Alka Joshi was born in India and raised in the U.S. since the age of nine. After decades of writing advertisements, her husband encouraged her to try fiction. At age 62, Joshi published her debut novel, The Henna Artist, which immediately became a New York Times bestseller, a Reese Witherspoon Bookclub pick, and was Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize.
The Henna Artist is being developed into an episodic series by Netflix. The book follows a young woman escaping an abusive marriage. After becoming a henna artist, many wealthy people confide in her. Overall, the book showcases the differences between the past and the future through a very interesting perspective.
The sequel to The Henna Artist, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur, was released in June 2021. The third book in the trilogy will be released in 2023. In her writing process, Joshi has stated that she doesn’t set aside time to write. Instead, she writes “when the mood strikes.” With her experience, she knows she’ll meet deadlines even without a regular writing schedule.
At SALA, Joshi provides the unique perspective of one who has entered a career after decades in another industry. Though there is some overlap between her previous work for a PR agency and her current writing career, it will be interesting to hear about the transition between the two.