Welcome to my blog, Tasha, and thank you for taking the time to answer some questions!
Bookworms, grab a brew and settle down for an adventure into the mind of an inspirational author and exceptional writing tutor!
So, when did you first realise that you were a storyteller?
I can’t remember ever not feeling like a storyteller! I started telling my poor parents stories as soon as I could talk, and carried my picture books with me everywhere. Of course, all children like to tell stories and hear stories, but perhaps that just means all of us are storytellers, really. I just made it my entire personality.
Do you remember when you came up with the first story idea that would ultimately go on to be published as a novel? How did you know this was the idea that was worth telling?
I’m a daydreamer, and I’ve always loved to sink into stories inside my own head. But I always know an idea is worth writing about when I can’t stop thinking about it, and all I want to do is spend my time living and breathing that story. I knew my most recently published novel, The Jasmine Throne, was worth writing about because I kept thinking about its world and its characters, and my brain was absolutely full of forests and battles, crumbling temples and monsters with flowers for eyes. I had to write it.
Do you have a story of yours that you are most proud of?
I’m always proudest of the story I most recently finished! The last thing I finished writing was What Souls Are Made Of, a YA retelling of the classic Wuthering Heights where Heathcliff and Cathy are of South Asian descent that delves into Britain’s relationship with India and empire. It’s a big change from my normal genre, which is epic fantasy. It always feels like an accomplishment to stretch yourself and write something new and different.
Why did you decide to write novels, as opposed to telling stories in another format?
It wasn’t really a decision I made consciously. I think I began writing novels because novels were the main way that I consumed stories. I’ve never loved TV shows half as much as I love books. My favourite genre has always been fantasy, and there’s nothing more quintessentially fantasy than a big series of doorstopper novels. I wanted to create the kind of stories I loved, and still love, and that made novels my natural home.
Why do you think stories are important?
Oh, that’s a large question, and I think it has so many possible answers. Stories are important because they make you feel things; because they help make sense of the world or articulate what doesn’t make sense about the lives we’re living. They entertain us and make us ask questions. Maybe stories are just important because they feel important, and make our lives feel so much bigger and stranger.
National Storytelling Week is all about the oral tradition of storytelling. Do you think it’s important to keep this tradition alive, when we have so many other ways of consuming and telling stories these days?
It’s so important to keep the tradition of oral storytelling alive! The world is so much better for being filled with stories in lots of different kinds of vessels: plays and tv shows, poems and short stories, novels and oral storytelling. Each form has its own power and its own magic, and it would be a real loss to us all to lose the oral tradition.
What do you think is different about writing a story down on paper as opposed to telling it out loud?
You can polish the words of the story when you’re writing it down and make the prose really shine. A story told out loud is usually messier, because you can’t carefully select every word, but it’s also richer. It’s shaped by your voice, your facial expressions, and your body language – even by the ambiance of the room you’re telling it in! You can’t bring that kind of magic to a written down story, though all writers certainly do our best to try.
How do you like to consume your stories? (Reading, listening, watching, etc.)
I absolutely love reading books. Maybe it’s the ritual of it all that I love: making a cup of tea, curling up on the sofa under a blanket, cracking open a book and sinking into the story. It’s bliss. But lately I’ve also really grown to love listening to stories, too. Whenever I go for a walk, I pop on my headphones and listen to an audiobook or audio drama. Hearing a story being told to you is a real pleasure, and I’m so glad audiobooks have become so much more popular and accessible in the last few years.
If you had one piece of advice for someone wanting to tell a story of their own, what would it be?
I’d say be brave. Tell the story you’ve always wanted to tell; in the way you’ve always wanted to tell it. Don’t worry about perfection. Sometimes it’s the flaws in a story that make it unique and beautiful.
Thank you so much for joining me today, Tasha… What a wonderful story (or five 😉) you have!
Bookworms, keep scrolling and you’ll find links to two of Tasha’s books. Just hit those stunning covers to buy your copy!
More about Tasha…
Tasha is a tutor at The Novelry. Offering support for beginner and established authors at any stage of their writing career, The Novelry will take writers from the very kernel of an idea through to a polished manuscript ready for literary agent submission. With mentoring from bestselling authors and editorial advice from leading industry professionals, The Novelry is the writing school recommended by leading literary agents.
Tasha Suri is the award-winning author of The Books of Ambha duology (Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash) and the epic fantasy The Jasmine Throne. She has won the Best Newcomer Award from the British Fantasy Society (2019) and has been nominated for the Astounding Award and Locus Award for Best First Novel. Her novel What Souls are Made Of is a Young Adult take on Wuthering Heights.
When TIME asked leading fantasy authors—George RR Martin, Neil Gaiman, Tomi Adeyemi, NK Jemisin and Sabaa Tahir to compile a list of the 100 best fantasy books of all time, dating back to the 9th century, they chose Tasha Suri’s Empire of Sand to be on their list.
One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne.
The other is a priestess searching for her family.
Together, they will change the fate of an empire.
Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of powerful magic – but is now little more than a decaying ruin.
Priya is a maidservant, one of several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to attend Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, as long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides. But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled . . .
The Jasmine Throne begins an epic fantasy trilogy set in a world inspired by the history and romances of India, in which a captive princess and a maidservant in possession of forbidden magic become unlikely allies. The sapphic romance and Booktok sensation!
What Souls Are Made Of, British Fantasy Award-winning author Tasha Suri’s masterful new take on Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, will leave readers breathless.
Sometimes, lost things find their way home…
Yorkshire, North of England, 1786. As the abandoned son of a lascar—a sailor from India—Heathcliff has spent most of his young life maligned as an “outsider.” Now he’s been flung into an alien life in the Yorkshire moors, where he clings to his birth father’s language even though it makes the children of the house call him an animal, and the maids claim he speaks gibberish.
Catherine is the younger child of the estate’s owner, a daughter with light skin and brown curls and a mother that nobody talks about. Her father is grooming her for a place in proper society, and that’s all that matters. Catherine knows she must mold herself into someone pretty and good and marriageable, even though it might destroy her spirit.
As they occasionally flee into the moors to escape judgment and share the half-remembered language of their unknown kin, Catherine and Heathcliff come to find solace in each other. Deep down in their souls, they can feel they are the same.
But when Catherine’s father dies and the household’s treatment of Heathcliff only grows more cruel, their relationship becomes strained and threatens to unravel. For how can they ever be together, when loving each other—and indeed, loving themselves—is as good as throwing themselves into poverty and death?