Interview with Anjali Kapadia from THE SARI SHOP WIDOW by Shobhan Bantwal
Shobhan: Hey, Anjali, do you ever wonder why I set your story in Edison, New Jersey and not India, like my first two stories?
Anjali: It’s crossed my mind a couple of times, but I didn’t venture to ask you because I’m quite content living in the U.S. I was afraid that if I asked, you just might decide to give me a sequel and put me in some humourless little town in India. Who needs that kind of aggravation?
Shobhan: Excuse me! Did you say humourless little town? I happen to have set my two previous novels in a beautiful and picturesque hamlet, very similar to the one I was born and raised in. And there’s plenty of humour there.
Anjali: Really? Who would have thought there’s a real town by the name of Palgaum? I could have sworn you said it was fictitious in your author’s note in those books.
Shobhan: Sure it’s fictitious, but everything about it is very similar to my hometown of Belgaum, which I’m very fond and proud of, I’ll have you know.
Anjali: Oh, well, sorry to hurt your feelings, but I grew up in the U.S. so I’m grateful that my story takes place in Edison. I wouldn’t want it happening anywhere else.
Shobhan: I have to admit Edison’s a neat place, especially the area called Little India, where your store, Silk & Sapphires shines like a queen amongst the ordinary clothing stores. Very impressive!
Anjali: Thanks. I’ve worked hard to make it what it is, and so have my mom and dad. It’s our whole life; we work seven days a week.
Shobhan: I’ve never owned a business. So tell me, what does it feel like to imagine and create such lovely clothes and jewellery and watch people admiring and wearing them?
Anjali: It’s a great feeling. When an idea for a design starts swirling in my mind, I sketch it first, then have an expert tailor or jeweller make it. To see the finished product light up someone’s eyes is an emotion that can’t be described. You know something, it’s not unlike your idea for a novel, which you plot and create, and then readers tell you how much they enjoyed it.
Shobhan: You’re right. My ideas turn into multicultural books and yours turn into exotic clothes and accessories. We’re not that different, come to think of it. In fact, we’re so much alike.
Anjali: Don’t get carried away now. I hate to remind you, but you’re a middle-aged woman in an arranged marriage while I’m a young woman with a flair for fashion. Unlike you I married for love the first time around and if I ever marry again, it’ll be for love, too.
Shobhan: I realize that, my dear. Why do you think I’ve introduced this good-looking, mysterious, and sexy half Indian-half British hunk, Rishi Shah, into your life? Now do yourself a favour and go welcome him with a smile instead of giving him a suspicious frown.
Anjali: He may be a hunk, but believe me, if he’s my stingy, dictatorial uncle’s friend and partner I’m damn well going to be suspicious. There’s something very strange about him, and my uncle is behaving very oddly, too.
Shobhan: All right, Anjali, despite my advice I guess you’re going to be difficult after all. It’s your nature. But then, that’s what makes yours a good juicy story – full of conflict, passion, and high emotions. Enjoy the rollercoaster ride with your Indo-American hero.
Anjali: Hey, I know I’m stubborn and prickly, but I do appreciate what you did for me. Thanks for making me a heroine in your novel. Appreciate the generous gesture. No one’s ever made me a heroine before. I’m having a ball being the centre of attention in your book. And hey, don’t forget to drop by for my Grand Reopening Sale at Silk & Sapphires.
Thanks to The Plot for hosting me and Anjali, the protagonist of THE SARI SHOP WIDOW. The book is available at all U.S. and Canadian bookstores and online booksellers.
An excerpt of the novel, the book trailer video, recipes, contests, information on my previous books, short stories, and contact information are on my website: www.shobhanbantwal.com