BookLife Talks with Ricardo Alexanders
A sponsored Q&A with the author of 'Bollywood Invasion'
What inspired the story you tell in this novel?
The music of the Beatles, definitely. It all started in 2013 when I stumbled onto a YouTube video of “Let It Be” played by a tribute band using traditional Indian instruments. That night, I had a strange dream: I traveled back in time and performed Beatles songs onstage somewhere in India. The next morning, as I was scribbling down my lingering memories, a question came to me: had John Lennon been born an Indian—with the same talent, in a time much less multicultural than today—could he still have taken America by storm?
What kind of research did you do to ensure cultural authenticity?
Binge-watching Bollywood movies as well as hiring a local editor from Hyderabad, India.
Who is your ideal reader and why?
Beatles fans, Bollywood fans, and timeslips fans, just to name a few. I believe Bollywood Invasion will attract audiences with very different backgrounds.
What is the one thing you most want to tell readers, booksellers, publishers, or agents about you or your book?Bollywood Invasion is probably one of the most unique cross-genre stories you’ll read. Imagine you’re 16, living in Brooklyn, being bullied by every kid who’s bigger than you. Then, BAM! You wake up as a young prince in India in 1958. The only thing tying you to the 21st century is your memory of vintage Beatles music. In this distant past, you find friendship, love, and rock ’n’ roll. You don’t even know that you have reincarnated as someone you know very well until the day you run into a man named Chapman. That’s when you realize fate is pulling you toward something you know is coming but cannot escape.
Why did you name the book Bollywood Invasion?
In the book, the protagonist forms the first student rock ’n’ roll band in India and becomes an instant hit in Bollywood. The band then conquers the U.S., as the Beatles did in 1964. Had that really happened, the band would have been labeled the “Bollywood Invasion” by the American press, just as the Beatles were labeled the British Invasion.
Does your book bear any resemblance of Danny Boyle’s movie Yesterday?
Great question! Back in January, a book reviewer actually brought Yesterday to my attention in a congratulatory email. She thought the film was based on my book! Indeed, the film’s premise overlaps greatly with Bollywood Invasion. However, if you’ve seen the movie and read my book, you would certainly agree that they tell two very different stories. In my opinion, Yesterday is a light comedy, cute and reasonably entertaining. However, it doesn’t deliver the full potential of the premise. To me, Beatles fans deserve a story that can give them the life stories of their beloved band, the colorful culture of India, and an ending no one can predict.
With sci-fi (The Last Resistance) and romance (Bollywood Invasion) books under your belt, what genre are you going to tackle next?
Fantasy. I’m currently working on a new book, The Patel Brothers. It tells the story of an American-born Indian boy with a disability who chooses to play basketball for India and wins not only the Olympic gold medal but also the NBA championship. Doesn’t this sound incomprehensible? I don’t want to talk too much about it for now, as I like to keep readers in suspense. However, I can assure you that the story line will be extremely crazy and very touching at the same time.