Every Tuesday, get to know a bit about the stories behind the books you love, and discover your next favourite novel.
Sabitha: Rachel Corsini is here, to talk to us about a book that we all loved, Sushi and Sea Lions. Rachel, tell us a bit about your loveable rom com!
Rachel: Sushi and Sea Lions is about Daniela Verdi, who loses her career as a prima ballerina, and her very wealthy boyfriend, all at once. Her whole life collapses and she moves back to Queens, NY. While there it is up to her to discover what truly matters and figuring out that the dream life she imagined isn’t necessarily what she needed. She also reunites with her brother’s best friend, Vincent LaBate, who is dealing with his own broken life. She falls in love of course, but that’s not the whole story.
Sabitha: A lot of romance stars a rich man falling for a not-rich heroine. You broke with that by having Dany and Vinny finding each other after leaving behind their rich lifestyles. Why was it important to you to show them finding happiness without riches?
Rachel: I feel like in a world of consumerism we are so caught up on materialism that we lose sight of what really matters. Money and status isn’t everything in the world. Daniela was horribly lonely even though she had prestige and wealth. You can have all the money in the world but be miserable. It happens a lot more than people think. In the end, what matters is how you define success and happiness.
Sabitha: The story is set in New York, but not just anywhere. Queens feels almost like another character in the novel, because it’s rendered so lovingly. What drew you to this setting?
Rachel: Queens is special. I grew up there, specifically in the neighborhood the novel takes place in. I had a love/hate relationship with where I grew up for a really long time, until I reached adulthood and I felt like it was special. It was important to me to convey the atmosphere of that place. Small enough that there was a neighborhood feel, a place where it seemed like people knew each other, but big enough that you could be anonymous if you wanted to. The feeling that there was always somewhere to go when you needed something, like a midnight chocolate bar. I also think novels set in New York always focus on the city (meaning Manhattan), they rarely focus on the outer boroughs because I don’t think many writers have experience with them. Queens is a part of me. I wanted to share that.
Sabitha: Regi the cat was obviously the best character, and I’ve heard a rumour that the fictional Regi is based on your own real life version. Can we see a picture of Regi?
Rachel: Fiction Regi is based on my Regi. There are some differences like age, but for the most part they are the same.
I have given you a picture of Regi as cat tax. You’re welcome.
Sabitha: This book draws on more of your life than just Regi. Like Dany, you did ballet, and you trained as a teacher. Why did you choose to bring so much of yourself into the book, and where do “you” end and “Dany” begin?
Rachel: This was the first book I’ve ever finished. There is some wisdom in the adage “write what you know.” I think this was also a little bit of therapy for me. It allowed me to process a lot of things that I was dealing with when I wrote the book. It was easier to use Dany as an outlet for that instead of saying myself, even though she was a lot of myself.
Superficially, I was never a prima ballerina, though I dreamt of being one at one time. So that’s a major difference between Daniela and myself. Daniela is also more dreamy than I am, more romantic. I really heightened that in her character to show that Vincent helps balance her wonderful overzealousness for life. I am that perky and bubbly and happy in real life. I tend to take whatever upset or sadness I’m feeling and internalize it. I wait to cry alone. Daniela does the same thing. She only shows that side of herself to special people and I do the same. It’s hard for me to be vulnerable. Dany is more vulnerable than I am for sure!
Sabitha: What does Regi think of your writing?
Rachel: Regi is unamused by everything that I do. She could care less. I think she is excited about the possibility of being famous though.
Sabitha: We’re so excited for everyone to be able to read this book. Where can people pre-order it? And where can they find you online?
Rachel: They can preorder my book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple Books! They can find me online on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.