If you want to learn a bit more about this book, below is a spoiler-free Q&A on the novel. First up however, the cover and blurb:
This is not that story.
How about the story where the girl is engaged to the nicest guy in the world, but the appearance of a mysterious hunk rocks her world off its axis and makes her wonder if she should select sexy instead of sweet?
This isn’t that story, either.
My story does however, include a man I’m going to marry and a man that…
You’ll find out soon enough..."
She just didn’t think one of them might be a stalker she never knew she had, and another to come in the form of Sebastian Lowe, her fiancé’s best friend!
Seb thinks he’s saving his childhood friend from marrying the wrong girl and will stop at nothing to get his way.
But as unforeseen circumstances force Shell and Seb to work together, will she be able to prove to Seb that he’s wrong about her? Or will Seb succeed in splitting the bride and groom apart forever?
Spoiler Free Q&A
Q: What was the main inspiration behind If I Say Yes?
A: The idea for this story just popped into my head one day, out of the blue. Of course, it’s not a completely original idea, as the female protagonist Shell alludes to in the Prologue (which is also the opening quote of the book blurb), but I can’t say for sure why it felt like such a good idea to write this story, but with my own angle on it.
When I got this idea, I was in the middle of planning/writing two other projects, both of which were in the paranormal romance/urban fantasy genre, and I didn’t think I’d be writing If I Say Yes until I was done with those, but I just felt like writing this book first. It’s one of those things that happens to authors when they have multiple story ideas but feel like writing one book more than the others.
Seb’s character however, was inspired by a real life person. A person I’ve never met, mind you, just heard about from a relative of mine. Unlike Seb who’s in his 20s, his character was inspired by a teenager actually, a boy who is best friends with my cousin’s teenage son, and he’s like the third son to my cousin, having grown up and learned about Bengali culture and tradition from an early age through his friendship with my cousin’s son.
Seen as Seb was going to be the ‘white best friend’ of Shell’s fiancé, Imran, I didn’t want to go down the predictable route where it’s a culture clash for him when he gets involved in Imran’s wedding to Shell. It would be typical to have Seb question the traditions of Bengali weddings and find everything new and amusing, not getting it, and so on. And these guys are supposed to be best friends from childhood, so wouldn’t Seb learn about Bengali culture from his friend? I’m really glad I had that random conversation with my cousin’s wife about her son’s white best friend who feels more a part of his friend’s family than his own. I guess that conversation in 2015 planted the seed for this book?
Q: What did you enjoy most about writing If I Say Yes?
A: Since August 2010, I’ve been spending time with the same group of characters: Mukti, Jamie and co. from my other contemporary romance series, the Soulmates Saga; and Ellie, Christian and co. from the Poison Blood Series. So, it was a pleasure creating and developing a new set of characters to fall in love with. Like making new friends, it was exciting yet nerve-wracking. There was some uncertainty, too: How will things turn out? Did I make the right choices? Will everyone else like them, too?
A: I think the scene where the stalker situation is resolved is my favourite (sorry I can’t give more details, but I’m trying to keep the spoilers out). It was a real turning point for Shell, where she got to see the true colours of the people around her.
Q: Do you have a writing routine? Has it changed over the years?
A: Things have changed a lot since I started writing Chasing Pavements (Soulmates Saga #1) in August 2010, my debut novel. At that time, I was single and working full-time in the financial services sector. I wrote during the evenings and weekends, and wrote at least 3,000 words each evening, and a whole lot more during the weekends.
Seven years on, I’m married and out of work due to illness. You may have read my post titled ‘When Life Imitates Art ~ An author’s tale’, where I revealed that I suffer from severe, chronic and constant lower-back pain, which worsens considerably if I sit or stand for more than 15-20 minutes. As a result, I can’t write every day, anymore. Some weeks, I don’t write at all due to the pain, and of course family responsibilities.
I wrote over 90% of If I Say Yes while lying in bed, on my stomach. It was hard on the arms and elbows ~ but that pain dissipated quickly ~ but at least my back pain didn’t worsen. Prior to April 2017, I did all my writing ~ novels and blog posts ~ in that fashion.
Then I found out I was pregnant, and it’s not ideal to be lying on your bump anymore, is it?
But I really want to write the conclusion to the Love & Alternatives duology ~ If I Say No ~ as well as those PNR/UF projects I mentioned earlier, and so I have no choice but to write whilst sitting down. Yes, the pregnancy adds to the back pain, worsens it big time, and because I can’t take my regular medication for the pain due to the pregnancy, things are pretty difficult at the moment. It’s only my love ~ and need ~ for writing that coerces me to spend a few hours each week sitting and writing. If I didn’t love it so much, I wouldn’t be doing it. The accompanying pain just wouldn’t be worth it.
