Henna talk with Alka Joshi, Author of The Henna Artist

Updated: Apr 20

When I found out about The Henna Artist, by Alka Joshi, I was THRILLED! A book following a strong, independent woman AND henna artist is a dream come true! I remember when my sister called me up to tell me that the book was selected for Reece Witherspoon's book club and I immediately ordered a hard copy. (You can download The Henna Artist on Amazon or get the audio book on audible.)

I was pretty nervous hosting my first ZOOM session, (What if my internet connection spontaneously combusts? What if Alka doesn't show up?? I think I nervously brushed my teeth at least 3 times beforehand for no reason!) But alas, Alka connected right on time, with a bight smile and a giant copy of her gorgeous book in the background. After exchanging pleasantries and waiting for a few henna sisters to connect, (my henna bros didn't show lol) we were ready to rock and roll!

"What made you go into creative writing?" Alka replied that she has always had an active imagination. She can sit at a restaurant and observe people and imagine their unique story lines and personalities. Alka described her process of writing as very organic, it took her 10 years to finish her debut novel, The Henna Artist. She took lots of breaks and went through MANY edits. Alka recommends studying with current authors, and taking workshops with authors you admire if you are looking to get into writing. She obtained her MFA in Creative Writing from the California College of Arts in San Francisco. Carissa McQueen of Henna Caravan (https://hennacaravan.com/) inquired further about Alka's writing process and Alka compared the process of applying henna to story telling. Part of applying henna is planned, and part of it, you make up as you go!

"What inspired you to choose henna as Lakshmi's career?" Alka responded that the character of Lakshmi was modeled after her mother. She decided to reimagine her mother's life if she could make the choices she wanted instead of following the path laid out for her. Her mother was always a creative and strong woman, and the henna profession allowed the storyline to take shape, with henna creating access to a variety of colorful characters & locations, from palaces to pleasure h