The Star Touched Queen blog tour (excerpt)

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LESSONS IN SILENCE

 

The archives were cut like honeycombs and golden light clung to them, dousing every tome, painting, treatise and poem the soft gold of ghee freshly skimmed from boilingThe Star-Touched Queen High Res

butter. I was only allowed to visit once a week—to meet with my weekly tutor before I inevitably scared him away. Every time I left the archival room, my arms brimmed with parchment paper. I loved the feeling of discovery, of not knowing how much I wanted something until I had discovered its absence.

The week before, I had lost myself in the folktales of Bharata. Stories of elephants who spun clouds, shaking tremors loose from ancient trunks gnarled with the rime of

 lost cyclones, whirlwinds and thunderstorms. Myths of frank-eyed naga women twisting ser- pentine, flashing smiles full of uncut gemstones. Legends of a world beneath, above, beside the one I knewwhere trees boredible gems and no one would think twice about a girl with dark skin and a darker horoscope. I wanted it to be real so badly that sometimes I thought I could see the Otherworld. Sometimes, if I closed my eyes and pressed my toes into the ground, I could almost sense them sinking into the loam of some other land, a dream demesne where the sky cleaved in two and the earth was sutured with a magic that could heal hearts, mend bones, change lives.

It was a dream I didnt want to part with, but I had to settle for what magic I could create on my own. I could read more. Learn more. Make new dreams. But the best part wasnt hoarding those wishes to myself. It was sharing everything I learned with Gauri, my halfsister. She was the only one I couldnt scare away . . . the only one I didnt want to.

Thinking of Gauri always made me smile. But as soon as I caught sight of my tutor of the week, the smile disappeared. He stood between two pillars of the archive section marking the kingdoms history. Beyond the sheer number of things to read in the archive room, what I loved most was its ceiling. It was empty, wide enough to crawl through and conveniently linked to my fathers inner sanctum.

The tutor, as luck would have it, stood directly below my hiding spot.

What/Who were your biggest inspirations for the characters in The Star-Touched Queen? Roshani Chokshi CREDIT Aman SharmaWhich character in The Star-Touched Queen did you personally relate to the most and why? For Maya and Amar, they were inspired by the Hades/Persephone. But I imagined those two mythological characters a little more differently. In Maya’s case, I knew that ambition was her defining trait, but I wasn’t sure whether that would manifest as seeking emotional or material fulfillment. Turns out, it was a bit of both. Kamala was inspired by my love of fiendish side characters like Mogget from Garth Nix’s SABRIEL and is probably the character I relate to the most. Her sense of humor can be a little abrasive. But she’s fiercely loyal to her friends. Other people in TSTQ were inspired by a collection of people whom I met/knew/heard of growing up.

Have you always been drawn to Mythology and what are some of your favorite mythological tales? What myth specifically inspired Star-Touched? Always! I was raised on mythology. It was one of the most important outlets for me to connect to my Filipino/Indian heritage. My favorite Indian myths are Shakuntula, Nala and Damayanti, and Savitri. My favorite Filipino story is the Igorot tale of the Sky Maiden. My favorite Western myth is Hades and Persephone. TSTQ was specifically inspired by Hades & Persephone.

Let’s talk inspiration. What Indian folklore inspired The Star-Touched Queen and where could someone who might be interested in reading and learning more about it and other Indian stories (cough, me, cough) learn more? The main Indian folktales/myths that inspired TSTQ or particular scenes were: Shakuntula (plays on the idea of memory and forgotten loves), Savitri & Satyavan (bargaining with Lord of Death, wily females!) and Narasimha (the fourth avatar of Lord Vishnu who defeated the demon king Hirayankashipu). Honestly, most of these were stories I heard growing up with my family. But my favorite thing to read when I was younger were the Amar Chitra Katha comics! They’re these illustrated tales from Indian mythology and I love them so so so much.

What scene in THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN was your favorite to write? Definitely the scene where Amar and Maya are working together in the constellation room. I think it’s an important scene about interpretation, which, to me, is a major theme in TSTQ.

Did you listen to any music while writing this book? If yes, what would you say was your MOST played artist or song? Sometimes I listen to music when I write. It just depends on whether the song is distracting me or fueling some weird atmospheric part of the scene. Sometimes it’s just one song on repeat. I listen to a lot of hip hop. And when I pretty much rewrote TSTQ in February 2015, I felt furious. Not with anyone. But just with the story. Like it was itching to be told right and I was failing it. I think the songs I listened to the most with TSTQ was either Kid Ink’s “Show Me” or Kendrick Lamar’s “Poetic Justice.”

