‘Studying literature was very helpful to me, even though you don’t really need any specific education if you want to write. But exposure to literature worldwide was a way to enhance my own understanding of myself and the culture at large.’ Author Tanvi Berwah | Interview

Hi, today we have an interesting interview. We have also reviewed her book on Instagram.

Meet Tanvi Berwah, a captivating South Asian writer who weaves tales as vast as the cosmos and as rich as history itself. From a young age, Tanvi dreamt of touching the stars and traveling through time. Her debut YA novel, “MONSTERS BORN AND MADE,” has been hailed by Lightspeed Magazine for its fearless storytelling. Not stopping there, her follow-up, “SOMEWHERE IN THE DEEP,” delves into the complexities of class, colonialism, and greed, earning high praise from Publisher’s Weekly.

Tanvi’s academic journey took her through the halls of the University of Delhi, where she earned both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in English Literature. Even amidst her studies, she found ways to celebrate her love for epic sagas like “The Lord of the Rings” and “Game of Thrones.” Though her dream of becoming an astronomer was curtailed by a lack of mathematical prowess, her fascination with space and history continues to shine through in her writing.

Join us as we delve into the mind of Tanvi Berwah, whose stories promise to transport you to worlds unknown.

Mili: What inspired you to write this action-packed fantasy novel with a South Asian influence?

Author: I have always been a fantasy reader from childhood, so when I decided, I was going to
pursue publishing, I wanted to write fantasy as well. At the start, my stories were full of the same stock medieval European worldbuilding with majority white characters, but in the mid-2010s American children’s publishing became more open to diverse storytellers. Authors like Sabaa Tahir and Roshani Chokshi were instrumental in helping me realize that I don’t have to adhere to an imposed standard.

Plus, since these stories specifically dealt with social imbalances, it was natural to want to explore things closer to home, to want characters like myself getting to be drivers of their own fates for once.

Mili: Could you tell us more about Krescent Dune, the protagonist of your story? What challenges does she face, and what makes her unique?

Author: Krescent is a 17yo orphaned girl whose main focus has been getting off the island she lives on. She’s, arguably, the strongest gladiator that the fighting pit has seen in a long while and her fights are a major draw for the audience. This makes the owner of the pits both covet and detest her. Krescent knows she’s well, too, and the jealousy that comes her way because of it. And one of her major flaws is that she encourages it subtly, she likes knowing she can beat the others, she likes believing that she can face the entire world alone, which isn’t true, as we see. At her heart, though, Krescent is someone who craves a life of free skies and peace that she’s been deprived of. She doesn’t want to walk around while always alert and aggressive. She wants a life that is simple and soft, and full of a community of friends. Does she know that, though? Probably not in the beginning.

Mili: The concept of battling monstrous creatures in an underground fighting pit is intriguing. What inspired this aspect of the story?

Author: My love of cool monsters! Jurassic Park has been a childhood favorite (I’m so glad the T- Rex survived the latest Jurassic movie, or I’d have cried), and I’ve been fascinated by dinosaurs and the real-world creatures that once walked our world, and the fictional dragons, werewolves, chimera, and so many other mythical creatures. I wanted to add to that canon in my own small way. Monsters Born and Made’s maritages are perhaps the best creatures I’ve ever created. I love their viciousness; I love their smart nature that people don’t really consider and fall prey to. In Somewhere in the Deep, the very first fight that we see, with the red stick, and the one close to the middle–which I won’t spoil–are two of my favorite scenes I’ve written across both the books.

The fighting pits themselves, therefore, came from the combination of wanting mythical monsters in my books and Kress being a gladiator. It also became the setting to explore themes of class, and how the violence and aggression of the pits is the opiate that’s being used to keep the serving people down, which was crucial to the overall story.

Mili: Without giving away too much, can you share a bit about the journey Krescent embarks on during the rescue mission in the mining caves?

Author: The premise of the story is that Krescent is being forced down this network of ancient caves that is filled with “monsters and madness” for a rescue mission. Physically, it wasn’t something impossible for her as she’s a trained fighter with the strength to handle the journey.

But it was terrifying for her because the dark is one of her biggest fears. She has deep anxiety, and her PTSD makes it difficult to navigate this journey, which she wouldn’t admit to because she needs the mission to be successful, no matter the cost–at least, until Rivan is involved. She’s also traveling with people who hate her, who would genuinely harm her, and therefore she needs to be on constant guard not just against the monsters emerging in the caves but also against her own companions.

Mili: It is mentioned that someone doesn’t want Krescent to make it out alive. Can you discuss the element of mystery and suspense in your novel?

Author: The “someone” in this statement belongs to the company that is going down the caves, and turns out to be a key figure in the final showdown, so this again goes back to the group dynamics. The premise itself lends to suspense in that we don’t know what’s going to happen–what the monsters and madness will manifest as, but in addition, the people traveling themselves all have their own POVs that we don’t see because we’re in the head of Krescent. Along with elements of mystery and suspense, I’d say this also overlaps with some horror, especially cosmic horror which is hugely influential in my writing.

Mili: Lastly, how does your background in literature, history, and space influence your storytelling? Are there specific themes or elements from these fields that you incorporate into your writing?

Author: Studying literature was very helpful to me, even though you don’t really need any specific education if you want to write. But exposure to literature worldwide was a way to enhance my own understanding of myself and the culture at large. I’m not sure I can pick up specific themes but having studied different theories, criticism, and learned about world cultures, it has definitely expanded my world view, which helps in storytelling.

At my heart, I’ve always been a storyteller, so even with history and astronomy, what I take away is the poetry of the cosmic world. In my stories, there’s always a focus on the natural world. I’m in awe of what has always existed, and will continue to exist long after we’re gone, and it slips in what I write.

As we wrap up our conversation with Tanvi Berwah, it’s clear that her passion for storytelling is matched only by her curiosity about the universe and the past. Her novels, “MONSTERS BORN AND MADE” and “SOMEWHERE IN THE DEEP,” offer readers not just thrilling adventures but also thought-provoking explorations of important social issues.

Tanvi’s journey from dreaming about the stars to crafting tales that resonate with readers around the world is truly inspiring. We look forward to seeing what new worlds and stories she will create next.

To stay updated on her latest works and insights, be sure to visit tanviberwah.com. Thank you for joining us in this delightful conversation, and keep an eye out for more stories that push the boundaries of imagination and courage.

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