The Millions

Bina Shah and Joseph Olshan: An Author/Editor Pair on Inspiration, Switching Genre, and the Edit Process

Bina Shah was introduced to me via Facebook by a mutual friend who is a fine short story writer. She contacted me directly about her first novel, which I published. I don’t believe she wrote her new novel, Before She Sleeps, thinking it would become a dystopian thriller, but it was clear to me that her writing was moving in this direction.

I, on the other hand, reached a point in my career where I felt I’d said most of what I’d wanted to say, shared my many minute observations about unusual families, complicated relationships, and love between mismatched people. Going by the advice of my then-agent, I began to write tighter narratives, at the center of which was a mystery that needed to be solved. Black Diamond Fall is the second novel that I’ve written in this new vein, and I like to think that despite the constraints, it is stylistically similar to my earlier novels. We spoke about our books via email. —Joseph Olshan

Joseph Olshan: Your first novel, A Season for Martyrs, was a fascinating portrait of Pakistan in 2007 and the last three months of ’s life. The novel’s narrative was written at a high literary elevation in the sense that the present-day narrative was in counterpoint to a kind of lush, lyrical mythical history of the Sindh

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