Roshani Chokshi is a New York Times bestselling author who grew up in Georgia, USA. Her writing has been featured in Strange Horizons, Uncanny Magazine, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. In 2016, Roshani Chokshi was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award, and a 2016 Locus finalist for Best First Novel. Her short story, The Star Maiden, was long-listed for the British Fantasy Science Award. This year, Roshani Chokshi released her latest book, The Star-Touched Queen, to a range of extremely positive reviews. Her young adult fiction is being devoured by an ever growing fan base, and she has more books coming out in the next year or so. Specifically, her middle grade debut, Aru Shah and The End of Time, will come out on April 3, 2018. Please enjoy my interview with the brilliant Roshani Chokshi…
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
My first answer is usually “sorcery.” The number of lives I feel that I live by writing, and the places where I travel (both real and imagined) without ever leaving my chair, certainly feels like magic.
I’m a huge fan of regency romance, so right now I’m reading Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean. MacLean’s writing always borders on the mythic, and she renders emotion so well. I often tell aspiring writers struggling with character development to learn from the romance genre.
What’s your earliest memory of reading?
My parents reading me the unabridged Hans Christian Andersen’s Complete Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen. For better or for worse.
If you could encourage young people to read one book in particular, what would it be?
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It’s a masterpiece.
Can you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I wrote a story about a lily that was watered by her own tears . . . very goth.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
I worked as a legal secretary. It was also the best job I ever had because that was where I wrote what would become The Star-Touched Queen.
What two pieces of advice would you give a young aspiring writer?
You are not a gallon of milk. You have no expiration date for success.
Do you read as much as you’d like to?
What books do you feel are important reading for people on your career path?
No specific book, just reading in general. Read the things that make you itch to write, even if it means rereading them over and over.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik. I was entranced, and still am, by the old age fairy tale feel of it.
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
The book I’ve recommended most is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
Who would you say are the three writers that continue to inspire you?
Holly Black, Leigh Bardugo and Laini Taylor
What’s your favourite genre of book?
My favourite genre is fantasy.
What do you think a world without books would be like?
The cynic in me wants to say flat. But the optimist in me says that we would always find ways to tell stories, so it would probably be just as lovely and complicated.
Is there an author whose writing you’re such a fan of, that you’ll read everything they release?
Catherynne Valente. Valente’s writing has texture. It is an example where the word choices are as charged and significant as the plot and character itself, where the prose reigns supreme. That certainly inspired me with The Star-Touched Queen and inspired me to a lesser degree with A Crown of Wishes where the prose was more in service of the story itself.
Do you think digital books will ever completely replace real books?
No, but if that happens, I don’t think it would steal the magic of reading.
What book do you feel humanity needs most right now?
The Mahabharata, which is more of an epic poem. It’s representative of part of my culture as the daughter of an Indian immigrant. Beyond that, I loved how the heroes of the Mahabharata are demigods in their own right. It later inspired me to write what would become Aru Shah and the End of Time, which releases on April 3, 2018.
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?
GOTCHYA! The Roshani Chokshi Story.