Award-winning author Sajni Patel was born in vibrant India and raised in the heart of Texas. She draws on personal experiences, cultural expectations, and Southern flair to create worlds centered around strong Indian women. Once in MMA, she’s now all about puppies, rainbows, and tortured love stories. She divides her time between Hawai’i (where honu is her #1 obsession) and Austin (where she not-so-secretly watches Matthew McConaughey from afar during UT football games). Queso is her weakness and thanks to her family’s cooking, Indian/Tex-Mex cuisine is a real thing. She’s a die-hard Marvel Comics fan, an ube fanatic, and is always wrapped up in a story. Visit her at www.sajnipatel.com
The Gloss Book Club: How did you get into writing and what inspired you to write your first book?
Sajni Patel: I’ve been writing since I was ten years old. I vaguely remember my first piece being a short story about vampire bunnies complete with Crayola-colored artwork. I was a voracious reader at that age. Book Fair Day was my jam. Stories were my world.
My mind was always wandering off, imagining, creating whenever I wasn’t stuck in a book or graphic novel. I was encouraged by teachers and friends to write more. I let my creativity run rampant with extraordinary amounts of plot holes and inconsistencies.
Over time, I realized that writing was an actual profession and wondered if I could dare dream of becoming an author. I switched gears to writing professionally, I took inspiration from personal experiences and things I’ve always wanted to say and situations where I wanted a redo and focused on the things that made me me. The intersectionality of so many areas of being an Indian immigrant woman growing up in the heart of Texas.
TGBC: What makes a book great, in your opinion? What elements does a great story possess?
SP: There are various facets to what makes a story great for me. I love plot-driven stories but also amazing character arcs. The story can be realistic or fantastical, but it can only draw me in and keep me hooked with good writing. Sweeping, seamless threading of words. I want to feel what the characters are feeling, be immersed in their world and forget where I am. I love a story that plucks out my emotions and can get me upset, make me cry, laugh, all of it. And I know it’s a great book when the characters linger for days or weeks afterward, when I’m thinking man, I wish I could’ve written that, or I wish I could write that!
TGBC: What are you doing if you’re not writing?
SP: I’m a homebody. I’m going to be watching tv, playing with my dogs, learning to draw digitally, and recently I’ve discovered bullet journaling! So, there’s a taste of how exciting I am.
TGBC: Name your favourite bookshop in the world.
SP: I enjoy my hometown bookstore, BookPeople, in Austin, TX. I love to wander the aisles and smell books and sift through trinkets and unique, local finds and of course partake of their café where the baristas like to make up drinks to pair with books. I particularly love how they focus on local authors and artists and are very community-driven.
TGBC: Physical book, e-book, or audiobook? – and why.
SP: I like each one! It all depends on my mood and focus level. Physical books because of the smell and feel; it’s easy on the eyes and is very nostalgic for days I want to curl up. E-books because they’re readily available and I can jump across stories. And my newly discovered love of audiobooks (especially horror) because who doesn’t like being read to in the dark?
TGBC: What was your favourite book as a child?
SP: Oh, gosh! Sideways Stories from Wayside School was such a fun book about these quirky kids in a school where the classrooms were built on top of one another in a ridiculously tall building, and of course, whacky adventures ensued.
TGBC: We’re always on the hunt for our next great read. Recommend us a book to add to our TBR pile!
SP: I loved Mexican Gothic on audiobook. I recommend listening to it at night with the lights off.
TGBC: What is one movie, TV series, or podcast that you’re loving right now?
SP: The Witcher. If you’re into a grumpy Henry Cavill, multiple plotlines, intricate characterization, and converging timelines, give it a try!