“The Dance Towards Death,’ the highly anticipated book by Tejas Desai recently took Amazon by storm and of course it hit the bestseller list, because it is an absolutely delicious read. This is the third and final book in Desai’s international crime series “The Brotherhood Chronicle,” a trilogy that has captivated readers from the very beginning.
“The Dance Towards Death” takes former private investigator Niral Solanke deep into a multifaceted web of an international crime and intrigue. Readers are teleported into a world where loyalty, power, family ties, hope, and politics are all part of this powerful narrative. This book and the Brotherhood Chronicle are destined to make readers think long after they finish the last page of this rather amazing story. Desai has become one of our favorite writer’s and we were thrilled to have a chat with him about the success of his series, his life, and what’s coming next for this talented writer.
Not everyone is able to become an international bestselling author. In fact, all the books in your Brotherhood series have hit the bestseller list. What is the key to your success?
I take what I know, extrapolated with lots of research, and create exciting stories, complex characters, lushly described settings and twisted plots with plenty of mystery and action. Mix that in with the universal themes of the human condition and plenty of interesting cultural information, and I’d say that’s a pretty good formula, if one can call it that, for compelling fiction.
That said, I’m always pushing myself to get better, meaning that likely each successive book is better, more ambitious and hopefully more interesting than the last.
I’ve worked on my writing for a long time until it got to this level: writing every day for years, rewriting and redrafting, working on my weaknesses until they became my strengths. But I’ve also found that I write best when I just let myself go and don’t think too much. So there must be a level of natural talent, and a whole lot of hard work that fills in the holes and smooths out the surfaces.
Niral Solanke, your protagonist becomes more religious for a while, but that changes as time goes on and he becomes more disillusioned. What was it like for you to include this narrative into the story?
For a thinking person like Niral, and probably for a lot of people, one’s faith and one’s interpretation of reality beyond the surface is an evolving, and sometimes devolving, labyrinth. In Niral’s case, he wanted to be a bohemian writer after high school and so slowly got involved in this artistic subculture in Brooklyn. But his failure at his craft and the excesses of the lifestyle eventually overcame him, so he moved back home and tried to rejoin the spiritual tradition of his ancestors which, in a way, influenced his desire to be a writer in the first place.
But, in the first book The Brotherhood, when Priya dies and he’s forced to look at the realities of that conservative religious community he had escaped and he uncovers a corruption similar to the one he had left in his former bohemian lifestyle, he loses his faith completely. It’s typical of the noir tradition that things come back full circle, and that the hero/anti-hero can’t escape the corrupt nature of the world no matter how he tries.
In the second and third books, The Run and Hide and The Dance Towards Death, he continues his complex path, moving from disillusionment to spirituality and back, except this time it is not as easy to discern his true motivations or feelings. Not only does this realistic journey make for exciting storytelling, but the reader can vicariously live this transformation in themselves and consider the path of their own lives, albeit in most likely a less violent and thrilling way.
If you could have anyone living or dead read your book and give you a review who would it be and why?
I’ve been asked this question a few times over the years, and I think I’ve given several different people. But I’m going to say George Orwell this time. For one thing, he’s one of the greatest essayists of all time, and extremely underrated. I have to thank my high school English teacher at Bronx Science, Mr. Kelley, for assigning us the “Politics and the English Language” and giving us his entire A Collection of Essays. I read all the other essays on my own time, of course, and they are all amazing, particularly “Inside the Whale” and “Raffles and Miss Blandish.”
Among other things, Orwell had a gift for discovering controversial writers and books that were overlooked by the conventional literary establishment for praise and analysis, even, or perhaps because, they were popular authors or bestsellers. In the case of those two essays, I’m thinking of Henry Miller and James Hadley Chase, but there are many other examples.
Looking back through our lens, he had some problematic views, for example, he could be an apologist for British imperialism and racism, but he was a man of his time, so one has to take context into account. But whatever his views, he was a clear-eyed, uncompromising and honest writer who appreciated other honest writers, and that’s what we dearly need more of today. I can certainly think of one prolific author whose work could be analyzed more in depth!
Your writing habits have changed over time so that you do it less often but with the same brilliant results. Besides writing, what are some other activities or hobbies that inspire your creativity?
I enjoy many activities. First and foremost, traveling through the world, especially backpacking, which, until the pandemic, I’ve been doing once a year for the better part of at least 15 years. I love meeting new people and experiencing new places. Of course much of that does inspire my fiction, both settings and characters, but honestly, I just love the activities themselves. I recently had a conversion with someone, in fact, where she marveled that I actually was more relaxed/less mentally taxed while hanging out with people than watching TV, which is typically considered a brainless activity. I never considered myself an extravert growing up, but now especially I know that, despite my strong introverted qualities, that I definitely am one.
Otherwise, I love playing basketball, throwing around a football, hiking, taking long walks, basking on the beach, kayaking, dining, hanging out with friends, and meeting new people. Of course I like watching indie and classic films, viewing provocative art (check out Long Island’s Best HS student’s art at the Hecksher Museum in Huntington LI!), reading crime and literary fiction, watching TV shows and sports. I’m always having new experiences and learning new skills (I have yet to go fishing, for example), so ask me in a few years and maybe I’ll have a different answer!
You are working on a new book. Can you tell us a bit about it, and what is coming from you in 2021?
Sure, it’s tentatively titled Bad Americans. It’s the anthology sequel to my other major fiction series, The Human Tragedy, which is a series of short story collections that creates a panoramic portrait of American society. So this is the more obviously literary series, but like The Brotherhood Chronicle, it’s also very entertaining and compulsively readable.
At this point I don’t want to reveal too many specifics, but it will be even more innovative in format than the first volume, Good Americans, and have the same internal reality complications and story within a story elements. The pandemic that my family, friends, me and many others have lived through in New York City will be highly influential, but really many aspects of our society and the ills and issues that the pandemic has more easily illuminated will be portrayed and examined.
As for 2021, most likely I will be writing the book for the better part of the year. I’m planning this to be a big and ambitious book, and while I’ve started writing it, it will likely take about a year, at least, to complete it in its final form. But I’m hopeful it can come out in 2022 or 2023.
I’m definitely excited to be fully focused on the creative process again, that will be a boon for 2021 for sure!
“The Dance Toward Death “ is now available on Amazon.