Interview with Swati Teerdhala, Author of The Tiger at Midnight

Swati Teerdhala is a storyteller and writer.

After graduating from the University of Virginia with a B.S. in Finance and History, she tumbled into the marketing side of the technology industry. She’s passionate about many things, including how to make a proper cup of chai, the right ratio of curd-to-crust in a lemon tart, and diverse representation in the stories we tell.

Swati is represented by Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency. She currently lives in New York City and can be found wandering the streets with a pen or camera in hand.

What inspired you to write The Tiger at Midnight?

I first got the idea for The Tiger at Midnight when I was traveling and visiting an old Fort. It was the first spark of an idea of what would become The Tiger at Midnight and the first time I heard the voice of Kunal, one of the two main characters.

The Tiger at Midnight introduces two main characters: Esha and Kunal. What can you tell us about them?

Esha and Kunal are so different yet so similar. Esha is a legendary rebel known as the Viper who is determined to bring down the hated General of the Red Fortress, but she’s also a girl trying to deal with the pain of her past. Kunal is an obedient soldier for all purposes, but there’s a voice inside him that’s begun to question his duty and wants something more for his future. When they collide, well…let’s just say sparks fly. 🙂

Tell us about your writing journey with The Tiger at Midnight. What were some of your biggest challenges?

The hardest, and best, part of writing The Tiger at Midnight was writing from both Esha and Kunal’s points of view. It definitely challenged me to get into both of their heads and truly understand them and what they wanted.

On a more logistical front, I was working a full time job while writing The Tiger at Midnight, one that was pretty demanding. Making time to write was a challenge but definitely helped me learn how to prioritize!

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I wanted to write a story that celebrated my Indian heritage and tackled the issue of finding your own path, even when there’s familial or community pressure, something that I think is really common for second-generation immigrant kids in America. That’s a huge part of what both Kunal and Esha deal with during this book—their duty to themselves vs. others. Esha and Kunal both struggle with this idea in very different ways. I hope that readers are able to read this book and understand that better.

What YA books would you recommend to our readers?

So many! If you love strong characters and intricate worldbuilding, I’d suggest An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir or Forest of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie Dao. If you love mystery, definitely suggest the Charlotte Holmes series by Brittany Cavallaro (first book is A Study in Charlotte). As for romance, The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh and The Winner’s Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. And that’s only scratching the surface!

What books are up next on your Want to Read shelf?

I’m dying to read Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie Dao, the follow up to Forest of A Thousand Lanterns. I’m also so excited for The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi and Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri!

Read more about The Tiger at Midnight :

The Tiger at Midnight – Swati Teerdhala


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