I did a lovely interview with Tara Sarath of Barefoot Publicity–you can check it out on her website barefootpublicity.com or read the full text below.
T.Dasu, author of the Spy Interrupted series and Managing Editor of IndiaWrites, a nonprofit literary press, kindly sat down with me to answer some questions about her process, including how she made the difficult decision to self publish, and what she hopes to accomplish through her latest novel The Perfect Candidate.
Thank you for taking the time to speak to me. Let’s jump right in with what most writers consider to be the most difficult part of the process—publishing! Why did you self-publish versus go the small press route?
I like keeping creative control of the process and content. When I was asked to make changes to the characters and plot that were simply unacceptable to me, I decided that it was time to take charge. Besides, I am quite comfortable with technology and digital platforms so it was relatively painless for me.
But having done that, why print and digital instead of just digital distribution?
For me reading is a very tactile and visual experience. Each book with its unique cover, font and design is like a friend. I see it on my bed, couch, side table and it gets imprinted on my brain. I love holding it. While e-books are convenient, print books are objects of sentiment and love.
Sounds like a lifelong reader and writer to me! Though it’s interesting that your day job as a data scientist has very little obvious crossover with a career in writing and publishing. How did you sustain and nourish your writing and your interest in writing while building your professional career?
The two benefit mutually. My profession places a premium on logic, clarity and preciseness. This helps me think about my characters and their actions. Fiction, the best kind in my mind at least, is about removing layers of complexity from people’s thoughts and behavior and getting to the bottom of simple truths. What can be more mathematical than that!
Let’s talk about your latest work, The Perfect Candidate, which has been out since November. Why pick American politics to write about? Arguably Indian politics are more interesting in terms of color and character (though maybe not!)
I was too young to vote when I left India, so all my political life has been lived out here in the USA. Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated a few months after I left India and I could never relate to the new cast of characters who emerged after her dominant 20 year reign that lasted almost all my life in India.
The racial and gender undertones are pretty rare in a political thriller novel—what prompted you to explore Islamophobia? Or entering into the LGBTQA space with Wasim, a gay Muslim character?
No, when I wrote I really wasn’t concerned about readers or turning them off. Islamophobia is very real and even though I had no idea that Trump would dump it on us in unprecedented rhetoric, I had seen some of the comments directed at Huma Abedin based on her origins, not on her actions or policy positions. That’s what got me thinking.
Regarding Wasim, it was just a love story and I am a total pushover for love stories. The relationship is based on what my friend at work described to me on record.
What strikes me when I read Graham Greene, one of your literary inspirations, is how his stories, even the not directly political ones, tend to be cast in a world without uncompromised goodness – everyone is a shade of gray- and therefore without a true moral “authority”. Do you see Spy, Interrupted in the same way or is Stephen set to become the authoritative center of the novels with his ascension to the Senate? Is that the kind of uncertainty and slippage you are trying to portray with Stephen and Tyler playing and feeding off one another?
Totally! When somebody occupies our thoughts and minds (to the extent Tyler and Stephen occupy each other’s) it is impossible not to absorb some of the traits of the other, either in self-defense or in revenge.
You’ve said before that one of your other inspirations is Gabriel Garcia Marquez–do you see yourself moving out of the realm of political fiction?
The political fiction is incidental in the sense that’s what the character wanted to do given his history, his family and his intense drive. It will continue to be a back drop but not the central theme as it was in The Perfect Candidate.
And finally what comes next?
A very unique story in a very unique setting, where Stephen and Tyler finally get their Reichenbach Falls moment.