Guys. Can we just fangirl over the extreme beautiful awesome wonderfulness that is Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen??? Seriously. I have rarely read such a beautiful and diverse debut novel, and now I feel it’s my mission to tell the entire world that they must must MUST read this book RIGHT. THIS. VERY. SECOND. Or, at the very least, as soon as it comes out tomorrow.
To help further convince you (as if you should need any more convincing besides my review), I’m giving you a front row seat to this exclusive interview with the immeasurably talented Roshani herself (plus, she loves elephants… so you know she’s cool).
What inspired you to write The Star-Touched Queen? Did the idea come to you all at once, or little by little over time?
The stories I heard growing up were a huge inspiration to me! I was raised on a spectrum of folklore and fairytales, all of which helped me connect to my Indian and Filipino heritage. I also always loved the Hades & Persephone myth. Persephone intrigued me. Who was she? Did she choose to stay with Hades? Was it a Milton-esque “I’d rather reign in hell than serve in heaven” situation? Those questions became the foundation for TSTQ and really informed Maya’s character.
What has been the most surreal thing about seeing The Star-Touched Queen become a published novel? What’s been the best part? The oddest?
I think I cried when I saw my ISBN number…lol. It was this “I have arrived” moment, but not quite because there’s no socially acceptable way to drop your ISBN number into conversation. Alas. Best part has been readers’ reactions to this story and hunger for tales with different cultural frameworks. Oddest part has been seeing the number of people demanding a flesh-eating demon horse as a best friend (but I love it).
Do you see a lot of yourself in Maya? What do you have in common and where do your differences divide you?
I think I see a little of myself in all my characters! Maya and I share a love of books, and also a sense of curiosity when it comes to seeing things from as many perspectives as possible. Perhaps the biggest difference is that she can climb trees and scale through rafters, whereas I have no delusions of grandeur when it comes to my athletic prowess.
What is your writing process like? What’s an average day look like for you?
My writing process mostly involves muttering obscenities at my laptop and talking to myself. An average day involves hauling myself from my warm bed, stalking the kitchen for coffee, sketching things in my writing book and writing things in my sketching book. I try to meet a goal of at least 1-2,000 words a day when I’m not on deadline. It helps me to write out certain scenes in longhand before attempting to get them on the screen. I take a lot of breaks out of the day to read books and go on walks. My brain needs constant refreshers to meet the daily word beast.
The Star-Touched Queen draws from a myriad of mythologies… In your opinion, why does diversity in literature matter?
I think it matters because it’s a reflection of the world around us. Fairytales, folklore and mythology existed to explain the world. We update and retell them constantly as a way to reflect how those stories still inform how we perceive the world around us. Drawing from only one narrative tradition is limiting and, honestly, boring. The world is more beautiful the more we see of it.
What do you hope readers might take away from your novel?
I hope they take away a sense of enchantment! I hope their dreams that night are a little star-touched and that they wake up thinking they’ve tasted fairy fruit. I hope that they seek out stories with new settings and different cultures.
You handle the subject of reincarnation beautifully in The Star-Touched Queen. Did you have to do a lot of research for that, or is it something you were already pretty familiar with?
I’m very familiar with the concept of reincarnation since it’s a strong facet of Hinduism.
I have to ask… Will there be another book in this world soon? What’s coming up next for you?
Yes! There is! Up next is a companion book that takes place in the world of The Star-Touched Queen. Won’t say too much about it yet. Maya and Amar make an appearance, but this story is about characters that readers were introduced to in TSTQ. Expect a much more sinister and magical kingdom. Plus a super awesome, supremely deadly, all kinds of crazy tournament.
Who are some of your favorite authors/books?
Catherynne Valente, Laini Taylor, Neil Gaiman, Vladimir Nabokov, Julia Quinn, Angela Carter!
What’s currently on your reading list?
When A Scot Ties The Knot by Tessa Dare, and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
And lastly, if you have anything you’d like to add or say to readers, this is your chance!
This is the book of my heart. I hope it finds a home in yours. <3
Have you pre-ordered The Star-Touched Queen yet??? If not RUN do not walk [virtually] to your favorite bookseller and order it.