Dhara Shah started her journey in 2020 with her first book. Since then, she has written eight books and has two more on the way. Her most recent releases, Holiday Endearment, and Monogamy is Overrated, are both out right now and available on Amazon Worldwide. She writes prolifically and enjoys having diverse characters in her novels; she also manages her Instagram page, through which she connects with her audience.
USA Tales is in conversation with Dhara Shah, who shares her journey as an author.
Q. What motivates you to write under this genre?
Dhara Shah: I enjoy love stories and am a big sucker for happily ever afters. That is what keeps me going. I know happily ever after looks different for different couples, and I address that in my books. I love adding humor to my dialogues, situations, and storytelling. Writing comedy makes it more fun for me as well.
Dhara Shah: I used to write long before. However, I never published my first book until a few years after being married. As a married woman, writing romance is fine, especially if you have some spice in your books. But I can’t imagine writing it as a single Indian American woman. I know it culturally wouldn’t have fit well. And you’re right; romance/love is still a private affair, even for Indians living outside India.
Q. How do you deal with critics?
Dhara Shah: I see people making critical comments about romance books. They say there is nothing educational in them because romance is not scholarly. It’s not always for education. I’d love to tell them people read books for different reasons.
Romance books teach people about relationships, handling conflict, emotions, and the ability to feel for others. Reading novels for fun and entertainment and to expand your imagination is important. Romance books are hopeful and uplifting, which helps people get a dose of positivity.
Dhara Shah: I connect emotions with humor in my books, which helps people relate to my characters because sometimes people can swallow the hardest things in life with a little bit of humor.
Q. Gendered stereotypes are often targeted towards female writers and the kind of genre they indulge in; how do you deal with that?
Dhara Shah: Yes, I’m often told that romance is a genre for women by women, but it will surprise you that 15% of adults who read romance are not females. Men can read romance too, and I have male author friends who write romance sometimes under a female pen name. So it’s not just the women writing them. The reader audience is diverse more than ever, so let the authors be the same.
Q. What do you do to overcome low moments in your life?
Dhara Shah: I talk to my friends and family in the real world and the book world. Yes, I’m very active on Bookstagram and have a ton of support from everyone, and I’m grateful to have them in my life. I also pick up a hobby or two, like gardening, to get me through it. Sometimes, we all need an escape from the daily grind, and when I need that, I travel. Exploring new places allows me to recharge and see things from a new perspective.
Dhara Shah: The habit of reading is diminishing with more ways of entertainment than ever before, such as video streaming. People’s attention spans are only so much, with so many items competing with their attention.
Reading physical books and newspapers is lower than before, but new forms of reading are up, such as reading on their smartphones, fiction apps, blogs, and even on social media. There is content in every form. It’s how people choose to consume the content. Reading certainly has more advantages than other forms of content. It’s better for your brain, eyes, thought process, and intelligence.
Q. What difference do you feel exists between the writing of present-day authors and that of previous-generation authors?
Dhara Shah: Writing back in the day was much more literary. I see the variety of books today for every type of audience. If you like fantasy, there are books for that. If you want science fiction, there are books for that. If you like romance, there are books for that. Each of these genres has many subtypes.
No matter what you enjoy, there will be a genre/subgenre for that audience. Can you believe we even have a subgenre for military romance? It’s a very small niche of those who love reading love stories about military heroes. There is something for everyone. It’s on the readers to discover the type of books they enjoy, and I bet someone writes them.
Dhara Shah: Writing is hard. If you’re going in just for the money, I doubt it will be worth it. Most authors do not become best-sellers with their first book. Keep writing and improving your craft. Your first book will most likely be the worst book you ever write.
But the lesson that the first book will teach you is that no school or class in the world can. You learn some things only by doing, so be proud to get your first book out there with a mindset that your next one will be better than your last one. And always keep writing! Even if it is only one sentence a day.
Writing is a skill that comes naturally and, with time, can be perfected with practice; as the author says, “you learn some things only by doing… it is beautiful to see how years of little steps build us to take the big leap, each one of us is driven by passion; while some use it to fuel their professional engagements, some turn their power into a profession.” Author Dhara Shah knows her passion and gives it a little every day.