Wednesday, October 22, 2008


By Nadine Dajani

Today I'm thrilled to blog about CUTTING LOOSE, a new novel from the talented Nadine Dajani. Maybe I have a slight bias toward books about the relationship between three women (ahem), but this one looks like a winner. I'm especially intrigued by the buzz Nadine gets for fleshing out her cross-cultural characters.

Here's the jacket copy about the storyline:

Meet three women who are as different as could be—at least that’s what they think—and the men who’ve turned their lives upside down as their paths collide in sizzling, sexy Miami. . . .

Ranya is a modern-day princess—brought up behind the gilded walls of Saudi Arabian high society and winner of the dream husband sweepstakes . . . until said husband turns out to be more interested in Paolo, the interior-decorator-cum-underwear-model, than in his virginal new wife.

Smart, independent, but painfully shy, Zahra has managed to escape her impoverished Palestinian roots to carve out a life of comfort. But she can’t reveal her secrets to the man she adores or shake off the fear that she doesn’t deserve any of it. Neither can she stop herself from thinking that if she holds on to anything—or anyone—too dearly, they will be taken away in the blink of a kohl-lined eye.

Rio has risen above the slums of her native Honduras—not to mention the jeers of her none too supportive family—to become editor in chief of SuĂ©ltate magazine, the hottest Latina-targeted glossy in town, and this in spite of Georges Mallouk, her clueless boss, and in spite of Rio’s affair with Georges’ delicious but despicable younger brother, Joe.

In this city of fast cars, sleek clubs, and unapologetic superficiality, Ranya, Zahra, and Rio wrestle with the ties that bind them to their difficult pasts, each wondering if she will ever manage to cut loose…

Nadine agreed to let me interview her about this book, and here's how it went:

Hi, Nadine. Do you have a favorite character in CUTTING LOOSE? If so, why?

My favorite character is one with little on-screen time to speak of, he shows up later in the game – he’s a young, shy, handsome boy who hangs back in clubs while his buddies make the easy conquests, and who’s undaunted by the challenge of dating an older, outspoken, and utterly stubborn woman. The world should have more of those!

What do you love most about this book?

I absolutely loved writing multi POV – especially when the three main characters hate each other! It’s very different from my first novel, Fashionably Late, where the girls had been friends forever and then have a falling out. In Cutting Loose, we have three women from incredibly disparate backgrounds who are thrown together, and somehow have to “make it work” to borrow a Tim Gunnism. I really indulged in going into the off-screen backstories of the characters in this book, and in incorporating bits of research I’d done about how Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian migrants had come to the United States in the 1800s and how they managed to survive. We know a lot about discrimination against the Irish and Catholics in general at the time, but we don’t know that pretty much anyone from the Middle East region, North Africa (and probably Greece too) was referred to as a “Turk” back then. I guess that was the “Mexican”-like term of its time!

Did you have any input on the cover, and are you happy with the finished product?

I had no input (or virtually none) when it came to the cover of my first novel and so was a bit disappointed when the final product didn’t reflect the mood of the novel – it was a pretty cover, don’t get me wrong, but the energy and mood of the book just didn’t come across. With Cutting Loose, I made sure to get involved early on, and I’m thrilled that my editor and publisher let me. That’s not something most authors get a say in – and I have to admit, the cover is even better than I imagined! I’m absolutely thrilled with it: the sunset over the South Beach skyline is an image I often had in mind while writing the book, the gradation of blue in the sky, offset against the fiery oranges and the lovely Arabic-inspired mosaic cover the mood and the influences found in the story really well.

What do you think readers might be surprised to know about you?

When I was eleven, I called the publishers of my favorite line if YA books (La Courte Echelle… it’s a Montreal-based line) and asked if they’d consider publishing a book by an eleven-year old. I can’t believe my 11-year-old self actually had the cojones to look up the number in the yellow pages and boldly ask if she could do this. By then I’d had a few writing recognitions at school and was confident enough about my writing that when I would read these hilarious YA novels, I would think: I can so do this!

Too bad I never finished that "novel" I was working on at eleven … but it’s this same sentiment that made me pick up pen and paper again some 15 years later when I read “Confessions of a Shopaholic” and thought – dude, I could SO do this!!!

Can you share some particularly memorable fan mail you received about this or previous books?

I just got some fan mail this week as a matter of fact, and I am tickled pink, seeing as Cutting Loose has only been out for a week or so –

“I started reading Cutting loose This weekend and just like with F.L, I'm hooked ! I love the way you speak of Montreal and your passion for Fashion. Your books are truly amazing Nadine :) You make reading fun !”

I live for stuff like that – it reminds that I’m not just doing this for cheap therapy!

Thanks again for touring me!!!

You're most welcome! It's been a pleasure.

I hope you'll pick up a copy of CUTTING LOOSE the next time you visit your favorite chain or independent bookstore. To buy online, visit,, or any cyber bookseller. For more information, visit Nadine's website at

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