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Author Q & A: Radhika Sanghani

Cindy Burnett
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I Wish We Weren't Related

I Wish We Weren't Related follows a family dealing with explosive family secrets.

Radhika Sanghani’s new novel, I Wish We Weren’t Related, published earlier this week. Thirty-four-year-old Reeva thought her life couldn’t possibly get more complicated, until her semi-famous Bollywood mother calls to tell her that she’s been lying to her daughters for decades—the father they thought died 30 years ago has been alive this whole time. Only now he actually is dead.

Worse? His dying wish was for Reeva and her sisters Sita and Jaya to attend his funeral prayers – which means spending a fortnight together at his house, surrounded by relatives they never knew existed. As Reeva slowly learns more about their father and his life – with the help of his sister, aka her new, wise Satya Auntie – she starts to uncover the complicated truth of their past…and realizes she needs her own sisters Jaya and Sita more than she ever could have imagined.

Library Journal states “Readers will enjoy the relatable characters, the snappy one-liners, and the wise and hip auntie who transcends the page and reminds readers to be kind to themselves.”

Radhika Sanghani is an award-winning features journalist, an influential body positivity campaigner and a 2020 BBC Writers Room graduate. She writes regularly for the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Elle, Guardian, Grazia, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan; was recently featured in Italian Vogue as well BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour and is a regular guest on Sky News and Good Morning Britain. She is also a TedX speaker on body positivity, a yoga teacher and runs a charity initiative with AgeUK fighting loneliness in older women.

Radhika answers some questions about I Wish We Weren’t Related:

Radhika Sanghani

Radhika Sanghani's new novel focuses on family drama and dynamics. (Photo: S.E.B.C. Photography 2021)

What inspired you to start writing I Wish We Weren’t Related?

I wanted to write a book about a messy family where things are complicated but there’s still a lot of love. It all came out of the idea of a woman being forced to spend time alone with the sisters she hates – and from there I decided to center it around a family funeral and a big family secret. 

What do you hope your readers take away from your book?

Firstly I hope my readers really enjoy the book and that it makes them laugh or cry or both. But I also hope it inspires them to think about their relationships in their own lives, and see if there are any areas where they can be more honest (a message that my protagonist Reeva learns).

What surprised you the most when writing this book?

I was surprised by how much I fell in love with this family. At first, I only really liked Reeva and thought her mum and sisters were awful, but the more I wrote them, the more I started to love them for their quirks and imperfections and flaws. 

What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

I find editing really hard. I enjoy planning the book, and I love writing the first draft, but editing future drafts can be really challenging. It often feels like I’m dismantling a finished product into small parts that I have to try and fix before I eventually put it all back together again. Exhausting! 

Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.

I think my readers will find out after reading this book that I have a cat who has made her way into I Wish We Weren’t Related – and I’ve gone full crazy cat lady and dedicated the book to her. 

What are you reading now and what have you read recently that you loved?
I just finished reading Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny, which I enjoyed. But my favorite recent read has to be Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead – I thought it was just beautiful.

For more book recommendations and bookish thoughts, see Cindy’s monthly Buzz Reads column, her Thoughts from a Page Podcast or follow @ThoughtsFromaPage on Instagram. Find upcoming Conversations from a Page events here.

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