In October 2022, a young adult contemporary romance about four seasons, four sisters, and four swoon-worthy love stories will be released. With a vibrant family that shows the diversity of South Asian diaspora and heartwarming themes of sisterhood and self-discovery driving the story, this debut novel is both warm and humorous. Set on an island off the coast of the Pacific Northwest, this rom-com is praised to be “a joyous celebration of family and first love” by Rachel Lynn Solomon. Needless to say, it’s a pleasure to have Maya Prasad, author of Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things, share what is the perfect recipe for romance, the spells romance writers can cast, and rom-com books to check out. To view more such posts by South Asian authors, make sure to check out this collaboration, More than Masala, spanning over September 2022. This blog post may contain affiliate links. To know more about them, please read my disclaimer.
Maya Prasad, the author of Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things, on what charm spells creates a romance, especially a romantic comedy, and book recommendations to check out.
Did you know that romance writers are powerful witches? How else do you think that we get you to engage in a story even though you know exactly what will happen? The formula is one you’re well acquainted with: a meet-cute, obstacles, and finally a happily ever after (or possibly a “happily for now.”) Yet you can’t stop reading!
All good rom-coms have one thing in common: they’ve weaved a charm spell. That’s right—you’ve been enchanted so you can’t look away.
In films, it’s often the actors themselves who charm us. They have charisma, they have impeccable comedic timing, they have an adorable smile that melts our heart. Lana Condor and Noah Centineo entrance us in the film version of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are also some of my favorite rom-com actors because of their ability to charm—Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail are both favorites!
However, in novels, authors can’t rely on actors to charm the reader. We’ve got other tricks up our sleeves. Here’s a very basic version of our charm spell:
✨ 2 cups mixed tropes
✨ ½ cup setting
✨ ½ cup sensory details
✨ ¼ cup banter
✨ 3 tablespoons physical comedy
✨ 2 tablespoons adorable signs, motifs, and callbacks
✨ 1 teaspoon of sweetness
✨ spice level to taste
✨ a pinch of drama
It’s a recipe that we tweak with each book. We infuse it with our own special powers. We lick the frosting and make sure it’s not too sweet, and check that the batter isn’t too salty. Some rom-coms up the setting content in unique and flavourful ways: All That’s Left in the World by Erik J. Brown utilizes a post-apocalyptic setting; A Little Bit Country by Brian D. Kennedy is lush with the world of country music; Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo explores Hong Kong and the K-Pop world.
Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad
Four sisters, four seasons, four flavors of romance.
The Singh sisters grew up helping their father navigate the bustle of the Songbird Inn. Nestled on dreamy and drizzly Orcas Island in the Pacific Northwest, the inn’s always been warm and cozy and filled with interesting guests—the perfect home. But things are about to heat up now that the Songbird has been named the Most Romantic Inn in America.
Nidhi has everything planned out—until a storm brings a wayward tree crashing into her life one autumn . . . and along with it, an intriguing construction worker and a yearning for her motherland. Suddenly, she’s questioning everything she thought she wanted.
Avani can’t sit still. If she does, her grief for Pop, their dad’s late husband, will overwhelm her. So she keeps moving as much as she can, planning an elaborate Winter Ball in Pop’s memory. Until a blizzard traps her in a barn with the boy she accidentally stood up and has been actively avoiding ever since.
Sirisha loves seeing the world through her camera, but her shyness prevents her from stepping out from behind the lens. Talking to girls is such a struggle! When a pretty actress comes to the Songbird with her theater troupe, spring has sprung for Sirisha—if only she can find the words.
Rani is a hopeless romantic through and through. After gently nudging her sisters to open their hearts, she is convinced it’s finally her turn to find love. When two potential suitors float in on a summer breeze, Rani is swept up in grandeur to match her wildest Bollywood dreams. But which boy is the one she’s meant to be with?
Ultimately, the magic of the Songbird Inn leads the tight-knit Singh sisters to new passions and breathtaking kisses—and to unearth the truest versions of themselves.
Others mix in plenty of foodie sensory details: A Taste for Love by Jennifer Yen; Salt and Sugar by Rebecca Carvalho (releases 01st November, 2022) and Love from Scratch by Kaitlyn Hill. Personally, I can’t resist when the batter includes fake dating: The Love Match by Priyanka Taslim (releases 03rd January, 2023); 10 Things I Hate about Pinky by Sandhya Menon and The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon.
Here’s a little peek at the Charm Spell recipe I used for my own YA debut, Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things. Will my charm spell work? You’ll need to find out for yourself!
☔ 2 cups Pacific Northwest vibes & seasonal vibes (e.g. drizzle, sweater weather, hot cocoa)
🌿 ½ cup adorable inn on the edge of a craggy cliff
💜 ⅓ cup foodie descriptions (You will be hungry for lavender gulab jamun, I promise)
🌷 2 cups mixed tropes — since there’s four stories in one, I’ve got quite a handful: forced proximity, suggestive collision, neighbors to lovers, second chance romance, stranger with a secret, love triangle, and more.
🔥 ¼ cup slow burn
🌊 3 tablespoons sunsets and salty sea air
🌸 1 cup diverse cast (sapphic and BIPOC romances included)
✨ Layer on warm hug vibes
💗 Sprinkle of first kisses and wild wishes
Maya Prasad is a South Asian American author, a Caltech graduate, and a former software engineer. She currently resides in the Pacific Northwest, where she enjoys hiking, canoeing, and raising her budding bookworm kiddo. Her YA debut Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things will be published by Disney-Hyperion in October 2022. Sejal Sinha Battles Super Storms is the first in her chapter book series to be published by S&S/Aladdin in summer 2023. Maya has also had short fiction published in Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing YA, Cast of Wonders, and Voyage YA. She is passionate about creating brown girl leads in children’s literature. You can find her at mayaprasad.com and @msmayaprasad on Twitter or Instagram!
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Everything stated in this post is independent of any compensation, and the guest writer’s comments and thoughts are solely their opinion; the formatting was done by the blogger but no changes were made in text.