Thalassa M Ali was born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, the daughter of two archaeologists: one English and one American. She received her bachelor's degree in fine arts from Radcliffe College in 1962. A year later she married a young man from Lahore, Pakistan, and moved to that country, where she remained for twelve years, dividing her time between Karachi and Lahore. Widowed suddenly at the age of thirty-one, she spent her last three years in Pakistan carrying on her deceased husband's businesses.
After returning to Boston with her two children in 1975, she became a stockbroker. While her children were growing, she worked at various investment houses, managing money for individual clients. In 1993, with her children launched, she turned to writing. Ali's love for Pakistan has remained strong over the past twenty-six years. She converted to Islam in 1984 on one of her many visits there. She is a member of Tauhidia, a Sufi brotherhood, whose headquarters are in Karachi.
While still living in Pakistan, she began collecting books on nineteenth-century India with the intention of writing about that time and place. This is her first novel.