What is your dream movie cast for STAR-TOUCHED? LOVE this question. I’ve always envisioned Lakshmi Menon (the Sri Lankan model) as Maya-esque. Amar has some definite Arjun Rampal undertones (swoons forever). Gupta is kinda cheeky and nerdy, and reminds me of Imran Khan (actor not Pakistani cricket player). Gauri is cheeky, but fierce, so definitely Preity Zinta or Deepika Padukone. Nritti: Aishwarya Rai. And Mother Dhina: Rekha.

What is the most exciting part about publishing your first novel? Interacting with readers. Talking to the YA community gives me so much life.

How did you build your world and keep everything straight for STAR-TOUCHED? Flashcards, charts, webs, etc. I know everyone has their own tricks! Flashcards, backs of receipts, corners of napkins. Which is to say, I did not keep things straight at all. This is why you have beta readers. To throw virtual tomatoes at you and point out that given the rules of your world, you cannot do the thing you just did.

What is your next project? Is it in the same world as STAR-TOUCHED?

I just finished the companion novel to TSTQ! So, I’m hoping to get started on edits soon. I can’t wait for y’all to read it. I love it so much.

What is the one thing you want readers to walk away from STAR-TOUCHED with?

I hope readers see a little of how fairytales and folklore celebrate our shared experiences across cultural spectrums. And I hope their dreams are a little star-touched and that they close the book thinking they’ve tasted fairy fruit and walked through more than one life.

Author Roshani Chokshi pairs beautiful writing with a thrilling pace and compulsive plot, using her own Filipino and Indian heritage to create a culturally diverse and vividly imagined world. 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. From an incredibly fresh voice, Roshani Chokski’s THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN is a beautifully written standalone novel that will enchant young adult and fantasy readers until the last page. About the Author ROSHANI CHOKSHI comes from a small town in Georgia where she collected a Southern accent, but does not use it unless under duress. She grew up in a blue house with a perpetually napping bear-dog. At Emory University, she dabbled with journalism, attended some classes in pajamas, forgot to buy winter boots and majored in 14th century British literature. She spent a year after graduation working and traveling and writing. After that, she started law school at the University of Georgia where she’s learning a new kind of storytelling. More information on the author can be found at http://www.roshanichokshi.com. THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN: A Novel By Roshani Chokshi Published by St. Martin’s Griffin **Publication Day: April 26, 2016** Hardcover | $18.99 ISBN: 9781250085474| Ebook ISBN: 9781250085481 For more information or to set up an interview with the author, contact: Brittani Hilles at brittani.hilles@stmartins.com or 646-307-558 PRAISE FOR THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN BY ROSHANI CHOKSHI Listed as one of 2016’s Most Anticipated Novels by: Barnes & Noble Teen Blog We Need Diverse Books Paste Magazine Goodreads Buzzfeed Popsugar BookRiot Parade “A setting drawn from ancient India, romance with feminist sensibilities, and a unique magic system reminiscent of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone make this a novel sure to appeal to fans of Renée Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn. A stunning debut filled with lush writing, smart characters, and a mysterious plot that provides as many twists as it does swoons.” —School Library Journal, STARRED Review “Chokshi’s rich, descriptive writing weaves a lush web…a swoony romance, betrayal, and a journey to power and self-affirmation, with a slightly wicked, slightly funny animal sidekick in the best tradition (think Garth Nix’s Mogget as a crimson-eyed horse), work together to create a spell that many readers will willingly succumb to. Richly imagined, deeply mythic, filled with lovely language with violet overtones: this is an author to watch.” —Kirkus Reviews “This gorgeous debut promises big things to come from Chokshi, who at barely 25 has decades ahead to dazzle us.” — Cosmopolitan.com on “8 Life-Changing Novels by Twentysomething Women” “Chokshi’s first novel is filled to the brim with gorgeous, scintillating writing that easily draws readers into its new take on traditional tales. A unique fantasy that is epic myth and beautiful fairy tale combined.” —Booklist “A heady blend of mythology and metaphor, THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN is sure to appeal to fans of Laini Taylor and Leigh Bardugo. Maya is a great character, full of promise and patience, even as the odds are stacked against her.” —Romantic Times Book Reviews “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, New York Times bestselling author of The Throne of Glass series “A richly detailed world and a story filled with twists and turns, The Star-Touched Queen had me breathless right up until the final, stunning conclusion. It is a bewitching tale with a setting so vivid and unique, I wished I could step right through the pages.” —Amy Ewing, New York Times bestselling author of The Jewel “Gorgeously poetic writing gives vibrant, sensuous life to the worlds of The Star-Touched Queen. Chokshi never shies away from forcing her characters to make hard choices, and I was captivated by Princess Maya’s cleverness and determination as she struggles against fate and betrayal.” —Kate Elliot, New York Times bestselling author of the Court of Five series “A luscious, bloodthirsty fairy tale with all the romance, magic, and gorgeous mythology I could ask for, plus the greatest flesheating, talking demon horse I never knew I wanted.” —Tessa Gratton, author of The United States of Asgard series “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

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