In honor of this week’s release of the gorgeous new YA novel, The Star-Touched Queen, I am re-running a delightful interview I did with author Roshani Chokshi back in February.
Why The Star-Touched Queen is a Must-Read:
The Star-Touched Queen is one of the most talked-about YA debut novels of 2016 for good reason. Sarah J. Maas calls Rokshani Chokshi’s writing “flawless.” Then there’s Indian mythology, great world-building (trees that bear memories instead of fruit!?), a unique protagonist you want to root for, plus a cover so beautiful it makes you feel like you’re stepping into a dream.
Interview with Rokshani Chokshi
Eve: Roshani, YA fans are already talking about your gorgeous Pinterest page. Where did you find such beautiful pictures to represent The Star-Touched Queen?
RC: Thank you! I guess I got ridiculously lucky on Pinterest. But I also typed in strange things in the search box, like, “gothic jeweled fruit” and “bloody hands.” You’ll get some interesting stuff…
Eve: What made you fall in love with your novel?
RC: I love this question! I fell in love with it because of its ease. It’s not a new story. It’s threaded with a thousand and one familiar tales, from fairytales to folklore all across the world. But what made me so excited about writing it was tweaking little things and pushing the worldbuilding farther.
Eve: Are you planning a book tour? If so, what is a question you hope someone asks?
RC: Not sure yet! I know we’re doing a blog tour, and I’m very excited for that. I hope someone asks me what my job would be in the wizarding (and witches!) world of Harry Potter.
Eve: Now I have to ask. . . What would your job be in the wizarding world of Harry Potter?
RC: I would love to be MINISTER OF MAGIC!!! Thank you for asking. 🙂
Eve: The publishing industry is a notoriously slow-moving machine. From writing to publication, how long was the “birthing” process of your book? What have some of the highlights been?
RC: From writing to sale…about two years. The highlights have been working with my agent and editor who have been incredible champions throughout all my doubts, rewrites and crazy revision ideas.
Eve: Many YA writers also seem to be music lovers. Did you create a playlist for your novel and, if so, what are some of the songs on it?
RC: Yes! “Satellite” by Guster, “Nagada Sang Dhol” from the Bollywood film Ram-Leela and, don’t laugh, “679” by Fetty Wap. My brain is a many-fangled beast…
Eve: Your eclectic song choices make me want to read the book even more! Speaking of music, YA authors Libba Bray, Natalie Standiford, Barnabas Miller, and Daniel Ehrenhaft have been known to perform at publishing industry events with their band, Tiger Beat. If you were in an authors band, what instrument would you play?
RC: Glass harmonica. It’s just so strange. I must possess it.
Eve: I LOVE the glass harmonica. Great pick. . . What are some books you recently read that you loved?
RC: UPROOTED by Naomi Novik recently ate my soul (in the best way possible) and I also loved RADIANCE by Catherynne Valente.
Eve: Having an online presence is a big deal for writers. How do you balance writing and social media?
RC: I think putting my phone on Do Not Disturb has been the most helpful. Maybe it’s just me, but I can get anxious on social media. So, if I’m not careful, it can take up way more hours of my day than it should.
Eve: In the early days of crafting your novel, were you shy about sharing what you’d written with others?
RC: Very much!!! But that’s part of the beauty of writing. We want it to be read, seen and felt. So taking that first step with beta readers and critique partners is a wonderful and terrifying moment.
Eve: Do you have a critique group and, if so, how did you find them?
RC: Yes. I found them on sites like Ladies Who Critique or Twitter!
Eve: Your novel has such an evocative title. Who came up with the title, The Star-Touched Queen? Was this the same title you used when querying agents?
RC: When I queried agents, I used the title “THE GLASS GARDEN.” After signing with my agent, we sold the book when it was titled THE BRIDE OF DUSK AND GLASS. AFTER selling, we changed it to THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN thanks to the geniuses over at MacMillan.
Eve: What’s your typical writing schedule? Do you reward yourself for meeting writing goals?
RC: I try to get most of my writing done in the morning-early afternoon. The light in my favorite room is at its softest, and it makes me feel deliciously inspired. I do reward myself! Every 1k gets me half a Cadbury bar. I do, however, frequently break these rules…what are rules for after all…
Eve: Many writers have dark moments while working on their novels, times when they’re not sure they’ll ever finish. If you encountered hurdles like this, how did you overcome them?
RC: When I get this way (and it does happen), I read my favorite books. I return to the worlds of Neil Gaiman, Laini Taylor and Catherynne Valente. I let them guide me back to why I love writing.
Eve: Was there any particular epiphany you had while writing your novel when you said to yourself, “Hey, I can do this. I’m going to publish this thing.”
RC: No, actually! And I WISH I DID! When I finished TSTQ, there was a great surge of “wow. I did the thing!” But that was what I was celebrating. Not the idea that I could actually find it on bookshelves one day.
Eve: Lately, YA book lovers seem to be saying there is an overemphasis on romance in YA fiction. What are your thoughts on this?
RC: I love reading romance in YA. But I don’t think it’s critical to a plot. There are some books, like SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo, which deftly handle characterization and takes the focus away from the characters’ romantic entanglements. Other beautiful books, like ALL OUR PRETTY SONGS by Sarah McCarry, have romance but focus on the friendship and the experience of growing. I have no problem with romance, but I personally prefer books where romance is not the ONLY motivation for the character.
Eve: Who are some of your favorite fictional characters and why?
RC: Howl, from HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE because he was vain and wonderful and my first serious book boyfriend.
Kaye, from Holly Black’s TITHE because she was fierce and gritty.
Razgut, from Laini Taylor’s DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE trilogy because he was pitiful and deranged and wildly funny.
Eve: What’s something you really hope people say after they read your novel?
RC: I hope they forget they were reading. I hope they think they’ve tasted fairy fruit and fallen in love and spent time wandering through Otherworldly palaces.
Eve: Best of luck to you, Roshani. Ever since I read your short story, The Star Maiden, in Shimmer magazine, I knew you’d be a great success. Thank you for all your fantastic answers to my questions.
RC: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about writing. I deeply appreciate it.
Eve: Where can your fans reach you?
RC: Pretty much everywhere!