Q1. Tejaswi, it’s wonderful to have you with us for this Q&A. Please tell us about your humble beginnings as an author.
Hi Nisar, it’s an absolute pleasure being here! I started writing when I was in school, but those pieces ended up being mere scribblings. While in college, I interned with a couple of websites as a reporter but given my love for horror which goes back to when I was 5, I started my own horror blog where I reviewed horror movies in 2014. I switched to writing stories and wrote the first chapter of The Psychopath, The Cannibal, The Lover in January 2015.
The first chapter, which was written in 2015, stood the test of time and I chose not to disturb it when I proceeded with writing the rest of the book between 2017/18 and 2020 (80% of it was written in 2020). I wanted my debut to be close to my heart and it is there, right there. There is a major 90s vibe which I am addicted to, and I wanted to make sure it outlined my book. Also, all the major settings and characters have been heavily inspired by places and people I have known as well as the back of my hand. The product, of course, is fictional. But the spirit of the story is very real.
Q3. Which writers have influenced your storytelling the most? And what advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Though I know that most book bloggers would boo me for saying this, but it is how it is. My storytelling has been inspired more by filmmakers than by authors, the only reason for this being exposure. I had exposure to a lot of visual horror since my childhood, but I never got the chance to read a horror novel until I was a teenager. I am most inspired by Alexandre Aja, Takashi Miike, Quentin Tarantino, Neil Marshall, Pascal Laugier, and Park Hoon-Jung. That being said, I read a lot of authors, and having been reading them for a long time, Michael Crichton, Dean Koontz, and Sidney Sheldon are at the top.
My advice to aspiring authors – ‘Write whatever you want, and you will eventually find an audience.’
Q4. You one of the recipients of the 2021 HWA Diversity Grant. Can you tell us more about this scholarship and how it has helped your growth as a horror writer?
The HWA Diversity Grant is a scholarship that helps underrepresented horror voices gain footing in the industry. I am glad that HWA recognized my passion and also deemed my work good enough to make a dent in the industry. Apart from the monetary benefits, it has helped me get into the thick of the web of horror writers from across the globe. And man, there is a LOT to learn from them!
Q5. What are your hobbies besides reading and writing? And what are you currently working on?
I write only in the evenings since I have a day job. I currently head sales for India’s first cannabis company, and being a very effort intensive space, it takes up a lot of my time.
I am currently working on a crime-thriller and a psychological horror manuscript, both of which are in their final stages. I am also working on a couple of other concepts which I am thinking to start ironing out soon.
Tejaswi Priyadarshi | +91-8928749846
Winner – HWA Diversity Grant
Interview conducted by Nisar Sufi.
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