Aside from the classic tales The Runaway Bunny and Angelina Ballerina, the first story I remember myself connecting to was Phantom of the Opera. I was probably no older than three or four when I saw the musical on Broadway, and every moment captivated me: from the dramatic raising of the chandelier as we passed through time back to the old Paris Opera House, the dark romance between to the Phantom and Christine, and the songs I would learn by heart and sing over and over again. I even made my mom go out and buy me a mask that covered half my face and a cape just like the Phantom's; I danced around to the soundtrack for years wearing that costume, clad in black, and made my parents read the story aloud to me. I even tried to watch the original film version (which was too scary at the age of four, but by the time I turned ten, I got over it a little.)
My love of stories—romances, in particular— only grew from there. I loved all kinds of stories, but especially the ones with hints of darkness. I remember being so scared reading The Three Little Pigs that I had to run downstairs and hide my copy in the drawer beneath my parents' bed...only to dig it up a few weeks later because I wanted the feeling of being scared again. It thrilled me. (No wonder I'm such a fan of the psychological thriller today!)
As I got older, I devoured Little Women, David Copperfield (my favorite and the most underrated Dickens novel, in my opinion) and even Moby Dick. There was something passionate to me about Ahab's relentless pursuit of the whale, as though he enjoyed the hunt more than he would destroying the beast itself. I was seduced by the tortured heroes of Austen and Bronte: Mr. Darcy, Colonel Brandon, Edward Fairfax Rochester, and Heathcliff. William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury—his lush Yoknapatawpha county—drew me in, even while his characters were desperately trying to escape their traumatic pasts. And, of course, there's no true master of storytelling like Shakespeare. Macbeth, Richard III, Titus Andronicus and King Lear are eternal inspirations for the writer who seeks to tell complex, compelling tales.
My head could no longer contain the stories I'd begun to dream up myself, so I became a writer. Every writer I know says this, but it's true: my love of reading led me to writing. So now, in between navigating my life throughout the busy New York City streets, kicking butt in the gym, marathoning soapy TV dramas and drinking copious amounts of Kashmiri Green Tea Chai with my friends, I disappear into my own imagination and navigate the lovely darkness there for stories to share.
That's where SIN AND HONEY comes from: the idea that what is dark can be beautiful, what is tempting can be dangerous, and the mouthwateringly sweet can have bitter consequences.