The countdown is complete. The party is finished. The Unexpected Daughter is launched.
Last Saturday morning, I sat up straight in bed at 5:30. In eight and a half hours, I would be standing in front of a crowd of book-loving strangers at the launch of my debut novel – and I had no idea what I was going to say. So, I did what I do best.
I had a fit of cold sweats and nausea, then made a cup of coffee and put the pedal to the medal on the laptop keyboard. The speech was done in three hours. which gave me plenty of time to follow each member of my family member around the house, practicing my talk. Finally, when my nine year old let go of his PS4 controller long enough to give me a thumbs up, I knew it was perfect.
Attendees began to arrive at Fox Tale Book Shoppe long before the two o’clock start time and meeting them was an absolute pleasure. Store owners, Jackie Tanase and Karen Schwettman, along with Gary Parkes , the publicity guru who made this all happen, were gracious hosts. My heart leapt when Wayne South Smith arrived. After years of us working together, and talking about my family, mostly via phone and email, he finally met the loves of my life, Dharmesh and my kids. My dear friend of nearly twenty years, Kirsten, who has seen me through the beautiful highs and ugly lows in life, was there, along with other girlfriends I don’t see nearly enough anymore. (You know who you are…Susan, Julie, Donna, Eleanor, Antonia, Linette). As the crowd gathered, I was so excited to see my newest friend, author C.S. Johnson, come through the door, too. We all sipped wine, nibbled on southern style corn muffins and Indian samosas, courtesy of my mother-in-law. What an honor it was to meet and share my work with family and friends, old and new.
To my pleasant surprise, Wayne gave me a warm introduction to the group, and any anxiety I felt about speaking to the crowd disappeared. With Dharmesh and my kids there for support, I fell in love with sharing how my personal journey in our mutlicultural family led to writing The Unexpected Daughter. As I expected, the faces of the (all-white) audience showed incredible surprise at parts of my talk. Their curious and positive reactions to the uniqueness of my family’s life in Indian culture solidified my conviction this novel and my blogs, Southern Life, Indian Wife, and Sheryl Parbhoo, fill a void of cultural dialogue in our society that, especially in recent months, needs to be filled.
Afterward, it was lovely to sign books and get photos with all who were there. So, I guess the book has launched. The world knows Roshan, Jenny, and Esha now. They’re no longer my secret. They now exist in the minds of readers. They even now exist on the pages of the book that sits on Karen’s “Favorites” shelf in the store. This actually boggles my mind a little, and I can’t help but channel SNL characters Wayne and Garth by bowing in deference, “I’m not worthy…I’m not worthy”
I may not be worthy, but I’m grateful it’s happened. Roshan, Jenny, and Esha have launched. The Unexpected Daughter is out there – and I’m damn thrilled to be along for the ride with them.