Hi Sareeta, can you tell us about yourself?
I’m the author of The Nearness of You [Piatkus/Little,Brown, 2016], If I Don’t Have You [Jacaranda Books, 29 July 2020] and editor and contributing writer of upcoming romantic fiction anthology Who’s Loving You [Trapeze, Feb 2021]. I’ve also written a number of erotic short stories and an erotic novella with Pavilion Books. My books for Young Adults are published under S.A. Domingo, including Love, Secret Santa , and Love on the Main Stage, which is out on 25th June 2020, both with Hachette Children’s.
I’ve contributed to publications including gal-dem, Stylist and Token Magazine, and taken part in events for Hachette Books, Winchester Writers’ Festival, Black Girls Book Club and Bare Lit Festival among others. In my (other) day job I work as a Commissioning Editor for Harlequin Mills & Boon, an imprint of Harper Collins. I live in South East London with my husband and my slightly too-bougie-for-her-own-good cat!
Can you tell us about your latest book(s)?
So I have a novel for the younger end of YA, Love on the Main Stage coming out on now with Hachette Children’s. It’s a cute romantic story about Nova, a Black British girl who lives in Brixton with her half-Sierra Leonean, half-Jamaican family. They run a restaurant and also take their food truck around to all the summer festivals (remember those?!), but she meets a Cuban-American boy, Sam, who always seems to be popping up at the festivals and is really into her and encourages her love of performing her music. They spark up a summer romance, but Sam’s hiding a secret. All in all it’s a sweet, food-filled and music-celebrating story!
Then, on 29th July, I have a novel for adults, If I Don’t Have You publishing with the fantastic Jacaranda Books. It’s a sexy romance about Londoner Kayla, who is planning a green-card wedding to a friend in order to continue pursuing her creative dreams in New York. But when she meets charismatic film director Ren at a press junket sparks fly, especially after they get stranded in the city by a storm. They spend what they intend as one magical night together, but can’t resist continuing a long-distance romance while Kayla’s temporarily back in London, and Ren’s shooting a film in New Zealand. However, distance and secrets (like that undercover wedding, and a baby bombshell…) eventually tear them apart – until they have a chance meeting on a Manhattan street years later, and their chemistry explodes all over again…
When did you decide to become a writer?
I’d always loved to write fiction, but when I started working in publishing I felt much more like I had the knowledge and access to take a leap and do it with more intention. When the company I was working for won the commission to publish books for luxury lingerie brand Agent Provocateur, I decided to ask if I could submit a story (even though I was just a worker bee in the sales & marketing department at the time). They liked my story, and I ended up being commissioned to write three erotic short stories for three separate Agent Provocateur collections. Then they asked me to write an erotic novella for a trio of books they were publishing for Company Magazine.
Had I written erotica before all of that? Nope! But it was very fun, and also, seeing my book in Waterstones made me feel more confident to write a book I hadn’t been commissioned for. That became my debut novel, The Nearness of You – a romantic coming-of-age story. (I set the erotica to one side, hah.) I secured an agent, and then Piatkus (an imprint of Little, Brown) bought it, and I was on my way! (OK, that makes it sound rather simple, but essentially that was the journey).
What’s the best bit about being a writer?
Bringing a story that exists nowhere but in your head to life, and having other people read and respond to it is fantastic. Even reading my own work back and realising I wrote it feels like some kind of unimaginable alchemy sometimes. It’s magical! I also express myself much better written down, so it’s nice to be able to pursue my creative side in words. Oh, and the piles of money. JOKING!
Can you tell us what you’re working on next?
I’m currently working on a really thrilling project that I’ve sold to Trapeze Books (an imprint of Orion/Hachette) called
Who’s Loving You – an anthology of romantic fiction written by British women of colour. I’m editing it, and of course contributing a story, alongside some of my favourite writers in the UK today – some up-and-coming and some long-established literary queens like a certain Ms Dorothy Koomson! The stories from these writers are PURE FIRE, but I expected nothing less. I cannot wait for them to be out in the world.
I’ve long had a passion for romance fiction, but I’ve sometimes been frustrated by the restrictions in what is classed as ‘romance’ and also who gets to write about it. So I’m extremely excited about this collection. It’s due to publish 4th February 2021.
What other interests do you have?
I’m a massive music head, so I’m really annoyed about the amazing festivals and concerts I had lined up to attend that have had to be cancelled or postponed this summer. But to be honest my mind is constantly consumed with books, reading them, writing them etc! I recently started doing a Book of the Week segment on Worldwide FM (www.worldwidefm.net), Gilles Peterson’s online radio station – catch me every Thursday during the little morning show, Morning Mari* from 845am-9am. That’s been a lot of fun each week to put together, selecting some of my favourite book recs!
OK, here are the questions everyone needs to know the answers to:
Chocolate Hobnob or Lemon Drizzle cake?
Without a doubt, Lemon Drizzle. TBH it’s cake of any kind over biscuit every time, but I also am a huge fan of a plain biccie. Controversial, but give me a packet of plain Digestives over any other type, any day of the week!
Cream soda or Limeade?
Cream soda – I love vanilla flavours and smells, plus as a drink it reminds me of my childhood!
Jollof or plantain?
What is one without the other!? They go hand in glove!
Trainers or Flip-flops?
Flip-flops, because if I’m wearing them it likely implies I’m somewhere hot, or at least that the weather is decent!
Tucking your shirt in or leaving it out?
Depends on the outfit! I’m quite specific about my lewks! Heheh.
What’s your best celeb spot?
I have a very wild story about Mos Def (aka Yasiin Bey) but it’s a bit long winded! However, I’ll never forget seeing Naomi Campbell modeling in the lobby of The Grovesnor hotel once. She was sitting in a chair wearing head-to-toe black PVC and she was A VISION. I thought ‘she can’t be real!’ Stunning!!
If you had to start a rumour about yourself, what would it be?
Probably that I’m on the verge of signing a multi-million dollar record deal under a pseudonym… (Who says this isn’t true, eh?!)
Thanks, Sareeta, where can we find out more about you?
Where can we buy your books?
The Nearness of You, Love Secret Santa and Love on the Main Stage are all available to order on Hive, which allows you to support local bookshops, and also Amazon:
The Nearness of You – On Hive
Love Secret Santa – On Hive
Love On The Main Stage – On Hive
If I Don’t Have You is available for pre-order via Jacaranda Books’ website, as well as Foyles (and Amazon):
If I Don’t Have You – On Jacaranda Books
If I Don’t Have You – On Foyles