Discover the drive behind a rising star in the world of fiction.
From debut novelist to 2022 Juvenile Fiction IPPY Gold Medal Award Winner a year later, Edina author Payal Doshi is turning the publishing world upside down and bringing adventures to young readers everywhere.
“I had looked for an agent for two years with a lot of interest in the book,” Doshi says of pitching her first novel, Rea and the Blood of the Nectar. “I had no clue about what publishers wanted from cultures of color, so I just wrote about what I love.”
Doshi’s childhood was spent in Mumbai, India, where she says she was never without a book to read. Her first fictional work captures the spirit of a young girl from the hills of Darjeeling, India, but her character is nothing like Doshi’s experience growing up with a family who valued education and independence.
After getting her master’s degree in the United Kingdom and returning home to work for Vogue India, she wrote two paragraphs that would eventually become book number one. “I sold Rea without an agent,” she says of her experience pitching her work. “Publishers were saying it was not Indian enough. A couple of agents said they had just signed another South Asian fantasy writer.” Eventually signing with an agent, Doshi says she was encouraged to be intentional about weaving South Asian culture into the fabric of her stories.
The critical acclaim of her first book resulted in an invitation to collaborate on a new genre and writing style. A Confluence of Fates is a young-adult, short story in My Big Fat Desi Wedding, an anthology of romantic stories due out this month.
“I booked myself in a Bloomington hotel room and got 10,000 words written,” she says about accepting the offer to write just before her parents came to visit her and her family in May 2022. The anthology is a collection of stories from eight different authors; each story is about the traditions of a Desi wedding, the food, fashion, drama, nosey aunties, and the inclusive language of love. This time, she draws from experience in the funny details of her own courtship and marriage to create her story.
Doshi says she enjoys writing in the young adult space because stories are allowed to dig deeper into big emotions and can explore a deeper understanding of love. However, she says she loves fantasy and writing for the middle grades.
She credits a lot of her success with the help she gets from her family. Her husband often takes their daughter on outings to give her time to write. She says her parents have been there through the rejections and the successes as well. “My dad is Rea’s most passionate salesman, making sure anyone he meets buys the book, from the milkman to a company CEO,” she says.
For others considering taking a stab at their own writing project, she encourages them to start. “Write that draft. Each of our stories are important. If there’s something pushing you, compelling you to put a story down into words, the world needs to see it,” she says. “To anyone hesitating, wondering whether their story is interesting enough or important enough, the answer is a resounding, unequivocal, ‘Yes.’”