November 2022

One book, four charming love stories

Interview by
Debut YA author Maya Prasad reveals how she created her season-by-season ode to romance, sisterhood and the Pacific Northwest.
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In Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things, Maya Prasad follows the four Singh sisters—big sister Nidhi, twins Avani and Rani, and Sirisha, the youngest—through a life-changing year as they find love, healing, adventure and more. Their story unfolds against the idyllic backdrop of the Songbird Inn, their family’s home and business on Orcas Island, nestled on the Pacific Northwest coast in Washington state. 

Can you give us a quick introduction to your debut novel and the four Singh sisters?
Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things is the story of the four Singh sisters over four seasons as they navigate new passions, breathtaking kisses and the bustle of their father’s cozy cliffside inn. 

Fall begins with Nidhi, the eldest practical sister. She thinks she has her life planned out. Winter moves on to Avani, who can’t sit still. If she does, her grief for Pop, their dad’s late husband, will overwhelm her. In spring, we come to Sirisha, who has always felt more comfortable hiding behind the lens of her camera than actually speaking to people—especially pretty girls. Summer is when hopeless romantic Rani finds that her Bollywood fantasies might finally be coming true!

How did you decide which sister’s story would unfold in which season?
Each sister’s story has a thematic connection to the season: letting go like an autumn leaf, dealing with the bitter cold of loss, allowing new love to blossom like a springtime bud and celebrating dreams finally coming into fruition.

Like the Singhs, you are one of four siblings. Are any aspects of the Singh sisters’ relationships with one another drawn from your own family?
There isn’t a one-to-one correlation between the Singh sisters and my family, but I did draw from familiar sibling dynamics: Nidhi’s maternal practicality as the eldest; Sirisha’s feeling as if her sisters have everything figured out and wondering how she can speak among so many loud voices; the sibling mind melds as well as the clashes; and the chaos and laughter that come with a big family.

One of the things I really love about the novel is how your prose shifts during each sister’s section to reflect her perspective. How did you arrive at that approach?
It was both a pleasure and a challenge to be able to create four different voices. For each sister, I used a different device related to their personalities: Nidhi’s lists, Avani’s verse, Sirisha’s contrasts between what she wants to say and what she actually says, and the screenplay bits that represent Rani’s forays into Bollywood fantasies.

”I think that’s what we’re all truly searching for: to be celebrated for being ourselves.”

But creating unique voices involved more than that; I also differentiated each sister’s sentence structures and tics. Introspective Nidhi’s voice feels the most classic and traditional to me, with some lyrical descriptions to represent her dreamy side. Avani has a lot of parenthetical asides to represent how she often gets distracted. Short fragments in Sirisha’s section are like the snapshots she’s always taking; they also represent how she has trouble expressing herself verbally. Finally, Rani’s voice is imbued with a lot of humor and has a mix of colloquial language and hyperbolic grandeur.

In the end, voice is about creating a unique worldview. Since I was writing Indian American characters, I hoped to show that we are not a monolith, and that each sister is an individual with their own dreams and ambitions and relationship to their identity.

Which sister’s section was the most challenging to write and why? Whose was the most fun and why?
Avani’s verse sections were definitely a challenge! I hadn’t experimented with the medium much and I was a little nervous. But it was important for me to try, because I think that poetry can truly bring out the emotions of grief and loss in a way that feels visceral and resonant.

Nidhi’s midnight adventure was my favorite chapter to write. I loved playing with the language to evoke the feeling of escape and beauty in the darkness. I hope readers will find it swoony and breathtaking!

Each sister’s romance hits such individual emotional notes. How did you decide what kind of love story each sister would experience? 
Just as the seasons are related thematically, I developed each love story to correspond with the sisters’ character arcs. They each find someone who understands and appreciates their unique qualities, as well as someone who not only sees past their flaws but maybe even sees those flaws as strengths. I think that’s what we’re all truly searching for: to be celebrated for being ourselves.

”It’s vital for teens to know that while romantic love is wonderful, there are so many ways to find joy in this world.”

The sisters have really specific interests, from baking and mural art to photography to romance novels and Bollywood movies and more. Researching these different topics must have been so fun! What did you learn that surprised you? Were there any interests or hobbies that you didn’t have to research at all?
I did a fair amount of research for Sirisha’s photography because I didn’t know any of the lingo or techniques. It actually gave me good insights to improve my own Instagram photography! With the rest, it was more just small things: looking up recipes, rewatching Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, that sort of thing. 

I really wanted the setting to be solid though, so once we’d signed the deal, I had a wonderful excuse to visit Orcas Island. The San Juan Islands are a favorite weekend getaway for me, but it had been a few years since I’d been to Orcas. It was delightful to drive around and imagine where the Songbird Inn might actually be located.

Surprising tidbit: Orcas Island isn’t named after killer whales! The origin comes from the Spanish name Horcasitas, in honor of the Spanish explorer Juan Vicente de Guemes Padilla Horcasitas y Aguayo.

What were your inspirations for the utterly delightful Songbird Inn, where much of the novel takes place?
The Songbird Inn is definitely fictional but it was inspired by gorgeous vacation rentals I’ve stayed in while visiting the San Juans and the Canadian Gulf Islands. I knew I wanted the inn to be set on a cliffside with panoramic views, and that it should be south facing to allow the sisters to enjoy both sunsets and sunrises over the water. The details were inspired by Pacific Northwest architecture: Craftsman-style elegance with bay windows and coffered ceilings and cozy fireplaces, and large decks where it feels like you’re peering off the edge of the world. 

What are some of your favorite fictional sisterhoods and why?
There should really be more sister stories, period! As the middle sister, I related a lot to Lara Jean in Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, particularly the portrayal of the period when eldest sis is off to college and suddenly you’re supposed to be setting a good example for your cheeky younger sis—who may or may not have a better social life than you.

There’s also Little Women of course, and the nonbiological sisters of Ann Brashares’ The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. We too had a pair of jeans that looked amazing on all of us—even though my younger sister is much taller than me. Magic!

The wonderful thrum of family hums in the background of your novel, and by the end of the book, you’ve widened the lens of what a love story can mean to encompass the Singh family’s love for each other. Why was that important for you to do here?
Thank you! I think it’s vital for teens to know that while romantic love is wonderful, there are so many ways to find joy in this world. This novel is a celebration of the love the sisters have for each other, for their father, for their community, for the home they’ve built and—most importantly—for themselves.

What’s something about this book that you’re wholly, unabashedly proud of?
I’m incredibly proud to have created a work of joyful representation for Indian American teens! I think we need escapism, we need those cozy warm hug vibes, and we need to see ourselves as beautiful and worthy of love.

Read our review of ’Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things.’

Author photo of Maya Prasad courtesy of Jamilah Newcomer.

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