Saturday, May 25, 2024

Q&A with Nishita Parekh




Nishita Parekh is the author of the new novel The Night of the Storm. She lives in Texas.


Q: You experienced Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, and you’ve said your Houston apartment became a place of refuge for family members. Can you say more about the inspiration for the novel, and about the creation of your character Jia?  


A: That experience inspired me to write a novel about a family trapped during Hurricane Harvey. The main character Jia is a single mother and I wanted to use a locked room construct to explore social issues faced by Indian immigrants.


Q: How important is setting to you in your writing?


A: As a reader, I wish there were more mystery/thriller novels set in the South. I love Houston and wanted to capture an authentic experience of living in this city, which is why the novel opens with the main character Jia browsing the aisles of HEB, a popular grocery store in Texas.


In the story, the hurricane is almost like a character in itself as it directly impacts the decisions each character makes. 


Q: Without giving anything away, did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I knew the big picture details at the start, however along many many revisions, some characters became more important. I was lucky to work with my brilliant editor who helped tighten up the story.


Q: The Entertainment Weekly review of the book says, “Nishita Parekh gives the locked-room thriller a fresh take in her debut novel, The Night of the Storm, by putting a multigenerational Indian American family at the center.” What do you think of that description?


A: I think that's an apt description, and I'm very grateful for the renewed interest in locked room thrillers. I was lucky to land on a locked room structure organically as my original draft was about two sisters having secrets, but then I modified it to include Hurricane Harvey.


Since family is very important in the Indian community, it made sense to have additional family members join them and that's when I realized I was working with a locked room novel.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Nothing concrete, but I know my future work will continue to explore issues of motherhood and being a working mom in America.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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