Blog Tour: The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (Review and Interview!)

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Star Touched Queen

Author: Roshani Chokshi
Pages: 352 
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: April 26th 2016
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. 

---

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts are not altered by that.

I knew The Star Touched Queen was going to be an interesting book from when I read the synopsis. There is just so much from the synopsis that leaves you asking questions about this book and wanting to find out more about it. More about Maya's curse, more about Akaran, and Maya's life in general. The Star Touched Queen delivered such a great story. It had a really interesting plot and a world that I would definitely not mind having a spin off take place in. (Update: Turns out Roshani will be having a spin off of The Star Touched Queen. Whoo!) Roshani had really great writing and I really enjoyed the characters she wrote about. If you're looking for a really suspenseful and mysterious novel with based on a really interesting Indian folktale, I would definitely hand you The Star Touched Queen.

So, you can obviously tell I loved this book. One of the reasons was because of how great and interesting the characters were. From the beginning, we already know Maya is cursed with a horrible horoscope, which is taken really seriously by the people in Maya's life. She really grows within this book, which is one of the highlights. She gets to know herself more and also gets to experience what it is like to not live in her palace walls. I really love how she doesn't take crap from anyone. All her life people have been putting her down because of her horoscope and that leads to her development of relying on herself to get through tough situations. She is so independent and I really love that about her. There are so many other characters introduced in this book and they were all so interesting and all I loved how different from each other they were. No character was every similar to the next one. Interesting characters for an interesting book, am I right? I also really loved reading about how they impacted the plot and Maya's life.

Now, here is my favorite part about this book. The plot. Going into this book, I didn't know much on what was going to happen. I only had so many questions that needed to be answered. As the book progresses, it get's more and more mysterious. That really added more suspense and made the book really hard to put down. That's really all I could say. Some books I could write paragraphs on how good it was but with Star Touched, there isn't much to say because it's very easy to describe. Basically, the more pages you read in, the more questions you have and the more the suspense will build up.

I gave this book 5 stars because I fully enjoyed it. It had awesome characters, a great world, and a really suspenseful plot.

---

1. What/Who were your biggest inspirations for the characters in The Star-Touched Queen? Which 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. 

2. 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. 

3. 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.  

4. 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.

5. 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.” 

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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. 

10. Since The Star Touched Queen is based on an Indian folktale, what is one Indian folktale you would love to put yourself in and why?
If there was one folktale, I think perhaps I’d like to play the role of Uloopi. She was a naga princess (a race of serpent people) who played an important role in the epic poem, the Mahabharata. Unlike some female characters in Indian epics, she wasn’t a jealous figure. She celebrated female friendships, wielded vast amounts of power, resurrected one of the most important figures in the entire play and lived with love.

11. If you were to give your favorite fictional boyfriend a horoscope, who would it be and what would their horoscope be? 
OK WELL. I have a harem of fictional book boyfriends, but in the interest of timeliness and the state of my heart, I’m going with RICHARD GANSEY III and I’m going to try and game the whole system. His horoscope would be: “HE IS NOT GOING TO DIE. OR IF HE IS, IT’S GOING TO BE A HARRY POTTER LOOP. EVERYONE CALM DOWN.” 

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

---

Roshani Chokshi

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.