Tejas Desai’s novel The Brotherhood roared on to the Amazon bestseller list and his second novel The Run and Hide is quickly becoming a reader’s favorite as well. Desai is especially gifted when it comes to taking readers on a thrilling ride, one that keeps them guessing until the very last page. His characters come alive in a way that gives readers an insider’s view into a world loaded with raw emotion, greed, religious hypocrisy, and treachery. Clearly we find Desai’s work extremely compelling so we were very excited when he agreed to talk with us about his series.
Your first novel The Brotherhood recently became a bestseller. What was that like?
It was awesome. I’ve been writing fiction for most of my life now and I’ve had wonderful readers and great reviews for my books for years, but reaching that pinnacle was special given all my efforts. Of course that’s only the beginning, as I hope my success will continue to build, that I’ll reach so many more readers in the years to come. There are many more books to come out, from The Dance Towards Death to the second book of The Human Tragedy series and beyond, and I’m hoping all of them will have the same continued success and ultimately build The New Wei literary movement. I’m only 38, so I think I’ve got a good shot!
Are there any similarities between you and the book’s protagonist? If so, was that intentional?
There are some similarities of course, I mean Niral Solanke is Indian-American, born and living in Queens, NYC, but there are also many differences. Niral never went to college and is a failed writer, I went to Wesleyan and Oxford, I have two masters’degrees including a MFA, and have four published books and many more in the pipeline. I’ve obviously never been a private investigator or a criminal, either, I’ve worked most of my career in publishing and libraries. Niral isn’t very well-traveled until he’s forced to be, I’ve traveled much of the globe consistently for years. The other main difference is that Niral is half-Brahmin and half-Kshatriya (the Indian caste tradition, half-priest/teacher and half-warrior), and this becomes more important to his identity as the series evolves. I am (allegedly) directly descended from some ancient Brahmins from the epic Ramayana, although my recent ancestors primarily worked as farmers and teachers. But being a proud American, having been born and raised in the USA, my immigrant parents a traffic cop and lab technician, that’s not particularly important to my personal identity.
Is there a book or author that inspired you to start writing?
I’ve read independently since I was a little kid (my mom used to take me to the Queens Public Library all the time) and I started writing fiction when I was 8 years old. I read plenty of classics and contemporary authors, and I had plenty of early heroes, but my first major inspiration was William Faulkner. A tutor gave me the Portable Faulkner when I was maybe 14 or 15 (I dedicated The Brotherhood to her) and I gobbled up much of his short fiction, then read all his major novels, many while standing up on a crowded subway train on my two hour commute to high school. I also read Joseph Blotner’s remarkably detailed two volume biography on him, I used to travel to the Queens Central Library and the Mid-Manhattan library specifically for that purpose since they were too heavy to check out. Later at Wesleyan I used to hang out in the Olin Library stacks reading criticism on him as well as the works of other modernist authors. I was especially impressed by his lack of formal education, his reliance on “undirected and uncorrelated reading” and his ability to write from multiple points of view and characters from all walks of life, and I hope I’ve emulated that in my fiction, though in my own, more ostensibly commercial, style.
Later I became more influenced by Dostoyevsky and especially Balzac, as well as more contemporary noir crime writers like Richard Price and Elmore Leonard. Noir films, especially old American films, Scorsese, contemporary Korean auteurs, Tom Fontana’s TV series Oz, Perry Mason and other mystery series and many other works from many mediums, including blogs, as well as my own travels, observations, research, experiences and contacts with a wide variety of acquaintances continue to influence my work.
The Run and Hide is your second novel. What made you want to write a series, and what has that been like?
My twenties were spent writing short stories, novels, screenplays, stage plays, and helping make short films. I even formulated a musical and interviewed a singer/actress to star in it. I was trying it all. Ultimately, I decided my main interests were noir crime fiction and thought-provoking literary fiction, and my social interests were international and American, so I decided I would write two series, an international crime novel series, The Brotherhood Chronicle, and a series of short story collections that depicted American society, The Human Tragedy. That idea had been around as I was writing and rewriting my novels and stories for years, but it crystallized in 2012 after I created my literary movement and publisher The New Wei. I released The Brotherhood that year and Good Americans, the first book of The Human Tragedy the year after, in 2013.
Like any writing endeavor, especially for someone as meticulous as me, it has been a struggle, but the focus on expanding the two series has also given me a remarkable fixity of purpose that has made the path a lot easier psychologically. Being a writer is a never ending struggle, probably unlike any other profession, so that sense of purpose is really what has made me thrive artistically.
I’m really proud of The Run and Hide. I think it’s a great book and a worthy sequel to The Brotherhood. It’s longer and more complex than its predecessor, but no less enthralling. I think, and hope, my books get better and better as I go on.
I hear you have a third novel coming out. Can you tell us a bit about that book?
The Dance Towards Death is the third book of The Brotherhood Chronicle. Not only does it continue the story, multiple character arcs and themes from The Run and Hide, but it also brings back characters and storylines from The Brotherhood, rounding out the series. The settings continue to be lush and vast, incorporating SE Asia, the USA, Australia and beyond. It gives the reader enough finality to complete the trilogy, but also a window for a fourth book that I hope will come sometime after I extend The Human Tragedy series.
For more information on The Brotherhood Chronicles check out Amazon.