The book cover for the sophomore novel from Sandhya Menon, "From Twinkle, With Love."

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Author Sandhya Menon of Monument hit the New York Times bestseller list on her first try with a young adult romantic comedy about -- of all things -- arranged marriage. That was "When Dimple Met Rishi." Now Menon has a new novel out, this time set in a Colorado Springs high school. It’s called “From Twinkle, With Love,” and it follows 16-year-old Twinkle Mehra, an aspiring filmmaker and high schooler.

Menon talked to Colorado Matters about her new book, defying parental expectations by going into the arts and picking up the pen again after a first-time bestseller. “From Twinkle, With Love” is told through a diary made up of Twinkle's imaginary letters to filmmakers she admires. A lot of Twinkle comes from Menon’s experiences when she was a teenager, also the daughter of Indian immigrants with a creative streak.

Excerpt From Chapter One, 'From Twinkle, With Love'

Monday, June 1st

Homeroom

Hello, namaste, buenos dias, and bonjour, Mira Nair!

The basics: 

Name: Twinkle Mehra

Age: Sixteen

Occupation: Sadly a junior at Pikes Peak Charter in Colorado Springs. And ugh, the only one who’s still sixteen. Mummy and Papa obviously thought they’d birthed a prodigy when they stuck me in kindergarten a whole year early…ha. But that doesn’t matter. If you only learn one thing about me, it’s that I think I have a filmmaker’s soul. Like you, Mira. There are so many universes I want to explore with my camera.

BFF: Maddie Tanaka. Well, used to be, anyway. Now it’s…complicated.

Crush: Duh. Neil Roy. Since forever.

So, now that we’re acquainted, can I just say that I’m a huuuuge fan? Like, the biggest. I mean, okay, I’m not deluded. I know you’re never going to read this in a million years. But somehow, writing to you in here feels like you’re listening. 

This diary was a birthday present from Dadi, by the way. She was all, “Take this, Twinkle. Put the words of your heart in the pages as you put the images of your heart in your movies.” As far as grandmothers go, she’s pretty cool (and pretty kooky, but that’s a story for another day). Anyway, it sat in my desk drawer for about nine months but then I thought, Why not? What’s it going to hurt to try and journal? I thought writing to my fave female filmmakers would be way more fun than writing to myself. Or to one of Dadi’s ‘soul bearers from beyond the veil.’ (Too long of a story to go into right now.)

Some might call people like me losers. I myself prefer the term groundlings. See, in Shakespearean times, these were the poor people who would have to stand in the front of the stage and got called out (unfairly, IMO) for being rowdy and smelly and having the mange or whatnot. And then there were the snooty people in the back, who got to sit in, like, covered areas and look down at the groundlings and feel all superior in their silk feathered hats. But Shakespeare would never have gotten famous if he hadn’t appealed to the groundlings.  

Here’s a little secret, though: I wouldn’t completely mind if I was something other than a groundling. It’s not like I’m silk feathered hat material or anything, but still. To be even one social status level above the one I am right now would change my life because I’m pretty sure it would give me my best friend—who is now definitely one of the silk feathered hats—back. And bonus: it would help transform me from Invisible Twinkle to someone people recognize; maybe even someone who tells stories others want to hear.