s the thing: Rom-coms always give me hope, and for that reason alone, I’ll never stop loving them.
Also of note, most of the rom-coms I loved as a teen were overwhelmingly white, and so it means a lot to me that Dimple stars two Indian-American teens, front and center, falling in love and figuring out their futures, to hilarious and heartwarming results.
SANDHYA: This is pretty self-serving, but can you tell me what you thought when you read my first draft? I ask because I was *really* nervous about you seeing it for the first time since we hadn’t worked together yet.
JEN: This is somewhere in my email archives, I’m sure, but as soon as I finished your first draft, I believe I sent you an email with the subject line “i am sobbing” (no capitalization, punctuation, probably no content in the actual email). I was truly taken off guard by how remarkable, how earth-shaking, it was to read an experience that so closely reflected my own. It was one of the first times I’ve ever read a book and felt so deeply seen. I don’t think I’ll ever find the perfect words to articulate how important that felt. But it was wonderful, and my hope is that many children of immigrants read Dimple and feel something close to that.
SANDHYA: I think I know the answer to this question, but if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be? (My money is on cheese popcorn!)
JEN: I actually get this question a lot (so random, I know), and so I didn’t even have to think about it. Salmon sashimi! In this hypothetical situation, I’m assuming mercury poisoning is not a concern?
And yes, cheese popcorn is a very close second. You know me too well.
Now how about some questions for you? Other than Dimple and Rishi, of course, who was your favorite character to write?
SANDHYA: Ashish! I love-hated his sassiness and little jock brother cockiness so much. But he was also really vulnerable and needed his big brother, the juxtaposition of which made me want to simultaneously shake him and hug him.
JEN: What’s been your favorite part of the publication process so far? (Other than working with me, natch. ;))
SANDHYA: Working with you by far! Oh, shoot, you said “other than.” 😉 Definitely seeing the enthusiasm of readers grow as more and more people got the ARC and then the finished copies! Those emails from people who finally saw themselves in a light, funny YA? Incomparable.
JEN: As you know, we’ve gotten to the point in our working relationship where we communicate our emotions and thoughts to each other almost exclusively via dog memes. What’s your favorite dog breed, and why? (This will also be helpful to know for future correspondence!)
SANDHYA: Omg definitely golden retrievers. I’m a little obsessed.
JEN: If you could only drink one iced beverage for the rest of your life, what would it be?
SANDHYA: Caramel frap, because I keep things simple! (Otherwise I get confused.)