I was introduced to Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi, when a friend asked me to take her pictures just like the novel’s cover girl; followed by, “You should read this book. It’s a cute love story between these two Indian characters.”
Read I did, and through it, all, resonated with the issues the characters went through. Whether it’s liking a person who might or might not like you back, to what it feels like being a person of color in a country where you are a minority… When Dimple Met Rishi is a melting pot of conversations we all have had or would like to have.
Q1. How did the idea for your debut YA novel, When Dimple Met Rishi came about? The storyline focuses on computer science and related fields; does this also happen to be your area of interest?
When Dimple Met Rishi was born from the fierce need for a light, a funny contemporary novel with POC (People Of Color) protagonists. I absolutely infused real-world influences in the story! For instance, Dimple is a fierce feminist, as was/am I, and Rishi’s struggle between choosing art or something practical to please his parents was definitely something I struggled with as well. Computer science is definitely not my field of interest, but I think we desperately need to see more STEM girls in YA literature!
Q2. As an Indian-American, living in the US with your husband and two kids, was identity crisis one of the issues you grappled with, a topic touched upon even in your book?
Oh, definitely. The current research shows that any person living in the diaspora goes through a series of stages where they grapple with how to accept (or ultimately reject) their minority culture. I think it would be very rare to find someone in these circumstances who don’t experience that. Thankfully, I’ve found a happy medium that embraces both parts of my identity!
Q3. Did you find a similarity or drastic difference, in terms of feedback, from your readers in India with the rest of the world?
So far all my readers, no matter where they’re from, have been enthusiastic and vocal in their support for When Dimple Met Rishi! I’m constantly amazed at how much this story about two Indian-American teens in San Francisco, California has resonated with people from all kinds of life circumstances from around the world.
Q4. How challenging or exciting was it writing a YA when compared to your other writings?
This was the first time I attempted to write a YA, and it was an amazing, exhilarating experience! I’d been reading it for years, of course, so when my agent suggested I try my hand at it, I was both nervous and excited to see if I could do it. Once I began, I fell enthusiastically in love with this age group and plan to write many more YA novels if luck allows!
Q5. How did writing happen for you? Is this something you had always wanted to pursue?
Absolutely. I’m one of those writers who’s been penning stories since she was very little. To be able to do it professionally is a total dream come true!
Born and raised in India, Anisha Dhiman moved to Toronto to study Publishing and then Lifestyle Media at Centennial College. Writer, social media strategist and content creator, Anisha is the founder of Five Question Series, where she profiles people… you guessed it, by asking five questions. In her free time, she enjoys reading and trolling people with puppy GIFs and memes. Her only phobia? Losing her sight, but staring at the screen all day long doesn’t help much.