One of our favorite YA fantasy worlds that we've discovered in the past few years is Roshani Chokshi's Star-Touched Queen series. The first two novels give us a look at two very different sisters and their own discovery that the world around may be more magical than it seems. Now Roshani is back with a short story collection set in the same fictional universe. She tells us a little bit about why she wanted to return to this world and give us few more glimpses into these characters' lives.
Your collection Star-Touched Stories is set in the same fictional universe as your previous two novels The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes. What drew you to return to this world?
I had to! I couldn’t leave those characters on such happy notes **insert evil face**
This is your first collection of short stories. What was it like to write shorter works as opposed to full-length novels? Did you find that there were particular challenges?
I think short stories demand an entirely different part of your brain. Ultimately, you are writing to a punchline with a short story, and that was hard for me because of the length of each story. They’re about 15-25k, which is novella length, and so I wanted them to feel as emotionally satisfying as possible without coming across as too abrupt.
The first story, “Death and Night” is a prequel to The Star-Touched Queen. What was it like to tell the origin story of these two characters?
Glorious. I loved writing it, and I loveeeeed playing with some of my favorite romantic tropes.
The other two stories, “Poison and Gold” and “Rose and Sword,” continue where A Crown of Wishes left off. Why did you want to keep telling these characters' stories?
I really wanted to round out the world, and show the different issues characters might face after they’ve left a realm of magic behind.
Your stories focus on women of different personalities and talents, illustrating a wide range of strong female characters. To you, what’s some of the most important things to consider when writing these women’s stories?
I think, as with any character, creating something complex means playing with nuance. When I think about these women, I think about their individual wants and their griefs. Desire isn’t an active emotion, but more like a chasm, so I need to know what that darkness and absence feels like. If I’m writing about what makes them scared, I have to know what makes them feel safe. So, when I’m writing their stories, I’m actively writing to their weaknesses to show their strengths.
The Star-Touched world possesses its own unique magical system. What inspired you to create this fictional world? Were there any mythologies that particularly inspired you?
I was really inspired by tales of Hindu mythogy and Greek myths, particularly Hades and Persephone and Cupid and Psyche.
Here at Reading Women, we’re all about books by or about women. Who are the female writers, in fantasy or otherwise, that have inspired your work?
Holly Black, Laini Taylor, Catherynne Valente, Angela Carter, my mom & grandmothers ☺
Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re working on now?
Right now I’m outlining the sequel to my next fantasy, The Gilded Wolves, and revising the sequel to my middle grade debut, Aru Shah and the End of Time!
She grew up in Georgia, where she acquired a Southern accent but does not use it unless under duress. She has a luck dragon that looks suspiciously like a Great Pyrenees dog. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Uncanny Magazine, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. She is the 2016 finalist for the Andre Norton Award, and a 2016 Locus finalist for Best First Novel. Her short story, The Star Maiden, was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.