Best-selling author Tejas Desai’s newest book ‘The Dance Towards Death,’ recently hit the bestseller list, and anyone who has read his work is not surprised because his books take readers on a riveting and thrilling ride. In fact his rise to the bestseller list has been a consistent trend for his international crime trilogy ‘The Brotherhood Chronicle,’ with The Dance Towards Death being the final book in the series.
‘The Dance Towards Death’ carries on the exciting story of former private investigator Niral Solanke and several survivors of a complex international criminal world that spans Thailand, India, Australia, New York City and the American South. Desai expertly combines Hindu-Buddhist philosophy with gritty dialogue, lushly described settings, informative details and an action-filled plot, and concludes this epic journey with a series of powerful climaxes.
We were excited to chat up with this brilliant author to find out more about this “must-read” series, and what’s next for him and his work
Finishing up a series as epic as this one is a big deal, did you learn anything new about yourself while completing The Dance Towards Death?
I learned that I’ve reached a point of confidence in my writing that I don’t need the old-fashioned, regimented discipline that I once maintained. I used to write 7 days a week for two hours for years, and this was outside of my full-time job (and, for a couple of years, getting a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing on top of that). Later I cut it down to 5 days a week but I still did it consistently. I can now write in a slightly less regimented way and still achieve the same, if not better, results.
In The Dance Toward Death some characters return from the other books in the Brotherhood series. How did you choose which ones returned and which ones didn’t. Also, besides Niral Solanke, your ever so compelling protagonist, is there a character that particularly resonates with you?
There wasn’t really a thought process behind it, the story just flowed as I wrote it and I brought back or included characters as the storyline mandated it. Other than Niral, I think the most fun to write was Rob Johnson. I had so much fun with his Aussie dialogue and slang as well as his insane antics. He can be a problematic character but he’s never a boring one.
If you were actually able to meet Niral Solanke, how do you think you two would get along? What do you think the two of you would do for fun?
I guess that would depend on which book and chapter we’re in, since Niral changes so much throughout the three books! The pre-Brotherhood Niral might be slightly too wild for me, but it would be fun to have a drink with him in Brooklyn or hang out at a hipster party talking about art, books and politics. As Niral becomes more religious, I would likely argue a lot with him about Hinduism given my agnostic beliefs, but that could be fun as long as he doesn’t get too defensive. The later disillusioned Niral would be awesome to have Pad See Eew and Mai Tai with on a Thai beach with some cute international backpackers and locals spinning stories about their wild travels, but I’d definitely pass if he tried to sell me something, and hopefully I wouldn’t get killed!
The Dance Toward Death is now one of my favorite books. If it were to be made into a film, who would you want to play Niral Solanke?
I wish Kal Penn was still in his prime, but alas, he’s probably too old (that said, they did some pretty amazing things with de-aging tech in The Irishman, so you never know!). Otherwise, the guy who plays Siddiq in The Walking Dead, Avi Nash, might be good, or Dev Patel if he can get an American accent right. There were also a couple of actors in an experimental book trailer of The Brotherhood I made years ago who might fit if they’re still acting. Thankfully there are more and more quality Indian-American actors coming up so you never know who will stand out in an audition!
The shut down in NYC where you live presented people with many challenges. Did you continue writing during that time? Will anything you went through during that time end up in any of your new stories or books?
Yes, I was constantly writing during that time and I was able to complete the final edits of The Dance Towards Death. More importantly, since I was in the eye of the hurricane, Queens, NY, I was gathering material as the inspiration of my next book Bad Americans. I knew people who passed away from Covid-19, including African-Americans, the most affected racial group. I observed the period where people were audaciously ignoring the public health warnings. The NYPD even took down the basketball hoops near my house since 50-80 people were playing every day without social distancing.
I knew people who were victims of the most heinous prejudice, particularly Asian-Americans, and not always from who you would assume. And since my mother was an essential worker at the hardest hit hospital, Elmhurst Hospital Center, and I used to drive her to and from work during that period, I was definitely privy to death, social reality and practice during the pandemic. Once things started to loosen up I was able to travel outside Queens too including to places where the more well-to-do were able to escape, so I was able to explore that angle too. And throughout I was in touch with many people through Zoom and other videoconferencing apps, and keeping up to date with various news sources and social media. So I was able to absorb much of the realities of this period, so it will definitely inspire the substance and structure of Bad Americans, which I’ve already started writing.
You can find The Dance Towards Death on Amazon.