Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Mansi Shah Interview - The Direction of the Wind

Photo Credit: Ron Derhacopian

Mansi Shah is a writer who lives in Los Angeles. She was born in Toronto, Canada, was raised in the midwestern United States, and studied at universities in America, Australia, and England. When she’s not writing, she’s traveling and exploring different cultures near and far, experimenting on a new culinary creation, or working on her tennis game.


When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill? 
I was nine years old when I first realized I wanted to tell stories. My fourth-grade teacher had assigned us to write short stories each week, and I asked her if I could write a chapter each week and do a novel instead.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. 
Connecting with readers. Every time I have someone reach out to me saying that my book has made them feel seen or understood in some way, it gives me the fuel to keep writing stories that give voice to subjects that people may keep hidden. I get the same feeling when someone tells me that one of my novels opened their eyes to something they had not previously thought about.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book? 
My lawyer job! THE DIRECTION OF THE WIND had been burning inside me, but given the demands of my other career, I often spent months or even years away from the manuscript.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us? 
Stories allow us to relate to one another. They help us learn about those who are different from us and develop more empathy and compassion. For me, stories centering underrepresented groups is one of the main drivers of my writing because making different cultures and traditions more familiar helps build a greater sense of community.

Can you tell us when you started THE DIRECTION OF THE WIND, how that came about? 
I started writing it in 2014 after receiving quite a bit of rejection from agents for THE TASTE OF GINGER, my debut novel that was eventually published in 2022. The rejection I had received in connection with GINGER had focused on people not believing there was a market for that story even though they connected with the writing, so I felt like I had to find another story in order to get published and started THE DIRECTION OF THE WIND. I’m thrilled that both books have found their audience now.

  • 1. It is set in Paris because it has always felt like a home away from home for me, and I wanted a legitimate excuse to keep doing my annual trip there. The book takes place mostly in the Marais, where I spend much of my time when in Paris.
  • 2. Samosas have been featured in each of my books thus far because my mom makes the best ones and I like to honor her in that way.
  • 3. I had to research and revise the manuscript prior to publication to deal with any potential visa issues Sophie would have had as an Indian citizen traveling to the countries in the book.
  • 4. I had to adjust the dates in the storyline to avoid dealing with the pandemic.
  • 5. Another reason I chose Paris was because it a city based on tradition and hasn’t changed much over the period of time covered in the book. It is more likely that the same hotels, restaurants, and other places would have existed during both Nita’s and Sophie’s storylines.
  • 6. Cecile was one of my favorite characters to write.
  • 7. When I picture the wedding bangles in the book, I see the set that my mom wore when I was a kid.
  • 8. I struggle with giving guidance on book covers, but fortunately my fabulous cover designer Micaela Alcaino is excellent at pulling the essence from the novel and showing it visually. Purple is my favorite color so I especially love this cover.
  • 9. I was a psychology major and have always been fascinated with human nature and mental health issues, so this book was a chance for me to delve deeply into those topics.
  • 10. If I ever write a sequel, it would be Vijay’s story.
What is the first job you have had? 
In high school, I worked at an entertainment center with a video arcade, driving range, mini golf course, and kids jump n’ fun area with tube mazes and ball pits.

What is your most memorable travel experience? 
This is my absolute favorite topic! Hot air ballooning over Bagan in Myanmar, Northern Lights dancing across the sky in Finland, the fragrant lavender fields of Provence, breathtaking landscapes in Iceland, the most stunning clear water in the Maldives, rice terraces in the Philippines that remind us what the world looked like before modernization, memorable architecture in Morocco…I could keep going, but I’ll stop now!

Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew? 
Anytime I can. If we can help each other, we all win.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before
Always true love

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep? 
I keep a gratitude journal and write three things I’m grateful for each night before closing my eyes.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of? 
Moths! I had a pantry moth infestation in my apartment during law school and have been terrified of them ever since.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today? 
Several years ago, I was diagnosed with a stress-induced autoimmune condition and it forced me to reevaluate my life and how I wanted to spend it. It took my body speaking loudly for me to learn to slow down, breathe deeply, and prioritize rest and play over my overachieving need to always feel productive. It put me on the path to eventually leaving my legal career and writing full-time.

A heartfelt story that spans continents and generations, about a young woman who searches for answers about a mother she barely remembers.

Sophie Shah was six when she learned her mother, Nita, had died. For twenty-two years, she shouldered the burden of that loss. But when her father passes away, Sophie discovers a cache of hidden letters revealing a shattering truth: her mother didn’t die. She left.

Nita Shah had everything most women dreamed of in her hometown of Ahmedabad, India―a loving husband, a doting daughter, financial security―but in her heart, she felt like she was living a lie. Fueled by her creative ambitions, Nita moved to Paris, the artists’ capital of the world―even though it meant leaving her family behind. But once in Paris, Nita’s decision and its consequences would haunt her in ways she never expected.

Now that Sophie knows the truth, she’s determined to find the mother who abandoned her. Sophie jets off to Paris, even though the impulsive trip may risk her impending arranged marriage. In the City of Light, she chases lead after lead that help her piece together a startling portrait of her mother. Though Sophie goes to Paris to find Nita, she may just also discover parts of herself she never knew.

You can purchase The Direction of the Wind at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you MANSI SHAH for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Direction of the Wind by Mansi Shah.

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