2009 was a good year. I began polishing my first suspense novel, Breathing in Bombay, and wrote nearly half of its sequel, Chasing Cairo. This year, I plan to finish revisions and find an agent to represent the first book, hopefully sell it to a publisher, complete the sequel, and begin work on the third novel in the Across Black Waters series. Oh, and while I’m at it, figure out how to blog. Am I up to the challenge? We’ll find out, right?
I feel more confident than ever about meeting these goals because I’ve spent several years exclusively honing my craft. Okay, more than a few years. I started my writing journey decades before the concept for these two novels occurred to me. I’d dabbled in fiction writing as a child and on through my teens before settling on journalism as my college major. I figured I had a better shot at paying my rent that way, and I was right, albeit marginally. (Those early paychecks didn’t quite cover the rent, truth be told.)
As a print journalist, I tried my hand at just about everything. I started out as a newspaper reporter in a small Texas town, went on to write features for a magazine supplement of a Houston newspaper, served as a media coordinator for a Washington, D.C. think tank (“on the Hill”), wrote opinion pieces for a number of major newspapers, fact checked financial articles, wrote about business trends for a Georgetown newsletter, oversaw production for a group of trade magazines, and ultimately served as its executive editor. Along the way, I did some ghostwriting and edited a few books. Looking back, I can hardly believe the fantastic opportunities I’ve had in the publishing world over the years.
But the best is yet to come. I’d always wanted to write a book. Any book; it never really mattered what kind. For a long time, I thought it would have to be nonfiction, given all of the above. Then a few years ago, I was struck by an idea for a mystery novel. Forget that I’d only ever read a handful of mystery novels in my life. How hard could it be? After all, I read a lot of other kinds of books. And I’m a parent: What can’t I do?
So, confidence in hand, I went off to write me a book. I read all the mystery novels I could get my hands on (still working on that, by the way) plus loads of how-to books. I took writing classes, joined critique groups and associations, chatted endlessly with my husband and fellow writers about ideas for scenes and characters and plot. And I started writing. And writing and writing ... and revising. The more I learned, the more challenging the endeavor became. Yet that first novel kept screaming out: “Don’t give up on me!” And finally, after an excruciating number of revisions, the novel I’d envisioned started to take shape.
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, amid the backdrop of an actual historic monsoon flood 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.
This book has been exceptionally fun to write. I get to revisit fond memories of interesting and beautiful places I experienced during my childhood vacations in India. I look forward to sharing my trials and tribulations with you as I seek publication for my first novel and toil to finish the second.
Thanks for stopping by, and I hope we’ll see you back again soon. Comments welcome. We don’t bite! Well, all except for C.J., but that’s another story.