Storytelling is in my blood. It even guided my choice of journalism as a career. Stories about cultural intersections have always held a particular fascination for me. As a magazine feature writer, I wrote a piece about refugees, another about the children of migrant workers. As a newspaper reporter, I covered the hidden underclass in a small affluent community. One of my most cherished interviews was with an elderly gentleman who, as a young boy, rode through the Mexican desert with Pancho Villa, the Mexican freedom fighter, before finding his way to Houston and, with limited English, establishing himself as a successful restaurateur.
Still, it took years of thinking about it before I finally took the plunge and began writing fiction. I’d had an idea for a novel that often kept me awake at night, one that eventually evolved into an international suspense series set in the Indian diaspora.
Breathing in Bombay is the story of Indian-American Diya Rao, who moves to Mumbai to pursue her dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Soon after her arrival, the favorite aunt she’d been staying with is murdered, and the killer is on the loose. Devastated but determined to not give up and move back to D.C., Diya uncovers a trail of family secrets, corporate intrigue, and social causes gone wrong. The story is set in the summer of 2005, against the backdrop of an actual historic monsoon flood and environmental catastrophe that engulfed the city. As the water recedes, Diya’s quest for purpose and adventure in a new city becomes a fight for her life.
Writing this book was exceptionally fun. I was able to revisit fond memories of interesting and beautiful places I’d experienced during childhood vacations to India as well as take great trips in the name of research.
This summer, I put the finishing touches on Breathing in Bombay and started the search for an agent. I’m hard at work on a sequel, Chasing Cairo, and hope to complete a first draft by the end of the year. With any luck, I may even squeeze in some “research” time in Egypt!
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