This week JJ interviews Roshani Chokshi, author of The Star-Touched Queen, a Hades and Persephone-inspired romance infused with Indian mythology and imagery! We talk about world building, discuss settings outside of the West, and about Roshani's publication journey and where story ideas come from! Also, JJ betrays the depth of her Tolkien linguistic nerdery.
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. The Star-Touched Queen is her first novel.
Roshani starts worldbuilding with what she thinks the character needs to feel in the story. She knows the emotional arc and tries to create a setting to go with the feeling.
JJ starts worldbuilding with an image and it grows from there.
In terms of internal logic and the "rules," Roshani sits down and thinks about the ramifications of different aspects of her world.
There is a difference between rules-based fantasy and immersive fantasy (e.g. the spells in Harry Potter vs. something like Sarah J. Maas's Throne of Glass series).
Kate Elliott has a series of posts about worldbuilding and they are ALL EXCELLENT.
Make sure form serves function. If detail is not moving the story forward, then you should probably cut it back. Worldbuilding should be like an iceberg; you see the tip, but there is an ENORMOUS mass below the surface.
Also FOOD IS VERY IMPORTANT! :) Food adds cultural specificity.
Roshani's advice is know why each image is important. JJ's is always ask questions: Why? Where? How? Etc.
Steal! Steal from other stories and myths to create your own! But be careful about cultural appropriation.
What We're Reading/Books Discussed
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
The Redwall series by Brian Jacques
Deathless by Catherynne Valente
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
On Writing by Stephen King
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
The Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
What We're Working On
Roshani made Oreo cheesecake! Decorating her apartment!
The Star-Touched Queen
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.
A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-Touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.
That's all for this week! Next week we're back to our regularly scheduled podcast episodes with an INTRODUCTION TO GENRE.