Updated: Jun 25
My new rom com, Flying Solo, comes out very soon and if you hadn’t noticed from my countless social media posts, I’m very excited!
I describe Flying Solo as ‘Bridget Jones meets Legally Blonde in an ashram’. It’s about a 30-year-old London lawyer who winds up in an ashram in an effort to win back her wayward boyfriend, Paul, who has run off to India to find himself.
Here are five things that inspired Flying Solo.
I read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert in my early twenties and it made a BIG impression on me. I wanted to go off to an ashram in India and have epiphanies! So I did! I’ve visited two Indian ashrams and find the whole culture around them totally fascinating. They’re pretty bizarre places and unlike Elizabeth Gilbert, I couldn’t get quite on board. I found them a bit odd and realised that despite having hippyish interests, I’m not remotely as spiritual as I thought!
Yet despite not being an ashram convert, I found the experience of staying in ashrams so interesting and completely unforgettable. I used lots of quirky anecdotes in Flying Solo and also touched upon the dark side of ashrams too. They’re not all mantras and meditation – there’s an ominous side to Indian ashrams too with lots of scandalous news stories about gurus being involves in tax scams and even sexual and violent assaults. Beware if you go on YouTube and check out some of the videos from former ashram ‘devotees’ – it’s a rabbit hole of scandal and drama that you can lose hours over!
Travellers I met
I met lots of interesting people during my trips to India, probably more so than any other country I’ve visited. India attracts open-minded people and I found the travellers I met to be warm-hearted, laid-back and kind. The love interest of my book, Seb, is based on a guy I met during my second trip to India. Like my character, the guy I met was staying in a treehouse in the ashram, he was on a year-long celibacy pledge and was very into meditation, reading and self-discovery. Although unlike in my book, in real life, the ‘Seb’ character wasn’t a love interest and he definitely didn’t break his celibacy pledge for me!
I met some amazing people in India – people I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I love how open and friendly Indian people can be, how in touch with spirituality many people are, and the endearing mannerisms common to many Indians. The ‘Indian head wobble’ is a classic example – a gesture that isn’t quite a nod and isn’t quite a shake of the head, which sort of means yes and no and okay.
The bad bits
India can be quite a disorientating place to visit as a Westerner and I wanted to capture some of the bad bits in my book too. Through my heroine, Rachel, I relayed a few things I experienced during my trips – from painful mosquito bites to horrible toilets to a minor car crash on a chaotic sprawling road. India can be quite overwhelming and you can feel a bit like you’ve been thrown in at the deep end when you first arrive, but once you get used to it and ‘go with the flow’, you can start to appreciate the wonders of India too.
I love Indian food and this is probably pretty obvious in Flying Solo thanks to the generous descriptions I include of foods I discovered while I was there, like parathas. There was a restaurant near one of the ashrams I stayed at, which I included in Flying Solo. It was just outside the ashram – a roadside, family-run place, that did delicious curries and parathas and had a relaxed, fun atmosphere that was a welcome break to the pious vibe of the ashram!
To read more about India and ashrams, check out my new novel, Flying Solo. Only 99p now!