I’ve said it before, but I really love finding out more about the authors behind the books I want to read or have read and loved. Today I’m back with another author interview. Namrata Patel is the author of The Candid Life of Meena Dave. A book about identity, family secrets, and rediscovering the need to belong is something that sounds right up my alley. This book released at the beginning of the month and today I want to tell you about the book and share my interview with this author.
A woman embarks on an unexpected journey into her past in an engrossing novel about identity, family secrets, and rediscovering the need to belong.
Meena Dave is a photojournalist and a nomad. She has no family, no permanent address, and no long-term attachments, preferring to observe the world at a distance through the lens of her camera. But Meena’s solitary life is turned upside down when she unexpectedly inherits an apartment in a Victorian brownstone in historic Back Bay, Boston.
Though Meena’s impulse is to sell it and keep moving, she decides to use her journalistic instinct to follow the story that landed her in the home of a stranger. It’s a mystery that comes with a series of hidden clues, a trio of meddling Indian aunties, and a handsome next-door neighbor. For Meena it’s a chance for newfound friendships, community, and culture she never thought possible. And a window into her past she never expected.
Now as everything unknown to Meena comes into focus, she must reconcile who she wants to be with who she really is.
What inspired you to start writing The Candid Life of Meena Dave?
At the start of the pandemic, we were jarred into living geographically smaller lives. Stuck inside, we were forced to re-define community. I kept thinking about travel and how confined I felt in being stuck in one place. It was such a big part of my life for decades and it came to a halt. I wondered what it would be like for someone who believed that their life was out in the world, a nomad, to have to stop moving. That’s when the story stirred. Ultimately, it was about our sense of home and what that means. I focused a lot on belonging and how we know when we are in a space that is ours. And as a person who straddles two separate ethnic identities, it has always been a conscious process. Am I the other in this space or is it mine? That’s what I wanted Meena Dave to explore. My inspiration comes from questions I want to understand deeper and in narrative form.
What has been your favorite part of your publishing journey so far?
It’s an odd answer because it’s not something I enjoy when I’m in the middle of it, but it’s the after having done it, that is my favorite. The editorial process. I’ve been writing and rewriting for a long time. It’s solitary and when someone reads your work, you want it to be perfect. Except, it rarely ever is – not even in final form. Going through the editorial process is always a place of growth for me. Someone with a critical eye seeing the gaps in the narrative, identifying tics that either I was doing for effect and missing the mark, or that I wasn’t aware. I grew as a writer. From development to copy editing it taught me to see my story not just from all that I want to say but also how to say it for the reader. That’s who I write for. I also learned to also believe in my story and the way I want it to unfold.
If you were a character in The Candid Life of Meena Dave, what kind of character would you be?
Oh wow, this is a tough one. I’d want to be Wally’s dog walker/pet sitter. I love this fictional pup and he does need a heavy hand at training. His human, Sam, is a big softy and Wally completely takes advantage and wants to be spoiled by all the people, especially the aunties. I think spending time in and out of the Engineer’s House because of my puppy duties would give me a little taste of what it’s like to be in their world but then I can give Wally back and stay out of the drama as it unfolds.
Describe The Candid Life of Meena Dave in five words or less.
A nomad finds home.
What is your favorite quote from this book?
Bravery isn’t in big battles; but in small acts.
What do you hope readers take away from The Candid Life of Meena Dave?
First and foremost, I want readers to be entertained. Second, learn a little about Indian Americans through a different lens. And thirds, to feel familiarity and relatability with the characters.
What’s next for you? Anything you can tell us readers about?
I’m working on my next book, which is slated to be out June 2023, from Lake Union. It’s about a perfumer who loses her sense of smell and has to find another purpose/passion.
It was so interesting to read Namata’s answers and this book sounds amazing. I’ll definitely be making time for it soon!