Friend of the Month: Asha Elias

Asha Elias planted roots in Miami in 2001, where she’s raising her 10-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son. She’s a longtime fan and more recent Friend of the Fair, and also a soon-to-be-published author – her first novel, Pink Glass Houses, will be released June 2024.

Congratulations on the book – that’s so exciting! How did it come about?

I began writing the book when we went into quarantine, in early 2020. I think a lot of people went back to that thing in life they felt they’d left behind during that time, and for me it was writing a novel. I had this idea that I’d been kicking around and sketching out, a dark satire about Miami Beach culture, and after working on it for a few months I signed up for a Miami Book Fair virtual workshop with Bryan Washington in July.

Really? That’s so cool.

Yeah, that experience really kick-started finishing the book – finding writing groups, workshopping it – and then I finished writing it in January 2021, signed with an agent in the spring of 2022, and two months later sold it to HarperCollins/William Morrow.

You’d been going to the Fair for a while before you became a Friend – what compelled you to finally become a member?

I think it’s a very important cultural institution for Miami, and I was really eager to support it in any way I could.

There are a lot of advantages to being a Friend. Which benefit do you most appreciate?

Definitely the author talks, at the Fair and throughout the year.

What was your favorite session at the 2022 Fair?

I have to shoutout my friend Moriel Rothman-Zecher

Oh, he was at the Fair last year and in 2020, too.

I had the pleasure of workshopping with him a few years ago and we stayed in touch. He came to town in November to celebrate his new book, Before All the World, and gave a talk about it at Book Fair.

You said you bring your kids to Street Fair – do you explore the rest of the Fair solo or with friends?

Oh yeah, my kids love Street Fair! That’s a must-do for us every year, basically since they could walk. Author talks I do with friends or by myself.

What’s a Book Fair moment that’s really special to you?

One thing that stands out isn’t a memory from the November Fair but from the workshop I did with Bryan Washington. That was really meaningful for a lot of reasons. It connected me to a community of writers again, and one of the talks Bryan gave was how to query agents – that’s something I’d never thought of. When I decided to write a novel I wasn’t sure what I was doing it for, other than I felt compelled to do it. The actual practical aspects of getting a book deal, they weren’t on my horizons at all. But that got me thinking about it and telling myself, well, maybe I can at least try and go through the process. So I’m incredibly grateful for that experience.

Are you a big reader?

Yes, a huge reader!

What’s the last great book that you read?

Romantic Comedy; I loved it! Curtis Sittenfeld is a delight. I also recently read Blood Sugar by Sascha Rothchild – I loved the Miami tie – Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson was fun, Omar El Akkad’s What Strange Paradise was gorgeous, and I just started The Very Nice Box by Eve Gleichman and Laura Blackett. It’s gotten off to a good start.

What’s the one book you think every kid should have on their bookshelf?

That’s an easy one: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. My daughter read the book last year and we went to see the movie last weekend. Judy Blume is so brilliant; I can’t believe how timely the book still is. All of the issues that tween adolescent girls faced back then are the same ones they’re facing now, and they were presented in such an accessible and honest way.

It’s your fantasy dinner party and you can invite three of your favorite authors – who are they and why do you want them there?

Judy Blume because she’s an icon, Liane Moriarty because I’m a big fan – she’s had such an interesting career – and Gabrielle Zevin, who wrote Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. That’s one of my favorite books that I’ve read in the past decade, and she’s from my hometown and went to my high school, where we had the same writing teacher. I feel like we need to be friends. [laughs]


Interview by Elisa Chemayne Agostinho; responses have been edited for space and clarity.

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