YA Author Roshani Choksi on Wanting All the Things!

October 20, 2015 Features & Spotlights, Guest Post 2

Hi everyone, I’m super honoured to feature Roshani Choski today. Her debut novel, THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN, sounds amazing and is releasing next year but hopefully this post will help you get to know her more before the book comes out. I hope you all enjoy this post and don’t forget to add the novel on GoodReads!

About the Author/The Book

Inline image 1Roshani Chokshi grew up in the South where she acquired a Southern twang that she doesn’t use unless under duress. She writes fantasy and is often inspired by her Filipino and Indian heritage. Her debut YA fantasy is a reimagining of the Hades and Persephone myth with Indian mythology. THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN, will be released from MacMillan/St. Martin’s Griffin on May 3, 2016.
Twitter: @NotRashKnee
Instagram: @roshanichokshi

 On Wanting All The Things: A Guest Post

Sometimes, I’m asked whether being an Asian person makes writing Asian fantasy my definitive/all-encompassing “thing.” This raises a number of questions on my end. Most importantly: THING? WHAT THING? IS IT ON ME RIGHT NOW? GET IT OFF!

That’s the thing hiccup about writing diverse stories as a POC. Sometimes, it becomes a brand stamped on our words, a road neatly paving our futures. I don’t think that’s fair. When you deny someone the right to claim multiple voices, you devalue the power of their words in different settings. What ends up happening is that one pool of our imagination — our families, our loved ones, our lullabies in strange tongues, our food and our jokes — becomes a shackle.

We become inseparable from our ethnicity. And that can spiral into the very strange waters of being upheld as a voice of authenticity for that culture. One marginalized voice doesn’t speak for all. I would be mortified if someone held up my work as the definitive authority on how to write Indian or Filipino inspired stories. That is not my place, and it shouldn’t be. If stories are jewels, then its authors are facets. We don’t breathe at the same time and move with the same lilt (Although how crazy fun would that be at a Halloween party?! We’d never miss a synchronized dance to “Thriller!!”) and we aren’t all telling the same tale.

For me, the person I’m trying to be authentic to is myself.

That said, I really hope my stories provide insights into new cultures. I hope they inspire people to seek out other diverse authors and viewpoints. But I hope no one would assume that my voice embodies the experiences of thousands of other people who claim a similar heritage. That would be a disservice to them and me.

It’s kinda like if this were to happen:

Imagine you spill food on your outfit during a dinner party and you have to wear your aunt’s dress. The dress is really nice. Your mom tells you it’s an honor. You set your teeth and grin, and hope it doesn’t look like you’re snarling. You put it on but it….smells wrong? Soap where there should be your old-sweatshirt-funk, lavender where there should be your conditioner. Honestly, it fits okay. It hugs your skin, makes you look tall and imposing. Heck, you may even look good.

But it’s not yours.

And you have this unsettling longing all throughout dinner for the moment when you can just shrug it off, go home, and watch Netflix.

The truth is, I don’t want my aunt’s dress! (even though all of my aunts are sartorial divas and deserve all the praise hand emojis). And I reject possessing *a* THING because it’s not enough. I’m greedy. If I chose just one thing to inspire me, my stories would be horrifically boring. And if people only elected to choose or listen to one voice, those stories would be horrifically unrepresentative.

Each story is a jewel. If we push ourselves towards more inclusivity, all we risk is creating more treasure.

What did you think of Roshani’s post? Are you as excited as I am for THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN? Let’s discuss in the comments!

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