Interview by: Rehana Paul
What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment?
Being able to live my dream of writing books, even though I do have to work a full-time job to pay the bills.
How would you describe your writing?
It varies depending on the book I’m working on, but I do my best to keep my prose clean, and as easy to read as possible. Occasionally I will go a little crazy playing around with sentences—but I think most writers do this.
Did you always want to be a writer?
I fell in love with writing when I was eight years old and have been making up stories ever since.
How does your heritage influence your work?
My heritage constantly pervades my work. As a writer of Zoroastrian and Indian heritage, I make it a point to write about characters who reflect both of these aspects in one way or another—especially in my contemporary novels, A Girl Like That and The Beauty of the Moment. My forthcoming book, Hunted By The Sky, also plays on elements of Indian and Persian mythology even though I’ve set it in a completely different world—a dreamscape inspired by medieval India.
What is a typical morning like for you?
I wake up at 5 am and try to get some writing done for a couple of hours. Then I work out, shower, have breakfast, and head off to work.
Who are some Asian female authors you love?
There are so many! Arundhati Roy, Sonali Dev, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Celeste Ng, Nayomi Munaweera, Kamila Shamsie, Soniah Kamal, and Nisha Sharma are a few I especially love.
Who inspires you?
My parents inspire me continually with their dedication and work ethic.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Persistence trumps talent in this profession. Don’t feel disheartened by rejection—and never let anyone convince you that your story doesn’t matter. It took me ten years to find a publisher for A Girl Like That —and it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t keep pushing hard and submitting.
What is your go-to coffee order?
A cup of Earl Gray with honey. I don’t drink coffee.
What, in your opinion, is the biggest problem facing Asian women today?
Asian women are told that they need to have everything to be considered successful—a career, a house, a happy marriage, children, to be perfect homemakers on top of that. I think it’s perfectly fine if you have one or two of these things and not the rest. The main thing is to surround yourself with people who give you joy and to make time for the things you love the most.
Tanaz Bhathena writes books for young adults. She is a two-time nominee of the Ontario Library Association’s White Pine Award, most recently for her novel, The Beauty of the Moment. Her acclaimed novel, A Girl Like That, was named a Best Book of the Year by numerous outlets including The Globe and Mail, Seventeen, and The Times of India. Her latest book, a YA fantasy called Hunted by the Sky, releases on June 23, 2020. Born in India and raised in Saudi Arabia and Canada, Tanaz lives in Mississauga, Ontario, with her family.