Roshani Chokshi’s debut, THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN, released last year to widespread acclaim. The companion novel, A CROWN OF WISHES, releases on March 28. We were beyond thrilled to get the chance to ask the lovely Roshani a few questions…
1. What was your process brainstorming the second book in the series? How did it differ from the first book?
With THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN, I had the chance to mull the story for months. I toyed with sentences. Ideas. Pinterest boards. With A CROWN OF WISHES, I had to move quick, and it was like plunging into the strange world of “trusting one’s gut.” I had to trust the characters. I had to trust my vision for the book to guide me out of the creepy-crawly-darkness of drafting land. I think it made me a much more efficient writer. I love revising. But I couldn’t get to that point without having something on the page.
2. Did you always plan on giving Gauri her own book? If not, how did you go about fleshing out a side character from THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN to use as a main character in A CROWN OF WISHES? Why did you choose Gauri?
Not always. When I first envisionedTHE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN, it was wholeheartedly a standalone. But as I worked on revisions, Gauri refused to stay a secondary character. She wanted things so acutely that I had to give her an open ending in THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN so that I could revisit her story.
3. Why did you decide to go with a companion novel instead of a direct sequel?
Mostly because I didn’t think there was more to say about Amar and Maya. They fought for, spoiler, lifetimes for their happy ending. They would’ve done way more than bare their teeth at me if I tried to squish that into something else.
4. You were inspired by the Hades and Persephone myth when writing THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN—does A CROWN OF WISHES also draw on mythology? Do you have any tips for writing retellings?
A CROWN OF WISHES is loosely inspired by the stories of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. In terms of tips for writing retellings, I think writers should trust their gut. What is the emotional kernel about that particular fairytale that sparks your imagination? How can you subvert it or push it farther? I’d advise writers not to take shortcuts, and not to rely on the fairytale construction to spare them from doing any character work.
5. What’s the most valuable lesson you learned from your debut?
Eyes on your own paper. It’s as true in elementary school as it is in real life. Focus on your craft, and trust that everything else will follow. Publishing, as my agent so often reminds me, is a marathon. Not a sprint.
6. Your followers know you decided to quit law school to pursue writing—what was the final straw that made you make this decision?
I wouldn’t call it a final straw, per se. Truthfully, I loved law school. And I don’t think that you have to quit your day job or quit graduate school to make yourself more legitimate as a writer. It was just that, in my circumstances, I felt it was the right call for me to make. Ultimately, I quit law school the moment I felt that I could financially support myself. I was lucky and privileged in many ways to be able to move back home as I wrote and save up money even when I worked full-time. I was also able to attend graduate school in-state, which is significantly more affordable. All those factors combined led me to make that decision.
7. How is your hair always so beautiful?
LOL. Reader tears = best conditioner.