Q & A with author Roshani Chokshi

Blog_Roshani_picHi Roshani! It’s such a pleasure to chat with you again. When I spoke with you about The Star-Touched Queen, it was labeled as 2016’s Most Anticipated Debut by Parade, Buzzed, Goodreads, Paste Magazine, We Need Diverse Books and more. That must have been both exciting and nerve-wracking! Well, your debut certainly lived up to the positive hype! The Star-Touched Queen was lyrical and magical–and took me places my imagination could never have conjured up on its own. Congratulations on all of your writing success!
Roshani: Thank you!

Let’s talk about Book 2 in the series, A Crown of Wishes:

 

The reviews of A Crown of Wishes are also glowing! (I can’t wait to dig in to my copy!) Did you have the sequel’s story in your head while you were writing The Star-Touched Queen?
Roshani: I had a rough idea of the things that I wanted Gauri vs. Maya to experience. They had such divergent experiences growing up in Bharata, and I really wanted to explore those emotional consequences in A CROWN OF WISHES. I also knew the moment I wrote the tapestry scene in The Star-Touched Queen (the chapter was called “The Boy With Two Threads”) that I wanted Vikram to be in this story. In one of the earliest drafts of TSTQ, Vikram was a character, but only as a young boy. His scene eventually needed to be cut, but he lingered.

Blog_Crown_coverpicWhat is one thing you hope readers will get out of A Crown of Wishes?
Roshani: I hope they close the book grinning. And maybe that night, they’ll dream about stories. And maybe the next day, they’ll see a bird dart from a tree and wonder if it came from Kubera’s court.

How was writing A Crown of Wishes different than writing your debut? Was the editing process easier this time around? Did the characters surprise you along the way?
Roshani: Writing under a contractual deadline vs. “letting a story simmer and roll around in your thoughts for 4+ years” is bound to be a VASTLY different experience. I treated my outline religiously with ACOW. The editing process with my first book taught me to reconsider everything I knew about storytelling—when to hold back, when to give a little, when to move on. I think the main difference with ACOW was its forward sense of momentum. I’d never cried over scenes until I wrote ACOW. I mean, I’d cried in the sense of frustration, but not in the sense that a book’s character had put me through the emotional wringer because of their situations. To me, Gauri and Vikram became people that I could spot in a crowd. They became family.

Any hints on your next project? Will you continue to use mythology as your inspiration?
Roshani: I can pretty much guarantee that mythology will always be in my stories. My next YA project is THE GILDED WOLVES. It’s a dark, sultry, ish-heist story set in the glamorous La Belle Epoque era of Paris. I love it to pieces, and I can’t wait for readers to meet the characters and world!

Did you always want to be a writer? What inspires your writing? Why did you choose to write YA novels?
Roshani: Well, I always wanted to be a sorceress. And writing is its own sorcery. So yes.
My family and friends inspire my stories. I always return to the stories I grew up with or the stories I never had. I’m inspired by the places I’ve visited and the places I haven’t.
YA is a critical emotional landscape. It has emotional immediacy and consequences, vivid feelings and so much wanting. I don’t think we ever divorce ourselves from that sense of scrambling to find who we are. I’m not always sure that I know that answer for myself and so writing YA often feels like discovery.

A Crown of Wishes is about Gauri. Did you always know you’d want to tell her story, or did something about her story feel untold to you after you finished writing The Star-Touched Queen? Was her character influenced by any people that you knew?
Roshani: Yes. Gauri’s story had always had a special place in my heart. I left her story purposely unfinished so that I could follow that emotional thread in ACOW. As for her character, she’s a lot like my little sister. Courageous, fierce and full of compassion.

What are some books that are similar in nature to yours that you’d recommend to other readers?
Roshani: I think because of the magical tournament aspect, ACOW has gotten a lot of comparisons to Stephanie Garber’s CARAVAL, which delights me to no end because Stephanie is a wonderful friend whose book *stole* my heart!
I’d also recommend Lloyd Alexander’s THE IRON RING. It was one of the first books I ever read that was influenced by Hindu mythology, and I thought Alexander’s respect and admiration for the culture was lovingly rendered and creatively executed.

If you will be part of the Tournament of Wishes and you can choose your partner either real or fictional character, who will you pick to join you in Alaka? This book is about wishes so obviously I have to ask, what would you wish for if you won the Tournament of Wishes?
Roshani: I would wish for no need of wishes, with the condition that I’m not killed or incapacitated. And as for partner, I would choose Agnieska from UPROOTED because she’s powerful, hilarious and would probably not mind taking frequent snack breaks…

Thank you, Roshani!

To hear an excerpt from the audiobook of A CROWN OF WISHES, click HERE

“Careful plotting, multiple viewpoints, high-stakes action, and a slow-burn relationship make this heady fantasy completely engrossing. A first pick for YA collections.” —School Library Journal, STARRED review

“Chokshi’s debut, The Star-Touched Queen (2016), was lush and gorgeously written, and Chokshi has only improved; this lovely companion tale boasts a stronger narrative structure in addition to the delightful prose.” —Booklist

“With a happily-ever-after reminiscent of beloved fairy tales, this is a great pick for voracious readers who like their bejeweled princesses to have hard edges.” —Kirkus Reviews

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