Swanky Seventeener Rosalyn Eves recently chatted with Roshani Chokshi about her fantastic YA debut, THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN (St. Martin’s Press, April 26, 2016).
When seventeen-year-old Maya becomes the queen of an Otherworldly kingdom, she is forced to contend with secrets that span reincarnated lives and must delve deep into the belly of the Otherworld to save the people she loved. The Star-Touched Queen is steeped in Indian folklore and inspired by the myth of Hades and Persephone.
Roshani Chokshi writes young adult fantasy with an Asian twist. She hails from the South, but has no accent. Her first novel, THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN, comes out April 26, 2016 from St. Martin’s Press.
Rosalyn: I loved the premise so much–the Persephone story married with Indian folklore. How did you get the idea for this story? At what point in drafting/revising did you think this might be “the one”?
Roshani: I first got the idea for the story in high school when one of my English teachers asked us to re-evaluate Persephone’s character in the context of the famous Paradise Lost quote “I’d rather reign in hell than serve in heaven.” It presented a lot more agency to the Persephone character and made me think about what kind of girl would choose power, no matter how dark it was. I let myself start thinking that TSTQ might be “the one” after I received an R&R from an agent who would later become my agent 🙂
Rosalyn: You have such a richly realized world here, from Maya’s father’s court and the surrounding kingdoms, to the Night Bazaar an the underworld. How did you go about creating it? How much of the story is grounded in research, how much in your own imagination? (Incidentally, I love your myth Monday feature.)
Roshani: The creation of Maya’s world came rather easily to me. It was fun to imagine the Otherworld and human realm as stacked one upon the other, like tiers of cake. Multiple worlds populate Indian mythology, so I drew a little from each. However, other aspects (such as what Akaran looks like or how the Night Bazaar operates) are my own ideas.
Rosalyn: I’m a sucker for publishing stories. I’d love to hear yours! How long have you been writing? How did you find your agent–and your editor?
Roshani: I’ve been writing since I was…7? I used to write tiny pamphlet stories and give them to my parents haha. I found my agent through the slush pile after sending almost 200 queries and receiving LOTSSSS of rejections. We were on submission for nearly 6 months, which was harrowing. But we found Eileen (my editor) after a major revision that took a lot out of me and was a huge risk, but it certainly paid off in the end and I couldn’t be happier that TSTQ found a home with SMP!
Rosalyn: Your makeup tutorials on your website are awesome. How did you learn how to do this? What inspires the different tutorials? (Also, any tips for those of us who are fundamentally inept at makeup?)
Roshani: Thank you! I learned by trial and error, with myself as the unfortunate guinea pig in all this. Each of the makeup tutorials was inspired by different mythological beings in the book, and I loved the idea of exploring them through personal transformations. ANYONE can become fabulously great at makeup. For tips, I’d start with YouTube! Go to Ulta, get a great set of brushes and conquer makeup with little things…try doing your own smokey eye. And don’t hold the brush like a weapon.
Omg love this question. Gotta go with Dr. Hannibal Lecter. So polite. So vicious.
Favorite character/creature from Indian mythology?
Naginis (serpent people)
Plotter or pantser?
Favorite Broadway musical?
Someplace you’ve never been but want to visit–and why?
Transylvania. I love vampire myths and I’d really love to see the place that inspired Dracula!
A book you never get tired of reading?
Juliette Marillier’s WILDWOOD DANCING
Oddest job you’ve ever had?
Cashier at McDonald’s summer before college. My boyfriend visited me when I worked there and paid for his order in pennies. I got in trouble leaning over the counter to throttle him.
Rosalyn Eves grew up in the Rocky Mountains, dividing her time between reading books and bossing her siblings into performing her dramatic scripts. As an adult, the telling and reading of stories is still one of her favorite things to do. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys spending time with her chemistry professor husband and three children, watching British period pieces, or hiking through the splendid landscape of southern Utah, where she lives. She dislikes housework on principle.
Her first novel, THE BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, first in a YA historical fantasy trilogy, debuts Spring 2017 from Knopf/Random House.
Unable to use magic in a Victorian world governed by it, sixteen-year-old Anna will do anything to belong. But when exiled to Hungary for spell-breaking, Anna must choose: deny her unique ability for high society life–or embrace it, spark a revolution, and change the face of magic itself.