SP: Hi Tanvi! We’re so excited to have you here on the Spinning Pen! Tell us all a little bit about you and your writing journey.
TB: Hi, thank you for having me! I’m Tanvi Berwah and I write books that will send you into some kind of existential dread at least once. I used to run fansites during the peak Twilight/The Hunger Games fandom time and an alarmingly huge part of my personality comes from being terminally online during those years lol. I have been writing since I was a kid. Many awful and some not-so-awful manuscripts later, I got into Pitch Wars in 2019 and that really got me to where I am now: happily writing books about angry girls and monsters, figuratively and literally.
SP: Ok now for the part we’ve been waiting for…tell us about your first book deal for MONSTERS BORN AND MADE! How did you land this sweet deal and how did it feel?
TB: After years of shelved manuscripts I was very lucky when I got my agent promptly, and went on submission fairly quickly–barring the initial few weeks when we were all adjusting to the pandemic lockdown. I remember I woke up all groggy and looked at my phone, and had a missed call AND an email from my agent. And I just simultaneously read the email while calling her back, and just felt so, so weird. It was like watching all that happen to someone else. Getting to this point is honestly so cathartic and so surreal at the same time. I still sometimes can’t believe I HAVE A BOOK????
SP: Talk to us about your book! What is Monsters Born and Made about?? How long have you been working on this book? What’s been the hardest part? Most fun?
TB: MONSTERS BORN AND MADE is about a sixteen-year-old girl, Koral, who is forced to hunt and capture these vicious sea monsters called the maristags for a deadly chariot race tournament. And when her family’s finances worsen, she cheats her way into this tournament for the gold prize. Except the tournament is reserved only for the upper class–and one of the strongest contenders is Koral’s ex boyfriend who totally ghosted her two years ago. SO FUN.
I got the very first idea for this book in 2018. I can clearly see “water monsters???” written in block letters in my journal from that year. I wrote and revised a whole draft in the first half of that year, and then with some feedback, rewrote it again. And again. And kept repeating this process until finally in late 2019 I got into Pitch Wars, like I mentioned. I had the concept in my mind but it had been hard to get the execution right. My mentor in PW, Rebecca Schaeffer, truly changed the way I was looking at the story and it’s all thanks to her that I have a book I’m proud of. She made me see what the exciting, fun parts of the book were–the monsters and the races! I’m really excited for everyone to read the actual races of this tournament!
SP: What’s one or two craft techniques you would recommend to other writers?
TB: This is something I swear by now when I’m drafting a first/zero draft–instead of thinking of the whole story, which can get overwhelming, break it down in parts. It has helped me tremendously to have four different documents, each dedicated to four parts–the beginning, part 1 of Act 2, part 2 of Act, and the ending. And it doesn’t have to be just four. Go wild, cut down even these four into halves! Just having these bite-sized chunks being done one by one gives such a feeling of accomplishment and forward momentum.
SP: Time for the lightning round! Early bird or night owl?
TB: NIGHT OWL!!
SP: Most obscure hobby?
TB: Collecting shiny rocks!
SP: Word you can never spell? This may be a trick question.
Yeah I totally did not spell that with the spellchecker’s help or anything.
SP: Alright, time’s up! We’re so sad to see you go! BUT…there’s way more where this came from. Where can we go to read more from you?
TB: I highly recommend checking out the Foreshadow YA anthology, which has a story from me, titled ESCAPE, plus a whole bunch of ‘22 debuts! It’s a great short story collection (ahem), along with craft essays and prompts for any aspiring authors.
SP: Thanks so much for your time Tanvi!