Born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India, Alka has lived in the U.S. since the age of nine. She has a BA from Stanford University and an MFA from California College of the Arts. She ran her own advertising and PR agency for 30 years. The Henna Artist was her first novel. Currently, she is working on the third book of the trilogy and a screen adaption of The Henna Artist. She is available for speaking engagements and group writing instruction. Alka shares her writing tips on her YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqNLMIc32Z-y4hzkiE3o6rQ.
HOW I BECAME A WRITER
For decades, I wrote advertising commercials and marketing copy. It was my husband who urged me to try fiction. He encouraged me to take evening workshops, which I really enjoyed. When I enrolled in the MFA program in Creative Writing at the age of 51, my instructors were so generous with their praise that I began to feel like a semi-serious writer. It wasn’t until my literary agent notified me that MIRA Books, a division of Harper Collins, had sent a really good contract that I realized I’d become an author!
WHAT I'M WORKING ON NOW
I’m researching book #3, the last story in the trilogy. This one is about Radha, who is now 33 years old. She works as a perfumer in Paris. She’s married to a Parisian, has two little girls, and is on the cusp of designing her signature scent when an unwelcome visitor from book #1 shows up at her door. Will she acknowledge the acquaintance or pretend she’s never met him before? How will Lakshmi’s help be enlisted to resolve the betrayals and deceptions? I’m loving the research into how perfumes are made, imagining what Radha would concoct (she had such a talent for mixing henna paste and paints as a girl) and designing the lengths she’ll go to hide her past.
MY WRITING PROCESS
I don’t write full-time; I don’t see writing as a job that I have to perform for the same number of hours daily. Rather, I start with research and let characters play around in my imagination, composing multiple scenarios and various plot lines before committing them to the page. I write in the morning, afternoon or late at night when the mood strikes. I write for an hour or six hours, depending on how far my imagination is taking me that day. With four decades of work experience, I’m always able to meet the publisher’s deadlines.