Chat With an Author

Roshani Chokshi: on Writing Aru Shah and the End of Time

Welcome all! Today we are delighted to welcome Roshani Chokshi back to The Book Smugglers to talk about her experience writing her new Middle Grade novel Aru Shah and the End of Time . Aru Shah and the End of Time is the first book in the hilarious, action-packed Pandava quartet based on Hindu mythology and coming out from the Disney-Hyperion new imprint Rick Riordan Presents on March 27.

Without further ado, please give it up to Roshani!

I’m not that great about putting myself into my main characters. In my debut, The Star-Touched Queen, my most autobiographical character was the flesh eating demon horse. In my second novel, A Crown of Wishes, I put my humor and general lamentations about the nature of quests in … a … talking … corpse … character. As I read this, I dearly hope that doesn’t say something about me.

With Aru, it was different. Writing middle grade was neither easier nor harder, but it demanded different parts of myself. In this case, Aru demanded my experience as a seventh grader. WHICH WAS TORTUOUS. Seventh grade was the year I gave myself bangs (ugh), used Nair for the first time and left it on too long (hello chemical Groucho Marx moustache burns), got dumped over AIM (NO!) and also laughed so hard and so often that my face constantly hurt and I’m pretty I sprained my ribs at lunch every day. I don’t think we’re capable of shrugging off who we were in middle school. What frightened us. What we obsessed over. Writing Aru required tapping into an amused and constantly panicked part of myself.

Obviously, I couldn’t just throw all that angst on the page and call it a book. I had to build Aru’s world around her character, and that wasn’t something I sought out to do with my first two books. My first two books started world first, and I loved writing them. I loved the atmosphere and walking alongside the character as they discovered the labyrinths I built for them.

With Aru, I knew who she was before I even figured out the plot. That was very new for me. I had to write from the perspective: “Okaaaay…so…what do you wanna do now? Where do you wanna go?” Which is a dangerous thing to ask your seventh grade self because they will inevitably land you into trouble, make enemies, get derailed by pangs of hunger, and, ultimately, drag you to hell if they can. Which is exactly what Aru did. I loved it. It was joyous and hard and uncomfortable.

I think all of my books have some degree of wish fulfilment. Um, hello, please make me an Underworld queen a la Persephone? (Star-Touched Queen). Oooooh I wanna go on a quest and banter! (A Crown of Wishes). And . . . JEEZ CAN I HAVE A REDO OF MIDDLE SCHOOL. (Aru). For Aru, seventh grade will be the worst. She will inevitably try to shave down her eyebrows and end up eyebrow-less. (Like me). She’ll have friends who will support her and grow with her along the way. (Like me).

And she’ll have a lightning bolt.

And powers.

(Not like me at all, but hey, that’s what stories are for).

About Aru Shah and the End of Time

ARU SHAH AND THE END OF TIME by New York Times bestselling author Roshani Chokshi follows twelve-year-old Aru Shah, who sets a cosmic showdown in motion when she lights an ancient lamp on a dare. This is the inaugural title in the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, which is dedicated to providing entertaining middle grade fiction based on various world mythologies.

Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations, she’ll be spending her break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip.

One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.

She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them. The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?

About the author:

ROSHANI CHOKSHI is the author of the instant New York Times bestselling novel, The Star-Touched Queen, and its companion, A Crown of Wishes. She studied fairy tales in college, and she has a pet luck dragon that looks suspiciously like a Great Pyrenees dog. Aru Shah and the End of Time, her middle grade debut, was inspired by the stories her grandmother told her as well as Roshani’s all-consuming love for Sailor Moon. She lives in Georgia and says “y’all,” but she doesn’t really have a Southern accent. Follow her online at roshanichokshi.com and on Twitter at @roshani_chokshi.

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