April 26, 2016

Happy book birthday to Roshani Chokshi. THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN launches today!

Congrats to Roshani on the release of her book! Her debut, a fantasy novel based on South Asian folklore, has been drawing rave reviews for its lush writing, mythic story-telling, and beautifully-imagined world.

The Story
Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you're only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire...

But Akaran has its own secrets -- thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most...including herself.

The Reviews
"A stunning debut filled with lush writing, smart characters, and a mysterious plot that provides as many twists as it does swoons."
--Starred Review, School Library Journal

"Chokshi's prose is captivating, and the pages come alive through lush descriptions of Night Bazaar teeming with Otherworldly delights, gardens made of glass, and realms where the lines between life and death are blurred."
--Starred Review, Publisher's Weekly

"The Star-Touched Queen enthralls with mystery and romance. Chokshi's storytelling glimmers like magic on every page-a novel meant to be savored."
--Cindy Pon, author of Serpentine and Silver Phoenix

"Magic is woven into every word of The Star-Touched Queen. Vibrantly imaginative and gracefully written, I was spellbound from the first line. A dazzling, sensuous feast of world-building, romance, and mythology."
--Sarah J. Maas, NYT Bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series.

The Interview
Q: Where did you get the inspiration for your book? A: I was inspired from the stories I knew from childhood. THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN draws from myths like the Indian Savitri and Satyavan, and the Greek myths of Cupid and Psyche, and Hades and Persephone. My parents always encouraged my siblings and I to read widely, but it was disappointing when we never saw anyone who looked like us on the shelves. Those myths and that feeling of absence inspired the book.

Q: Describe your writing process, from idea to final draft. A: It's a nightmare. First, I write it down. Then I scratch it out. Then I languish on some surface in my house (usually my giant bear dog). I call my best friend and tell her all the weird things about it in a non-linear order. Once I'm done languishing, fretting, self-rejecting (about a month long process), I sit down and immediately need to know the beginning and the end. I write drafts weirdly because I like to know where they're going, but not too much. I force myself to churn out at least 1500 a day, and when I'm on a self-imposed deadline, it's 2-3,000 a day. I write with the expectation that it will all be rewritten. Once I feel like it's as done as it can be in that form, I rest the book for a month, then read it with fresh eyes to start the process from the top!

Q: Tell us about your journey, from finding an agent to publication.
A: I queried for three months before Thao offered me representation after an R&R. After that, more revisions! We went on submission in October. If I thought I knew rejection then, I was destined to be schooled anew. The worst pass was hearing "I just don't know where this would live." In February, I took the editors' comments and suggestions for why it wasn't working and did some serious revisions, cutting out characters and words, changing the whole thing from 3rd POV to 1st POV. Eileen from St. Martin's loved the revisions. When we spoke on the phone, I knew TSTQ had found a home. And voila! Months of heartache and ego-pummeling later, there was a happy ending :)

Q: Why would someone want to buy your book? A: Because it's new and familiar. These are old stories being given new shape and new skins. But the emotion is still there. I think it speaks to loneliness and new love, to the magic of becoming more than you think you are and defying expectations. It's new because Indian fantasy doesn't have a strong presence in YA. That's a pity because the stories of South Asia have much to offer if people would only take the time to look.

Q: What are your favorite books? What are you reading now? A: I love Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. My other favorites are Deathless by Catherynne Valente, Tithe by Holly Black, Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. I'm currently reading Sarah J. Maas's Throne of Glass series and Vicious by V.E. Schwab.

Check out Roshani's book on Amazon and on Goodreads.