Writing and Bollywood Confidential

Feb 21 22:58 2007 Shalla de Guzman Print This Article

SHALLA CHATS with multi-culti chick lit author, Sonia Singh

So,Guest Posting who’s Sonia?

Sonia Singh is a first-generation Indo-American, born and raised in Orange County, California. Unlike Maya, the heroine of GODDESS FOR HIRE, Sonia loves India and travels there once a year. Goddess for Hire is her first novel (BOLLYWOOD CONFIDENTIAL--her second--is due out in June 2005). From 2000 to 2002 she lived in Bombay, where she wrote episodes for a Hindi soap opera. It was a fun experience, but she moved back because her pay, in rupees, barely provided for a nice shanty on the highway.

Shalla: Hi Sonia. So many writers are very interested in learning more about writing multi-culti chick lit so thanks for talking with us.

Sonia: You’re very welcome!  Thanks for inviting me!

Shalla: Chick Lit was still very new when you wrote Goddess for Hire, what made you decide to write a multi-culti chick lit? What inspired you?

Sonia: I didn’t realize I was writing chick lit when I started Goddess for Hire.  I just wanted to write a story I’d had in my head for a long time.  The kind of story I like to read.

Shalla: Where do you get your stories? Folk Tales/Fairy Tales from India? Serendipity?

Sonia: Do I know any fairy tales from India?  I’m sure I’ve got a book somewhere…Not to sound too metaphysical but I get my ideas from the universe/my subconscious/the great unknown.  Sometimes one of my characters will say something and I’m like, where did that come from?

Shalla: How do you handle writing dialogue? Any tips on writing dialects and accents?

Sonia: I really enjoy writing dialogue.  The key to writing dialogue, whether or not you’re using dialects or accents, is to listen to the people around you.  How do they talk?  After you’re written a few scenes I recommend reading the pages out loud. 

Often you think you’ve written stellar conversation only to find out when you read it aloud that the characters sound wooden and lame.  I also recommend being careful when writing dialects and accents because you don’t want your characters sounding like stereotypes.  Example: A Mexican character who sounds like Speedy Gonzales. 

Shalla: Any tips on writing funny characters? Can they be too funny?

Sonia:  Tips on writing comedy?  Ask Chris Rock--he’s the master! 

I’m not sure characters can be too funny.  For me there’s funny and there’s not-funny.  Nothing in between.  I’m so happy that you find my characters funny.  Some of my family members think I have no sense of humor. 

Shalla: What kind of chick lit are you seeing editors/publishers buying now? (Ie. Anti Sex and the City?)

Sonia: It does seem like editors are acquiring what’s known as ethnic chick lit. 

I do think all the Bridget Jones-rip offs are on the way out.  Like the single girl in the city working in magazine publishing and struggling with dating…

Shalla: Do you recommend getting an agent? Why?

Sonia: Hell, yes!  Unless you’re someone who knows the business of publishing like the back of your hand--you need an agent. 

Then again, even if you know the business of publishing like the back of your hand, you still should get an agent.  I’m not saying writers shouldn’t educate themselves about the market, but an agent is someone who goes to bat for you and the 10% or 15% cut they take is SO worth it. 

Shalla: Does a freelance editor or a critique group read your manuscript before you submit it to your publisher? What do you think of using freelance editors and/or joining a critique group?

Sonia: I’ve never used a freelance editor so I can’t comment on that but I do recommend joining a critique group. 

I love my critique group and they usually see pages before my agent or editor does.  It’s important that your critique group is composed of people you trust.  I met the members of my group in a writing class. 

Shalla: Any tips for aspiring novelists? Join RWA or another writer’s group? Do you belong to RWA?

Sonia: I do belong to RWA.  The Orange County chapter gets fabulous speakers.  Whether your question is about writing or the business of publishing, RWA has the answers. 

My biggest tip for any aspiring novelist is to take a writing class.  I took one class through the extended education department at Cal State Fullerton and another one at UC Irvine--two of the best decisions I ever made.  I met other writers, learned about writer’s conferences, and sharpened my writing skills. 

Another tip I have is READ, READ, READ!  I don’t know how someone can be a writer and not a reader.  My biggest indulgence is books.  When I was a kid the librarians always knew me by name.  Storytelling is an art form so pick up a good book and start learning.

Shalla: Finally, are Maya and other Goddesses in Bollywood Confidential?

Sonia: Sadly, no goddesses make an appearance in Bollywood Confidential.  I’m confident I have their blessings though. 

Shalla: Thanks lots Sonia. It’s very nice meeting you! For more on Sonia Singh, please visit www.goddessforhire.com

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About Article Author

Shalla de Guzman
Shalla de Guzman

Shalla DeGuzman- is a former writer and producer of a health and fitness cable show, is currently writing a novel. She is President of The ShallaDeGuzman Writers Group where she interviews literary agents, publishers, editors, etc.

For more on Shalla www.shalladeguzman.com

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