Get to Know Sonali Dev, RWA2018 Librarians Day Luncheon Speaker

Sonali Dev photo

We’ve got a stellar lineup of speakers at the RWA Conference this year! RWA interviewed these speakers to get their views on important topics like writing, singing in the shower, and silly talents. Let's get to know Sonali Dev, the RWA2018 Librarians Day Luncheon Speaker.


The theme for RWA2018 is “Rethink. Revitalize. Renew.” What activity revitalizes you when the words are running dry?

Sonali Dev: Reading, actually rereading my favorites over and over. And doing that exact same thing with movies, not new ones, but old ones. It helps me fall into the storytelling since I know the stories. It helps me crawl into the characters in this mindless, habitual way that opens something up.


What song do you sing in the shower (or in the car) that gets you pumped up?

Dev: It's always old Bollywood songs. By old, I mean from the black-and-white era. They're the most romantic things ever and sung in high enough pitches that they suit my voice perfectly. What? Shower tile has great acoustics.


What's your favorite first line from a book (your own or otherwise)?

Dev: I’m most proud of the way The Bollywood Bride opens: “How do you explain losing your words to someone? When it’s the words that are gone, what would you even use?”


What's the one thing no one will ever find in your pantry?

Dev: Oh dear, you’d probably find the lost city of Atlantis in my pantry. Tidiness?


What's a silly talent you wish you had?

Dev: Whistling. I can't whistle. Like not at all. Actually, I can only whistle in reverse. It's when you drag air in instead of out, but I don't think that's technically classified as whistling.


What’s a slang word from when you were a teenager that you still use?

Dev: Oh, there’s too many, but the thing I say that my teenagers cringe most at is “Ready Freddie.” And then I follow it up with a mumbled “Mercury.”


Who was the first person to support your pursuit of a writing career?

Dev: My uncle was a celebrated Indian (Marathi) poet. He was as quintessential a poet as you can imagine, with his head in the clouds and holes in his shoes. From the first poem I wrote in kindergarten to my first bylined article in a magazine, he took everything I ever wrote seriously. As a young mother, when I talked about my writing as though it were an impossible dream, this is what he said to me: “No one would ever accuse me of ambition or of being a planner, but when it comes to my writing, it’s all organized in my head. I know what my next five projects are. I know what I want to do, and I work consciously toward it.”

Without those words I’d never have been published.


Award-winning author Sonali Dev writes Bollywood-style love stories that let her explore issues faced by women around the world while still indulging her faith in a happily ever after. She has won the American Library Association’s award for best romance, the RT Reviewer’s Choice award, the RT Seal of Excellence, and is a RITA Finalist. Sonali lives in the Chicago suburbs with her very patient and often amused husband and two teens who demand both patience and humor, and the world’s most perfect dog. Find out more at


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