newsletter issue #7; characters and hereditary

tanvi berwah
Hi everyone! We’re going back to December, all the time, as it were. (Taylor is my #1 artist on Spotify Wrapped, can you tell?)
A synopsis and a bunch of chapters with bad grammar later, I am: a Nanowrimo 2021 winner, thank you very much! It doesn’t matter if those 50k words belong to the same project or not, also thank you very much.
[Making a time machine right now to go punch 2009-me who wrote 53k in 15 days during her first Nano. HMU if you want a ride.]

Yep, we’re back to the new/old divide because why not.
MONSTERS BORN AND MADE is off to copy-edits, at last! It’s been a fun few days and I’m super eager to get the book back and get the final proofing etc etc ball rolling etc etc. Plus, I saw the character sketches for the preorder campaign and they’re so cool. I love character art, so imagine my absolute delight that there will be character cards for MY characters. These people I made up in my head!!! Who am I!!!!
Speaking of characters, here’s some old picrews I found:
And thank you so much to all 700+ of you who have added it on Goodreads!! Without the proper synopsis and cover, at that! If you’re feeling extremely generous, I won’t mind if you gave it a shoutout on Twitter/IG heh
I’m not a person who you’d call a “movie person.” I watch, like, one new movie a year unless you count Marvel movies, which many of you don’t. It’s okay. I understand the arguments against them, the constant churn of capitalist-driven military-propagandist stories that are devouring all expressions of art, etc etc.
Which is why I’m surprised to find myself in the middle of a horror movie binge, catching up on a bunch of art-houses from the past few years. The years immediately preceding the pandemic have an amazing output that I had no idea about beyond the occasional meme, as is the Millenial experience I guess, what with being bombarded with so much pop culture that there’s barely anything leaving a lasting mark. It’s sad, is what it is. Not just because, of course, the misery we’re trapped in, but all this is making us miss so many good human stories.
Us, I say, when I mean me. Idk, maybe my Hereditary is your something else.
Yeah, this is the third place where I want to talk about Hereditary, or what it taught me about storytelling. The frankness of emotions which it builds upon. And here’s the thing, every time I learn something about storytelling that completely rocks my world, it is always down to emotions. Toni Collette and Alex Wolff delivered such exquisite, visceral performances that I, as an emotion whore, have been thinking over and over again about that one ants nightmare scene for two days now.
It’s an excellent scene, where Toni Collette sleepwalks to her son’s room, and imagines his corpse being devoured by black ants, much like how her now-dead daughter’s head was found at the site of the accident that sets off everything. The desperation and horror that one scene invokes in this character, as a mother, as a human being, as someone deep in the clutches of all her fears at once. There’s no punches pulled, no half-done contorted tears that seem melodramatic. It’s this mother’s bare face, frozen, a soul-deep depiction of the absolute terror that we can never really know because when you go through it, you’re incapable of understanding it, and the minute you step even an inch away, your mind will already compartmentalize it so you don’t keep reliving that emotion and torture yourself. To have that kind of wound displayed on screen, in a story as dread-soaked as this, is a gift. It teaches you what a human is capable of feeling, in the worst of our despair, what you can pull out of the world, out of yourself, bring to page/screen, and have someone else sit up and say, Oh my God, that is a real emotion.
And I think this one thing, repeatedly, is what makes a good story. Forget about the decoration of plot and structure and arcs and what not. Find that human emotion, go all in, and we’ll always have something to say. Perhaps an old emotion made new, perhaps an entirely new one that we have no word for yet but in excavating ourselves, we find it. Who knows?
Anyway, you should watch this, if you haven’t.
  1. How Vincent van Gogh’s Favorite Works of French Literature Influenced His Art and Identity: If you follow me on IG, then you may have caught on the fact that I’m in my Van Gogh phase. So naturally, this would make my list. For Van Gogh, his readings remain a mainstay, and specially Zola. It’s wonderful to see this study of how arts intersect and inform the artist.
  2. The Influence of Indian conquest on British fashion in the Victorian era: I found this project when I was researching for a future story. As the title states, it’s an interesting study specifically of fashion in the British Empire as it related to the Indian subcontinent. Although my story was meant to be historical, I think this will also inform how I build my fantasy worlds too.
My friend Victor had his book announcement! Check it out:
Victor Manibo
Thrilled to finally announce that my debut novel is coming in June 2022 from @ErewhonBooks!

THE SLEEPLESS is a near-future sci-fi noir mystery that will keep you up all night. Read all about it here:
h/t @tordotcom
  1. All Of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman: It’s been a while since I read a YA book on a complete whim and it took me by surprise. AOUV is fast-paced, compelling read with sharp characters who are all absolute idiots, which is a dangerous thing when they’re all thrown in a competition to kill one another. Pick this one up. You’re welcome.
  2. Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin: A short-story collection by my new favorite writer, this one was on my TBR for a while and I’m so mad I didn’t get to it earlier. This book is deeply unsettling, every story gets under your skin. Every story is a ghoulish, creepy impression. And no, none of it is vague–you get what you read. If a story title says “mouthful of birds” then that’s what you’re reading. God, what a master writer. Read this, please.
Next time I send this, we’ll be in 2022. What a thought, huh, what with most of us still processing 2020. :sob: Which is very relevant to the fact that, although I said I’d be fixing my website in the last newsletter, I very much did not. Maybe this time. Hopefully.
Love and light. Take care <3
Monsters Born and Made by Tanvi Berwah
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tanvi berwah
tanvi berwah @tanviberwah

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