Author Sara Desai just might be the queen of rom-com fake romance plots; at least, the ones that make us laugh out loud to the fullest. Her books have been hailed by Oprah, Marie Claire, and Booklist as most anticipated romances of the year, and her newest title, The Singles Table—called by Bookbub as “the best romances to read this fall”—is no exception.
The Singles Table is the true opposites attract story: Zara Patel, Hollywood-loving lawyer with a recently broken heart, vows to put her energy into her career and helping her friends find romance during wedding season. Anything but finding romance for herself. That is, until she meets the sexy, former military security specialist Jay Donavan at said single’s table. Luckily, he’s of the same mind: no time for love, stay focused on work. But when kismet brings them together for the duration of wedding season, they have to strike a deal or else they’ll drive each other crazy: she’ll help him find his “special someone” if he introduces her to his celebrity clients. But while looking for their perfect matches, they might just be overlooking the one right in front of them.
We talked with Sara Desai about incorporating cross-cultural differences into her writing, her favorite characters, and her love for rom-coms.
How did you first get interested in writing romantic comedy novels?
I have always loved romantic comedy movies. From When Harry Met Sally to 10 Things I Hate About You, there is nothing better than pairing up two people who don’t seem to belong together and watching the sparks fly. Throw in some obstacles—jealous exes, rival bosses, one promotion or only one bed, a few comic moments, misunderstandings and true tests of character—and their happily ever after is so much sweeter. I wanted to bring my love of rom-coms to the page and write the stories I love to watch.
Can you talk to challenges you face when writing your novels about cross-cultural differences and familial pressure?
The biggest challenge is how much to share. Clothes, holidays, religion, language—there are so many aspects to culture, it is easy to get caught up in the details. I try to weave elements of culture through the narrative and the characters’ interactions with family and friends. Cross-cultural differences can often lead to conflict, whether it is a simple misunderstanding or a difference of opinion because the characters were raised with different family values, and I have to be wary not to let too much conflict derail the story. Familial pressure is common to so many cultures, it is less of a challenge and more fun to write!
Which of your characters from your books The Singles Table, The Marriage Game, and The Dating Plan do you relate to most?
Zara from The Singles Table is who I would love to be. She is fun, silly, over-the-top and makes no apologies for who she is. Daisy from The Dating Plan is almost her opposite. She is a planner who loves lists and organizers and quantifiable results. I used to be a planner, but now as I look around my disaster of an office, I think those days have passed. Layla from The Marriage Game is my most relatable character. She is strong, family-oriented, sarcastic, funny and when it comes to love, she takes no prisoners.
What do you hope readers take away from The Singles Table?
I hope to brighten a reader’s day with a story of hope and healing and happily-ever-after. No matter how deep the wounds or how grumpy the character, there is someone out there who can see past the pain and love you for who you are.
As a lover of nachos, two questions: where do you find the absolute best, and do you find a way to work nachos into every book?
The best nachos I ever had were in Kingston, Ontario at a bar that has long since closed. I am still searching for their equal. I never thought about working nachos into my books but now that you’ve given me the idea, expect to see some nacho-eating characters coming soon!