Meet Swati Teerdhala.
Hi Swati! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.
Swati Teerdhala is a storyteller and writer. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a B.S. in Finance and History, she tumbled into the marketing side of the technology industry. She’s passionate about many things, including how to make a proper cup of chai, the right ratio of curd-to-crust in a lemon tart, and diverse representation in the stories we tell. She currently lives in New York City.
Social Media Links:
Have you gone on any literary pilgrimages or writing trips?
Not yet! I would love to go on a writers’ retreat and am actually trying to plan one right now, so fingers crossed!
What inspired Esha’s assassin name in The Tiger at Midnight?
Esha’s rebel name in the book is the Viper, which was based on the two whips she uses for weapons, like the forked tongue of a snake.
“Drawing inspiration from ancient Indian history and Hindu mythology…” yes, please! What aspects first got you brainstorming about a possible novel?
A lot of The Tiger at Midnight’s world was drawn from the mythological stories I grew up with like the story of how the Ganga River was brought down to the earth and the tales of Garuda and the Naga (snake) king. As I was building out Kunal and Esha’s story, it felt natural to ground their world in those stories of my childhood.
Do you know you would have a three book series as you began writing or did it come as surprise?
I didn’t know! I certainly hoped it would be. Once I had my first draft of the book done, I could tell the story was going to be large. It demanded a series, but I only fully solidified the number of books when I went on submission.
What to you is an “unforgivable” choice?
I think it’s a choice that, on the surface, looks like you’re abandoning your country, family, or duty. And those are the kinds of choices that Kunal and Esha end up facing in the book.
Did any of your characters fight you while writing? Meaning did you want them to do something only to have them act in a completely different way?
Ah, Esha! She’s got a mind of her own. But I wouldn’t say any of them fought, per se. They just showed me that the path I had written for them wasn’t the right one. I firmly believe story comes from character, so those tough moments only helped me find the right story.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?
I wanted to write a story that celebrated my Indian heritage and tackled the issue of finding your own path, even when there’s familial or community pressure, something that I think is really common for second-generation immigrant kids in America. That’s a huge part of what both Kunal and Esha deal with during this book—their duty to themselves vs. others. Esha and Kunal both struggle with this idea in very different ways. I hope that readers are able to read this book and understand that better.