Ayesha Patel was born in Western India and then moved to Texas when she was four years old. Although Patel was raised in Texas, her family has kept a strong Indian heritage and culture alive. A couple of years ago, Patel and her husband moved to Tacoma, Washington. Patel says, “while hubby is extending his education in marketing, I’m changing gears from medical to literary.” With studying at UWT, becoming an author, and collaborating with other Indian authors, she keeps herself busy.
Patel is part of a collaborative blog that consists of six other Desi (of South Asian Origin) female writers called Saris and Stories. They have been called a part of the “Bollywood Revolution,” bringing Bollywood movies into Indian writing. According to Patel, “In the Indian culture, love is cultivated after marrying a person for practicality instead of working out a marriage based on love. But Bollywood movies are primarily about overcoming trials for love.” Although Patel has been referred to as a “Bollywood Writer,” her focus is to bring more diversity in modern books. Patel has written all her life and now she is putting her skills into action in Priya in Heels.
Priya in Heels is about a disciplined daughter from India named Priyaka Patel who is finishing her medical residency at one of Houston’s emergency departments and has agreed to an arranged marriage from her family. In the book, Priya ends up facing a struggle between family obligations and the love of one of her patients named Tyler O’ Connor. Tyler is a sexy musician who has his sprained ankle treated in the ER after saving Priya from an attack. Priya used to believe that love was an ideology perpetuated by Bollywood and the Western culture, but is now having second thoughts. The conflicts presented in the novel are loosely based off Ayesha’s actual experiences.
Patel’s personality is shown through Priya with the way she thinks, speaks, and her love for nerdy things, like Battlestar Galactica, Comic-Con, and plaid. She is also similar to Priya in that she has gone through being a mature medical professional while still making immature decisions and feeling the constant need to please her parents.
According to Patel, “I was always supportive of traditional thinking as far as dating and marriage went…until I fell in love with an American and was the first in the family to deviate from the expectations.” While American culture is accustomed to interracial relationships, Patel didn’t know of any Indians who were in multicultural marriages. In earlier Indian culture, many decisions of an Indian affected their parents and immediate family. Now, Indian culture is starting to become more accepting of interracial marriage.
Patel wants her readers to realize that “There’s always a struggle for love and traditions are both beautiful and constricting. Tradition is either fading or evolving, depending on how you look at it. Including, wants readers to see the other side when they hear phrases such as ‘arranged marriage’ and ‘eastern culture.’”
What’s next for Patel? She hopes to either make a sequel for Priya in Heels or develop a young adult book that explores a mix of cultures.