TODAY IS THE OFFICIAL RELEASE OF SOULMATED, BOOK #1 IN THE JOINING OF THE SOULS SERIES!
I’m excited. Are you excited? You need to get your hands on this fun book ASAP. To feed my own excitement (and yours!) the author, Shaila Patel, agreed to do an interview with me because she spoils me rotten. *wink* Shaila is such a sweet, spunky soul who makes everyone around her feel loved. It only makes sense that she likes to write about love when she’s so good at showing it. She also is insanely creative and silly—I accidentally left my umbrella with her last I saw her, and she’s named it and probably developed some backstory to go with it.
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?
Without further ado, I give you Shaila Patel!
Are there areas that you see yourself in Lucky?
Most definitely. It would be next to impossible not to slip snippets of my younger life into Lucky (Laxshmi’s nickname)—being that we’re both first generation Indian-American. While our exact experiences are nothing alike, I grew up in a strict household where I didn’t feel I had any choices. That’s pretty much a hallmark of young adult fiction, though, isn’t it? And it’s also a theme that runs through Soulmated: craving the freedom to make your own choices in life and accepting the consequences when you do.
How did your own experiences as an Indian American shape how you wrote Lucky?
It became a well of inspiration to be honest. Thinking of (maybe even dredging up!) my own experiences and those of my friends’ wasn’t always easy because I had to understand and empathize with both Lucky and her mom to do their characters justice. Lucky wouldn’t be Lucky without her mother’s influence, after all. The funny thing is, I feel there’s a lot of my current self in Moira in this book and in book 2.
What kind of research did you have to do for Liam’s character and his family’s heritage? How did you manage to make him so swoon-worthy?
Whenever you write outside your own experience, it takes a lot of research to get it even close to being 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 while plagued with familial and cultural expectations. I did a lot of research in the Irish-English syntax and grammar and even hired an Irish editor to help with that. I suspect writing from Liam’s point of view will be a challenge throughout the series, and so the research will continue. 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 for making him swoon-worthy, I’m not sure how I managed that! Lol! I know that during revisions I had to pay a lot of attention to his character growth and development. An early editor had beat it into my brain (in a good way!) that I had to settle on what type of hero he was going to be before I continued. She was right. He was a hot mess at first, and when I sat down with my characterization goals for him, I realized I didn’t want to make him perfect—that was too easy and too boring—but I did want him to be relatable. (And it doesn’t hurt that I personally think he’s gorgeous! Lol!)
How did writing from two perspectives differ than writing from one narrative?
Good question! I had to pay a TON of attention to voice—and Liam’s Irish-English did not make that any easier. Sometimes I had to re-read a previous chapter of Liam’s to get back into the cadence of his language. But voice isn’t just about word choice. It’s also about the gender of the character and how s/he thinks. It’s even about their external influences affecting their thought processes and reactions. It wasn’t always easy, but nothing hit that point home like when I had to change a chapter into the other character’s point of view. It was amazing how little things had to change to compensate for a new narrator.
So this next book – I know I’m waiting anxiously. Will Lucky and Liam have all their questions answered?
Ah! I can’t give that away, can I??? Let’s just say, I’m a firm believer in happily-ever-afters, but a resolved romance in book 2 of a 4 book series would kill the story! I can say this, however: their relationship takes a significant step forward and many little steps backward. I hate to be vague, but you’ll just have to wait for book 2!
Thanks for having me!