Going Deep with Bestselling Author Tejas Desai about His International Crime Series and More

Listen to this article

If you want a thrilling read that will have you wondering what is going to happen every step of the way, and leave you wanting more when it’s over, then The Brotherhood, by bestselling author Tejas Desai, should be on your reading list this winter. But be warned there is an excellent chance you will be reaching for The Run and Hide, the second book in this series as soon as you are finished.

The Brotherhood covers all the bases and then some giving readers a good dose of greed, betrayal, intrigue, and religious hypocrisy. Desai is well known for creating characters that are intense and so realistic that at certain points you may well feel like they are in the room with you. We are very excited by Desai’s work, and even more so when we got a chance to chat with him about his work, his life and what’s coming next.

Tejas Desai

What is one of the keys to developing the characters in your books? Did you base any on people from your day to day life?

I don’t really have a formula for character development, I let my characters develop as the stories evolve. Since my books are also ideologically based (in the sense that there’s a vision of the life I want to convey), I sometimes need to get through many drafts to get from the abstract to the concrete. But when I write a draft where all the characters, plot, settings, and backstories are fully alive in my mind and transmit onto the page in compelling language and powerful flow, I know the basic blueprint to the work is done.

Reality is very important to me, so yes, there is always some basis for real life in terms of characterizations and settings. William Faulkner gave me the best lesson: experience, observation, imagination. I take real life, whether my own experience, or more likely, stories I’ve heard or observations I’ve had or research that I’ve done, and filter it through the imagination into captivating and complex fiction. I travel a lot, meet lots of people and scout the locations and scenery of much of my fiction. The characters are never directly anybody I know, but my experience, observation, and research help me create them.

Since readers are always telling me how realistic and vivid my characters are, I think I do a fair job of it!

There are so many genres today that authors write in, how did you come about writing in the Thriller genre and why?

I’ve always been attracted to the crime thriller genre, and specifically noir, for a few reasons. First, experiencing NYC when it was dangerous as a kid and teen. That gave me the basis for my first fictional and poetical forays. Also, my mother introduced me to a lot of Hindu mythology when I was a child and teen, particularly the great epics, The Mahabharata and Ramayana. If you think about it, these epics are all thrillers. They combine human drama with religion, philosophy, sex, and violence, just like my own books. I think of my own thriller fiction as a new mythology in itself, this one recording our modern reality in hyper form, and you see that much of old mythology, Hindu, Thai, Greek and Western, is within the background of the story to reflect back on the myths of old. Even my all-time heroes like Balzac, Dostoyevsky, and Faulkner, while ostensibly more literary, are essentially crime thriller writers much of the time.

The other thing is, because of my interest in identity issues that I suppose derive from my Indian-American mixed identity, and my growing up in the most multicultural place on Earth, Queens, NY, I find noir to be the best fit to explore ethnic, religious, national, and other identity issues. As a teen, I became fascinated by the Asian-American noir writers like Chang Rae-Lee and American ones like Richard Price. Then I became engaged in film noir and modern masters like Martin Scorsese, Carl Franklin, and others.

And frankly, I’m just attracted to dark subjects. Even when I was a kid, my favorite colors were black and red. Among painters, I prefer the dark and realistic Dutch masters to the more rosy Italians from the 17th century. I’m not sure why!

You’re a bestselling author, and I am sure you have a lot of fans. What was the most interesting feedback or question you have received from a reader?

That’s a tough one. I’ve had readers who essentially want to write the rest of my books for me, and give me elaborate plots and scenarios! Kudos to them, and I hope I haven’t stolen anything! But seriously, I’m always grateful for reader engagement, and people are always praising my lively characters and settings. Usually, the main criticism of The Brotherhood Chronicle are the sometimes confusing and convoluted plot elements and multiple names and identities for characters. This is done on purpose, of course, as part of the noir aesthetic, so while I can’t do much about that, I try to explain that choice to them.

If you could have anyone living or dead read your book and give you a review who would it be and why?

Among living reviewers, I guess Michiko Kakutani, because it would mean I’d have a New York Times Book Review, even though I know she’s stepped down. Among living writers Richard Price, since I admire his work so much, although I’m not sure if he writes reviews. Historically, perhaps a cross between Edmund Wilson and Malcolm Cowley. Wilson is a legend of modernist criticism and Cowley revived the reputation of my hero William Faulkner, so coming out of the grave and praising/dissecting my work would be pretty cool.

I hear you have a new book coming out this year. Can you tell us a bit about it?

Sure, it’s The Dance Towards Death, the third volume of my international crime trilogy The Brotherhood Chronicle. The book continues the plot and character development from book two, The Run and Hide, and brings back many characters and plot elements from the first book, The Brotherhood. So in a sense, it rounds out the trilogy, illuminates or solves some of the overall plot mysteries and puts the characters on the collision course towards their fates that the books have been leading towards (surprises in tow, of course).

To get more information about Tejas Desai and these books head over to Amazon.