Sometimes true love is found under a pile of cliches: a twinkling disco ball, cheesy ’80s dance music, and a big poofy dress. Sonia Patel’s Jaya and Rasa: A Love Story is not that kind of love story. Her powerful novel takes readers to lush Hawaii and introduces us to Jaya, a trans teen boy who falls for Rasa, the daughter of a prostitute. There’s no shortage of obstacles — from meddling parents to complicated family histories — standing in the way of their love, which is why you’ll be rooting for these two from page one. We caught up with the brilliant and badass Sonia Patel to chat creativity, inspiration, and more. Scroll on to learn more from this brilliant author!

Brit + Co: Describe your book in six words or less.

Sonia Patel: Secrets destroy, love rules.

B+C: Where/when do you do your best writing?

SP: In my living room from 3-5am. I’ve got this standing desk for my Chromebook. (Photo via Sonia Patel)

B+C: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done for book research?

SP: Sling my guitar lower than usual in front of a mirror to see if its lower wing really did look like a hard-on emerging from my crotch (for a Jaya scene).

B+C: What’s your go-to cure for when you’re stuck in a creativity rut?

SP: I go on a solo hike deep into the Oahu mountains.

B+C: What two lady heroes do you turn to for inspiration, and why?

SP: First, my mother. She’s my biggest hero. Her struggles and triumph are my main inspiration. Second, Lauryn Hill. Hip hop and rap are my best friends, and Ms. Lauryn Hill’s lyrics always encourage me with their feminism, depth, and emotion.

B+C: What’s your latest Instagram obsession?

SP: My friend turned me onto @therealgaudyv. I dig the fashion posts. So hip hop. So urban. So gender neutral. There are these dope black and gray camo overalls I really need to get my hands on and rock in a fly masculine style.

B+C: Can you name a book that you think deserves a little more love + recognition?

SP: The 10-volume Barefoot Gen graphic novel series by Keiji Nakazawa. The author was seven when the atomic bomb dropped on his city of Hiroshima. His series depicts life after. It made me laugh and cry. It single-handedly got my young son to become hooked to reading. And Mr. Nakazawa’s series moved him so much that he wrote a letter to his new favorite author explaining just how much! Unfortunately, Mr. Nakazawa had already passed away, but his wife wrote back. Both my children have read the series numerous times, as have I.

B+C: What’s next on your to-read pile?

SP:The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy.

B+C: What advice do you have for aspiring creative ladies?

SP: Make time to do a little of your creative work each day. Slow and steady wins the race.

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