Published by St. Martin's Griffin on 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.
Interested in the book? Make sure to read our Book Discussion at We Heart YA and The Reading Date’s “Hear Ye! Hear Ye! The Star-Touched Queen Audiobook.”
2. What was your inspiration for writing IN REAL LIFE? My heritage was a huge inspiration. I grew up in a mixed race home (Indian and Filipino) and my siblings and I connected with our heritage through world mythology and fairytales because we didn’t share our parents’ native languages. The more I read, the more I saw how these stories were the same. We see the same archetype and journey story replayed and retold across every cultural spectrum. With The Star-Touched Queen, I wanted to tell something familiar and unfamiliar.
3. What kind of research did you have to do to make sure your characters were authentic? Not much. I think Maya’s (and the other characters’) authenticity stems from her emotional character, not so much the culture in which she’s steeped in. Like many other young adult heroines, Maya is interacting with a set of constructs. She is figuring herself out in the gaps of things she cannot change.
4. How did you come to incorporate the diverse elements in your book? I didn’t consciously tie in diverse elements. I wanted to tell a story that was familiar to me, but perhaps new to others. I decided to work with Hindu mythology because I felt that certain Hindu folklore embodied archetypes/quest stories that Western readers would understand. I drew on aspects of reincarnation from the Shiva and Parvati myth, the idea of memory as a physical object from the Shakuntula tale, the intersection of fate and interpretation from the myth of Narasimha, and the interaction of Death and the maiden from the tale of Savitri and Satyavan.
5. How does the diversity in your book relate to your life? My father is Indian, so this story is closely tied to bits and pieces of my childhood. My book relates to my life because it is a symbol that these journey stories and tales of first love and finding yourself do not belong to any group of people. They are universal experiences for a reason.
6. What are some of your favorite YA books about diverse characters? Renee Ahdieh’s THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, Sabaa Tahir’s AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, Lloyd Alexander’s THE IRON RING, Sarah McCarry’s DIRTY WINGS, Anna-Marie McLemore’s THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, Holly Black’s TITHE.
7. What areas of diversity do you want to draw attention to or do you feel are underrepresented in books? I’d like to see more tales of incidental diversity. I’d like to see tales where diversity is not an issue, but just another frame of perspective for the character. We are more than tales of cross-cultural and generational angst.
Stay tuned in June when we feature an anniversary giveaway of our favorite diverse books!
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