La Jolla bestselling author of relationship books says she followed the signs to write her first novel

La Jolla author Arielle Ford's first novel, "The Love Thief," is set in Rishikesh in the Himalayan foothills of India.
(Photos provided by Arielle Ford)

Arielle Ford filters wisdom and experience into ‘The Love Thief.’


Arielle Ford is a big believer in signs.

That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The La Jolla author, publicist and public speaker has written several self-help books centering on the more spiritual side of love and romance. A radio host once described her as the “fairy godmother of love.” She even describes herself as a “queen of the new-age baby boomer” mentality.

But Ford says she initially “never, ever” had writing a novel on her to-do list. She was busy penning bestsellers with titles such as “The Soulmate Secret.”

Then one day, she says, a story idea came to her and proceeded to “stalk” her.

“It came to me like a movie inside my head and it wouldn’t go away,” Ford said. “Trust me, I kept trying to resist it, but it just kept revealing itself.”

Still, she put it off. But eventually she made herself a promise. She knew most of the novel would take place in Rishikesh, a small riverside city in the Himalayan foothills of India. It’s a deeply spiritual place, according to Ford, and though she had visited a number of times, she felt she needed to go again to fully actualize the story swirling in her head.

“Finally, I just sat down and told myself, ‘OK, God, if I’m supposed to write this book, I’ll somehow manifest a business-class ticket to India, which is like $7,000,” Ford recalled. “So I thought that was the end of it. That’s never going to happen.”

Less than 48 hours later, with a chance encounter with a former business partner, Ford had her ticket to India. And once she was in Rishikesh, her novel, “The Love Thief,” truly took shape.

“Things that I had once only seen in my imagination I began to trip over in real life,” Ford said. “I found the bookstore that’s in the novel. The owner of that bookstore looked like the guy in my head. Stuff just started to reveal itself and magic happened every time I turned around. So I just began taking notes. Lots and lots of notes.”

“The Love Thief” centers on a woman (Holly) who, after discovering that her fiancé is cheating on her, crashes her car into the back of a truck. For Holly, her travails lead to an unexpected journey to India where she she meets a guru named Deepak, who sprinkles wisdom and meaning into Holly’s life.

Author Arielle Ford of La Jolla has written several self-help books centering on the spiritual side of love and romance.
(Jeremiah Sullivan)

“[‘The Love Thief’ story] came to me like a movie inside my head and it wouldn’t go away. Trust me, I kept trying to resist it, but it just kept revealing itself.”

— Arielle Ford

“They say you write what you know, and I was able to take my entire life’s work and funnel it through these different characters,” said Ford, who loosely based the personality of characters like Deepak on her husband and based Holly on multiple friends who had troubled relationships with what Ford calls “toxic narcissists.”

“Every self-help book I’d ever read, every course I’d ever taken or guru I’d represented, I was able to channel through Deepak,” Ford said. “I believe in everything that comes out of his mouth, those bits and pieces of wisdom that I’ve picked up along the way.”

She’s quick to point out that the book isn’t about her, but rather, anyone who “has ever been betrayed by a lover.”

She believes many readers will find the book’s villain, Barry, to be recognizable. “I want them to understand that it’s not necessarily their fault,” Ford said. “You didn’t do anything wrong. I also want them to understand the differences about what love is and how it’s portrayed.”

Holly, however, is highly suspicious of anything transcendent, proclaiming early in the novel that she doesn’t enjoy yoga or buy into “woo-woo” spirituality.

“Holly is not a seeker. She’s not a believer,” said Ford, who spent five years revising the book. “She doesn’t want anything to do with it until her life falls apart. Even when she goes to India, she has no idea that it’s the yoga capital. She goes there for cooking school. So it was fun to have her sort of trip over this magical possibility, this new way of being that she wasn’t looking for.”

Ford, 70, is originally from Florida and moved to Los Angeles in 1984 and eventually to La Jolla in 1994. Over the years, she worked as a publicist for big-name clients such as Deepak Chopra and Neale Donald Walsch. She says she was content with being a “behind-the-scenes person,” writing and contributing to a few books here and there. But then she became something of a love guru herself after her 2008 book, “The Soulmate Secret,” became a bestseller.

“That book solidified me on this new career path,” she recalled. “It just sort of happened.”

Though she exudes confidence and self-actualization, Ford says writing her first novel may have been her most humbling experience.

“I’m happy that I did it now, but the process of it was so intimidating,” Ford said. She added that she’d often print out positive notes about the book she received from friends in hopes of inspiring herself to keep going.

Toward the end of the process, Ford reached out to a book-cover designer who came back with a multicolored digital rendering of a woman in a yoga pose. After approving the cover, Ford said, she was “shocked” one day when she received an email from a Serbian woman whose image was used to create the cover.

“Not only did you choose a picture of me taken the year when I was most broken, but the content [of the] story in the book is the same,” the woman said. She added that the photograph was taken on her own journey to Rishikesh shortly after a horrible breakup.

“And I thought, ‘Wow, this universe is really having some fun out here,’” Ford said. “I am still shocked.”

Reflecting on it now, Ford said she sees it as another sign that she’s done something substantial with “The Love Thief.”

“Out of the 8 billion people on the planet, the actual girl gets in touch with me,” she said.

Ford is now working on a full-cast audio version of the novel, complete with a soundtrack and sound effects. “But that’s the kind of magic that just kept happening with this book,” she said.

The Love Thief” is available at

Ford is scheduled to appear at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 6, at Warwick’s bookstore, 7812 Girard Ave., La Jolla. Admission is free. For more information, visit