Sara Desai has been a lawyer, radio DJ, marathon runner, historian, bouncer and librarian. She lives on Vancouver Island with her family and an assortment of forest creatures who think they are pets. Sara writes diverse romantic comedy and contemporary romance. Her books have appeared in Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire, Pop Sugar, Bustle, Buzzfeed, Frolic, USA Today, Woman’s World and Hello! Canada. When not laughing at her own jokes, Sara can be found eating nachos. Visit Sara at www.saradesai.com
Daisy Patel is a software engineer who understands lists and logic better than bosses and boyfriends. With her life all planned out, and no interest in love, the one thing she can’t give her family is the marriage they expect. Left with few options, she asks her childhood crush to be her decoy fiance. Sparks fly when Daisy and Liam go on a series of dates to legitimize their fake relationship. Too late, they realize that very little is convenient about their arrangement. History and chemistry aren’t about to follow the rules of this engagement.
Interviewed by Hope Lauterbach
Hope Lauterbach (HL): From page one, The Dating Plan is filled with memorable characters and snappy banter, but culture and family play equally important roles in the narrative. How important for you was it to get those details right?
Sara Desai (SD): Culture and family are important themes in the book and I wanted to share with readers two contrasting cultures and family experiences to demonstrate that when it comes to love we are not so different after all. As a biracial (Indian/Irish) author, I was able to draw on my experience with both cultures to share some of the things I enjoy most about each one–Indian food and Irish humor; Irish stories and Indian aunties. While I always strive for accuracy and authenticity, I admit to exercising some artistic license for comedic purposes 🙂
HL: The Dating Plan plays with character point-of-view by alternating chapters between the leading woman, Daisy, and the leading man, Liam. How did you decide the division of scenes?
SD: I wanted to give both characters equal time on the page so readers could be part of their respective journeys. When I felt a scene or event would impact a character more, or if I felt a character’s inner motivation for a particular action needed to be made clear to a reader, I would switch viewpoints. For example, the first time Liam takes Daisy on his motorcycle, we already know he is happy and excited because we’ve seen how much he loves to ride and how desperately he has wanted to share this experience with Daisy. What we don’t know is what Daisy thinks about the ride and I enjoyed sharing her thoughts (and her pain!) on that bumpy journey.
HL: Romance comedies often rely on familiar tropes, such as the “meet-cute”, the honeymoon period, the breakup and inevitable makeup. What do you do to make the genre your own?
I think the combination of the characters and setting make The Dating Plan a unique story. A South Asian STEM main character from a broken family struggling to find herself in a male dominated profession meets the Irish rogue who is trying to reinvent himself after breaking her heart and breaking from his past, all wrapped up in the warmth and meddling of a big South Asian family!
HL: Now, I have to ask about sex scenes. No spoilers, but consent is an important topic that you emphasize on several occasions. What are your tips, or perhaps cautions for writing these intimate moments?
SD: When I mentor new authors, I always remind them that sex scenes are not about sex but about emotion. It is tempting to focus on the mechanics instead of the intimacy that is essential to the development of the relationship. These tender moments are opportunities for the characters to open up and expose their vulnerabilities, to trust and be trusted, to share secrets, hopes and dreams. Establishing consent at the beginning of each scene is very important. The emotional growth that comes from an intimate scene isn’t believable if both parties have not freely chosen to pursue that deeper connection. Finally, it should be fun. Teasing and laughter add as much to a sex scene as the hotter moments.
HL: Your book, The Marriage Game, released last year featured Layla Patel who plays a supporting role in The Dating Plan. Will there be any familiar faces in your upcoming novel, The Singles Table?
SD: Layla and Daisy make only fleeting appearances in The Singles Table because the story is focused on another branch of the family. However, connecting all three stories are the loving, meddling aunties, many of whom return to cause havoc for poor Zara. I have also thrown a few Easter eggs into the story for readers of The Marriage Game, and in particular, one of Layla’s failed bachelors who may (or may not) be in the CIA makes a reappearance.