Sarvenaz Tash was born in Tehran, Iran and grew up on Long Island, NY. She received her BFA in Film and Television from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. This means she got to spend most of college running around and making movies (it was a lot of fun). She has dabbled in all sorts of writing including screenwriting, copywriting, and professional tweeting. Sarvenaz currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. The Mapmaker and the Ghost is her debut novel. For more info, visit her website.
Let the conversation begin!
What initially inspired you to pursue a career in writing?
All of the MG books I read and loved as a child, especially those by Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary and Ellen Raskin. I spent so much of my childhood getting lost in books that the bug to write books of my own infected me from very early on.
What books are you reading right now?
I’m working on Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. It’s one of those books I’ve been meaning to get to for a long, long time. I haven’t gotten very far yet. I can see why it’s brilliant but, man, is it a challenging read! I love switching up genres and high-brow, low-brow books on a regular basis. After this one, I plan on going through a steady diet of light romances! (In fact, I am extremely excited about the upcoming new Bridget Jones book.)
Name someone who supported your writing journey outside of family members.
One of the first people outside my family to support my writing was my screenwriting professor at NYU, Lamar Sanders. He taught one of the very first classes I ever took there as a freshman. It was called Storytelling Strategies and looked at story structure through classic mythologies. It was a wonderful, wonderful class and he was so encouraging. I don’t know if I would have started the journey to believing I could really be a writer if it wasn’t for him.
What do you think you do best in your writing? Bragging is encouraged.
I think the thing that comes easiest to me is dialogue. For one, I had a lot of practice with it when I was screenwriting. And, for another, my characters tend to talk to me easily. (They don’t tend to do what I want them to in order to move the plot along, but, boy, are they chatty!) A really pivotal dialogue scene, or a really funny one, are some of my favorite things to write.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Fantasy mentor? Without a doubt, J.K. Rowling. Not only are her books brilliant, incomparable masterpieces, but I find she is also so admirable as a human being, especially one who has been reluctantly thrust into the spotlight. Someone who is truly full of grace, talent, intelligence and generosity: what more could you ask for in a writer?
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing?
There are lots of things I find challenging. Plotting is one. I usually know the beginning and end of my story, but figuring out the middle is often one of my biggest challenges. I outline to do it, but I also hate the outline process with a passion for this reason.
Another challenge sometimes is finding the motivation to sit and write at all. Especially when I’m stuck on a plot point (see above). Sometimes opening up the document on my computer is half the battle.
Coffee or tea?
Definitely coffee, even though I’m Persian and tea is basically the 5th food group. My parents have tea 4-5 times a day. But I’ve always liked the taste of coffee, and coffee ice cream has been my very favorite for as long as I can remember.