Ever felt like you swallowed a water balloon that threatened to burst you open? Me neither. Well, not until the idea to write A New Mantra came to me. I remember the moment—authors often say that don’t they? And it sounds so “yeah, right” to the listener. But the truth is when it happens, and we have that “Aha!” moment, it stays with us forever. The moment for me happened while I was watching my then-five-year-old daughter play on the monkey bars. The story idea hit me. I’d always been fascinated by human relationships. Enduring ones. The ones that last decades and still feel as fresh as yesterday. Arranged marriages in particular intrigued me. I’d witnessed hundreds of them, over the course of my life—aunties, uncles, grandparents, great-parents, grand aunts, granduncles. They all shared one thing in common—they’d all met their spouses once before marrying them. Following which there was a super colorful, super long ceremony with lots of food, relatives, and loud music, in which they became husband and wife. And they remained spliced, ever after (happily, I hope).
The idea came to me to explore the other side of an arranged marriage—the woman’s side of the story, where something goes horribly wrong. I once read how it’s important when writing a romance story to put your heroine and/or hero through a mincer before giving them a spa day a.k.a. a happily ever after. So, I decided to do just that.
A New Mantra is a story set in Seattle, and it highlights the life of Mira Sood and her second chance at love after her husband’s affair, and a failed arranged marriage threatens to ruin her reputation within her traditional Indian community. Except, her second chance at love is shaped like a handsome white American man, named Andy Fitzgerald. Not ideal at all, considering Mira’s traditional, trying to salvage what she can of her image within her family.
As someone who became a runner by pure chance—my gym shut down for two weeks, and I was grumpy, so my husband coaxed me to go running with him. It was love at first sight. Don’t get me wrong, I hated the experience. But I loved the post-run endorphins. And up in Seattle where I live, next to coffee, fitness is everything. So, naturally, I added two plus two in my head and arrived at Mira deciding to impulsively run a half-marathon to cope with her heartbreak. I wanted my traditional, roti-making, wifely, Indian heroine to step outside her comfort zone. Run a little—well, a lot in her case. I wanted her to love again, but I wanted her to work for it. I wanted her happy, but really—really—sad, first.
I hope that if you choose to read my story that you’ll enjoy it. I hope you’ll walk away feeling spirited about yourself and what you think you can do to find happiness. Hey, if Mira Sood can do it, you can.
About the Author
Sapna lives in Seattle, WA with her perfectionist husband and perfect daughter. Her name in Hindi means “dream” and true to its meaning, Sapna finds gratification in dreams and storytelling. She was born in southern India, raised in northern India, and spent the better part of her adult life in the United States. She, therefore, unabashedly clutches her Indian roots while embracing the American in herself. She loves to cook traditional Indian food and, yes, she uses cilantro in practically everything. When she isn’t cooking, writing, or being intellectually stumped by her daughter, she may be found running down the nearest trail by her Pacific Northwest home. The inspiration for her debut novel, A New Mantra, has been her own journey as both a woman of color and a runner; the latter being a sport that was introduced to her by her husband.