We had the good fortune of connecting with Dhara Parekh and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dhara, what led you to pursue a creative path professionally?
I am not only a highly introverted person, but I am a hopeless hermit, which makes it difficult for me to meet new people, and that eventually disables me from sharing my thoughts or having my opinions heard. I am not wired to speak my mind. My head, however, is full of ideas, thoughts, musings, and reflections. I am a walking and breathing poster of introspection and interrogation. If I had a tattoo etched on my soul, it’ll read- ‘Why?’
Very early in my life, I realized that if I don’t let all of this out of my head, I will suffocate. So I started penning down my thoughts. When I was nineteen and had my first taste of depression, writing a sonnet about it was the only thing that made me feel better. I thought I had hacked my psychology. When I was upset with the way of the world, I created a blog about it. I understood that I might be too weak to yell or fight but I had written words to channel my anger and pain. That’s how I embraced writing.
I often joke that I have an eternal throne in the middle of my left and right brain. While my creative juices flowed non-stop, I also had to tend to my left brain. The logical and rational side of me. I did my undergrad in Hospitality, finished MBA, and I worked in hotels around the world, only to come back to ground zero and admit that nothing is ever going to bring me solace than the world of words. That’s when I decided to pursue my creative career as a writer. I found ways to be a diplomat and satisfy the cravings of both sides of my brain.
I am too obsessed with ordinary things to not make stories out of it.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way? What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I have always been a writer, but it wasn’t until 2015 that I started to take my writing seriously. I began to write a science-fiction novel during NaNoWriMo that year and haven’t stopped since. I believe that science-fiction is a terrific medium to learn and share a commentary about what’s going on in the world. You’d say that’s what news is for. But which one is more hard-hitting when it comes to the horrors of surveillance? An opinion piece on USA Today or George Orwell’s 1984? Storytelling is ancient. Back when humans lived in the caves, they told stories of dangerous wolves in the woods around a crackling fire. That’s what I want to do. Use fiction to convey and warn about the dangers of our world and of humanity. And more. My first book is a character-driven story with themes of forced displacement, urbanization, technological control, and anti-individualism.
It wasn’t easy. Every moment of this journey is interspersed with headaches, frustration, self-doubt, the fear of failure, and the feeling of being lost, with me saying, “This book will be the death of me,” at the end of every writing session. The struggle didn’t end there. Once I was done writing my book, I had to face the downpour of rejections from publishers and agents with a brave face. What helped me overcome those obstacles was the constant support of my friends, family, and writing community, the conviction to finish this project, my faith in my story, and a healthy dose of discipline. That’s the most important part, discipline, and I learned it the hard way. A good story idea isn’t enough. You need a great deal of self-discipline that helps you sit at your desk every day and write no matter what.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When I travel, I like going to topographic places that are unique to those destinations. So if a friend is visiting San Diego, I would show them all my favorite natural places around the city. My most favorite spot is those cliffs next to Gliderport. To be able to watch the gigantic pacific ocean swallowing the sun from that height is a visual treat only lucky people get to witness.
Some of the other places I love in San Diego are Mount Soledad to catch a panoramic view of the city, La Jolla Caves to Kayak with the sea lions (even though they make breathing hard with their stink) and dolphins, Coronado beach because a San Diego wishlist is incomplete without a beach day, Point Loma Lighthouse to experience the feeling of being transported to an old era, the museums at Balboa Park because learning new things from old things is super cool, Seaport Village to browse cute stores, and then finish it off with a nice meal at Little Italy or North Park.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Ah, where do I start? Even with a hermit, it takes a village. Books have definitely played a big role in shaping me and there are many people who became the foundation and pillars of what I am today, but I want to take this opportunity to give a big shoutout to my creative tribe of San Diego, which includes, SDWrimo (the San Diego regional community of NaNoWriMo), my writing squad, and my creative friends who support and inspire me every single day. Without the collective creativity of this clan, I wouldn’t have identified my path to writing my first book.
I also want to give a loud shoutout to the gem of my life, Bhavesh, who is not only a terrific and supportive partner, but also a brainy scientist and easily the most intelligent, altruistic, and funniest lump of stardust I have ever known.
Other: Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/dharaiter