Author Interview #3: Roshani Chokshi on The Gilded Wolves

Roshani Chokshi author photo, credit: Aman SharmaThe Gilded Wolves is a sweeping story set in a complex world filled with magic and intrigue. This historical fantasy is part mystery and all adventure as Séverin and his team work to pull off a world-changing heist and make their own way in the world. Lush settings, vibrant characters, action, and a few hints of romance blend together perfectly. I was lucky enough to read The Gilded Wolves in August before reviewing it for School Library Journal. Since then, I have been completely obsessed. I’m so excited to have Rosh here today for an interview about this new series starter.

MP: What was the inspiration for The Gilded Wolves? Where did you start with this project?

Roshani Chokshi (RC): Silly as it might sound, The Gilded Wolves inspiration came from my intense (and slightly embarrassing) love for National Treasure and Tomb Raider. As I started writing the book, it took on a life of its own! I started writing this project in early 2016. It was just a wee seedling of a story, but it quickly expanded in scope.

MP: The Gilded Wolves is set in Paris in 1889. While the presence of Babel Fragments and the Order has altered quite a few things in this world, much of your setting is still filled with historical detail. What kind of research went into creating this world? What setting details were you most excited to develop?

RC: There was a lot of research. I could wax poetic about the fascinating history of ice manufacturing for…days. And yet, all that research went into ONE SENTENCE in the story that I eventually took out!!!! WHY GODS WHY. For me, the most exciting setting details were the parties…I love parties. I love a glamorous, well-thought out party with a fabulous theme. And I like to know what’s happening in the corners of the party. You know, where all the good gossip starts ;)

MP: The Gilded Wolves follows multiple characters as Séverin works with his team to pull off a seemingly impossible heist.  Which character was the most fun to write? Who was the hardest to write? Who are you especially excited for readers to meet?

RC: Hypnos was the most fun to write, and Zofia was the hardest to write. For Hypnos, I knew who he would be, but not how he would arrive at that point. For Zofia, I respected from the beginning that her thought process as someone on the spectrum followed a different set of guidelines. I am so appreciative of the help from my sensitivity readers for helping me not only get into her head, but also represent her thought process in a way that (hopefully) resonates with similar readers. I’m most excited for readers to meet Enrique, who is the kind of character my Filipina mother has been bugging me to write for the last five years. He’s that nerdy friend who would send you articles from The Guardian/The Economist and ask you over drinks what you thought about them because omgggghistorynewswowwhatislife. Lol.

MP: In your novel some people can channel power from Babel Fragments as Forgers with abilities that range from shaping plants into wondrous arrangements to building technological devices or even controlling minds. What kind of Forger would you want to be?

RC: I would loveeee to have a Forging affinity for matter, specifically silk. Enchanted dresses?! Yes please.

MP: The Gilded Wolves is the start of a series. How did you go about plotting a story that would take place over multiple books? How much did you know about the way you wanted the series to play out when you started writing this first part of the story?

RC: To be very honest, this story changed so much in the telling. I thought it would be LIGHT. It…it is not. I thought it would be the kind of fantasy you could consume in your sleep, and it’s not. In fact, it’s treacherous DNF material for the first 30% and, frankly, that’s the way the story needed to be told. It was (is) genuinely the best I could do at the skill-level I possessed at the time I finished…that’s many conditions, but, as a writer who sincerely believes in growing with each book, I know that’s a personal best. I hope that for readers who push through those first 50 pages, that they find something worth loving.

MP: I always love when you share updates on your writing and revision process on your Instagram. In addition to already working on the second book in this series, you are also working on the second book in your middle grade series which started with Aru Shah and the End of Time. How do you balance working on two projects so close together? What does a typical writing day look like for you?

RC: Oh, I’m so glad! Usually, I worry that I’m just a rambling fiend because balancing projects is…tough. To say the least. I think the only way that I can manage it is if both books are in different stages. As in, one is in draft and the other is in revision, but they can’t be one thing at the same time or I’d go bananas. O_O For me, a typical writing day is telling my computer it won’t get the best of me, entering fierce negotiations with my cat that the keyboard is not an avant garde bed, and dithering around aimlessly until I panic from looking at the time and word vomit into Scrivener. Very glamorous, I know. My best writing is in revisions, when I wake up super early, and pretend the world (and twitterverse) is asleep…and then I tinker with sentences. I dream up plot points that will never be in the story; flashbacks I’ll never include…just to understand the fictional person I’m dealing with. And that’s when I fall back in love with an idea.

MP: Can you tell me anything about your next project? (Or your ongoing ones!)

RC: If anyone takes a glance at my Instagram or Twitter, it’s no secret that I’m toying with a Santa Claus origin story. It sounds ridiculous, I know. But beyond the humor of tackling something like that, I’m someone who suffers from really bad seasonal affective disorder. I love how in most cultures, there’s a midwinter figure, someone who inspires joy and generosity and stories…someone mythical who necessitates warmth at a time when all is dark. I think that’s why I’m interested in their origins, beyond, of course, getting to write a totally scandalous title >:)

Thanks again to Rosh for taking the time to talk with me.

You can see more about Roshani and her books on her website.

You can also read my review of The Gilded Wolves here on the blog.

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