And so, I try to write as much as I can, when I can, though my aim is to write at least a chapter whenever I sit down with my laptop, around 1,500 words on average (taking lots of breaks and doing lots of stretches every few minutes).
I’m not changing my writing methods though, and so, I always go over what I wrote during the previous session, to catch up with what’s happening and get back in the zone, and editing that section as I go. I think most authors do this.
Once the first rough draft is done, I go back to the beginning and do a quick revision, adding any scenes or descriptions where needed, seeing how the story flows. If I end up adding lots of new material throughout the novel, I will go back and do another quick light round of revision to see how things flow now.
Then I take a break from the manuscript. At least a month. Afterwards, the real editing begins, and I revise the manuscript to death, until I hate everything I’ve written and think its utter rubbish.
Then, another break. For a month, if I can afford it, or at least 2 weeks. A few more rounds of serious editing follows, and I only stop when I start loathing the book and don’t want to lay my eyes on it ever again.
I have become a better editor now though, so the process is more efficient ~ I’d done a lot of editing for books, research papers and blogs in my job in the financial services sector, so I can be very patient with the process.
Before the novel is ready for anyone else’s eyes however, I convert the Word file into e-book format and download it onto my Kindle or iPhone to do my own round of proof-reading, where the mistakes pop out easily. It’s also a nice change after staring at the laptop screen for months and months!
Nonetheless, the release of If I Say No will be delayed, as will the other projects I’m working on. And when the baby arrives ~ the due date is end of November 2017 ~ I don’t think I’ll have much time to do anything for myself, let alone reading and writing. We’ll see, I suppose.
Q: How does the Love & Alternatives series compare to the Soulmates Saga?
A: The Love & Alternatives series isn’t as dark or heavy as the Soulmates Saga, even though it does tackle a few serious issues. It also has a sweeter vibe to it, and the main characters are less troubled and tormented than those in the Soulmates Saga.
If I Say Yes is written from three characters’ POVs and in the first person, with two of those characters having more page time than the third character. It’s the first time I’ve tried this ~ the Poison Blood Series is written in the first person, but it’s mainly from Ellie’s POV, with a little from Christian thrown in here and there (though Book 2 is entirely from his POV).
The Soulmates Saga on the other hand, is written in what I call ‘biased third-party narrative’ and though it’s mainly the lead protagonists that dominate page time, we do hear from many other characters, too. It’s biased because, when I write from Mukti’s ‘point of view’, the narrative matches her style of thinking/speaking and anything she doesn’t know, won’t feature in the sections that are from her ‘POV’. More about this in my POV post if you’re interested. Anyway, if you’ve read Dan Brown, you’ll know what I mean by biased third-party narrator; he does it so, so well!
If I Say Yes is more fast-paced than the novels in the Soulmates Saga, but that’s not to say that Chasing Pavements, Make You Feel My Love and Someone Like You are slow-burners, either.
Q: How does Shell compare to Mukti from the Soulmates Saga?
A: Both Shell and Mukti are young British Bangladeshi Muslims that were born and bred in London, but their personalities are very different. They’ve had different upbringings, too, their family dynamics worlds apart: Shell has a close, loving family and has a great relationship with her parents and siblings, whereas Mukti has always felt like an outsider amongst her kin, and that has solidified further when you first meet her in Chasing Pavements, due to her past and secrets.
Mukti’s past has turned her into someone that doesn’t fully integrate with the world around her ~ she just does enough to get by. However, Mukti achieves as much as, if not more than, what most young women that haven’t been through what she has in academia and the work place. Shell doesn’t have a past or any secrets ~ it’s in If I Say Yes where her past begins, so to speak. It’s a truly coming of age story for Shell.
They’re both hard-working, professional women, though Mukti is more creative and artistic than Shell.
A: When you first meet these characters, I’d say Seb and Imran are more instantly likeable than Jamie, Imran more than Seb. The male characters in If I Say Yes are more open and honest with the reader, and have a great friendship with each other, whereas Jamie is an introverted recluse. Jamie goes through more change and character development in Chasing Pavements though, and you do fall in love with him by the end of the book.
The two best friends in If I Say Yes are so different from each other in terms of personality ~ Seb is loud, brash and bit of a commitment-phobe; Imran is the deep thinker, quiet, reserved, but he embraces the idea of settling down with his fiancé, Shell, the perfect woman for him ~ and they couldn’t be more different from Jamie. However, Jamie is like Imran when it comes to settling down; he’s ready for the happy ever after with the woman that he loves. She just needs to get to that phase, too.
That’s it folks. Hope you enjoyed the interview. Don't forget to download If I Say Yes this weekend for FREE. Get it here from the Kindle US store! And from here if you're a Kindle UK customer.
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