Monday, April 11, 2011

Interview: Sarwat Chadda

An interview with Sarwat Chadda, author of Devil's Kiss and Dark Goddess.  The first book in his next series, Ash Mistry and the Savage Palace, will be released sometime in spring 2012.

"I am the author of DEVIL's KISS and DARK GODDESS, two novels about the only girl squire in the Knight's Templar. If you like your romance tragic and bloody, and your fairy tales dark and filled with howling wolves, you've come to the right place."

What have you found most difficult about the writing process?  Was it all the editing that you had to do before Billi’s story got published?

Making sure it all progresses logically. That’s the challenge of writing a convincing character. We need to believe in them and in what they do. It has to matter to us but we can’t have them doing whatever we like. Each character must to true to him or herself.

One big challenge was Billi’s coldness in Dark Goddess. She was fairly tough in Devil’s Kiss and only got tougher in DG. It was difficult writing a character who is pretty brutal, but still trying to keep some sympathy with her.

Was there a character that you enjoyed writing more than the others?

Arthur and Elaine. After Billi they’re my two favourites. Elaine is a no-BS personality and Arthur’s the most complex, trapped between his parental duties and training Billi.

I read that Billi may not have a book 3 – that it depended on how well she sold.  Do you have any updates on that front?  Should we expect more stories about Billi anytime soon or is she going to be on the back burner for a while?  (I also saw that book 3 would have Billi in Jerusalem with a tangle of other Middle-Eastern inspired mythology elements.  I personally love folklore from around there; can you share some of what might be featured or is that not allowed?  And who are the Assassins?)
No plans for Billi #3 unless sales improve, which is a harsh truth in today’s publishing world. I like to think she’s having a break after saving the world. That said, there is interest in Billi in different media, so she might pop up elsewhere, which would be no bad thing!
The Assassins were a religious sect, similar to the Templars in many ways. The Templars and Assassins had an understanding. That’s something I want to explore if there’s a book 3.
One of the things I found most intriguing about Billi’s story was the amount of detail put into the world building so naturally I'd be looking forward to that in Ash Mistry.  What sort of research are you doing for your new series?
Ash Mistry was a whole new level of research. That’s why it took eighteen months to write. It’s set in India and deals with the history, archaeology and myths of that country. It’s a big story. There was a lot of reading and a trip out there to check the locations. More trips are planned as the series climaxes in Tibet. It will be insane.
It’s set in the same world as Billi so there are subtle overlaps. It’s also likely characters in Billi’s books will appear in Ash’s. That’ll be fun.

Since we’re talking about your research… wow.  With each book comes a new kickass weapon.  Glock 19s and wakizashis and so much more!  Did that come with the research on Templars or was that inspired by something different?
Billi and the Templars are warriors so the detail needed to be authentic. It’s what they would be experts in so I did a lot of research to get that right. A friend of mine was a Marine sniper, he helped a lot.

What came first for you?  Billi as a character, the fantasy world you wanted to create, or something else entirely?
Billi. I knew I wanted to write about a father daughter relationship, since I have daughters myself. I liked the idea of turning the ‘son following in his father’s footsteps’ cliché’ on its head.
I read that you also enjoy writing comic books.  Would you ever try to get one released or draw a companion book for Billi’s story?  I could imagine a comic and a movie for Billi.
I write cinematically, so there’s an aspect of running the movie in my head as I write. There’s been talk about Billi going up on the screen, but nothing definite yet. Who knows?
As for comic books, Ash Mistry was a comic I drew back in 2000. The artwork is gathering dust but some of it may appear in the books, I’m not quite sure yet.

Recently you went on tour with Rachel Hawkins to promote Dark Goddess.  Did you have a favorite place that you visited?
Oh, right, like I’m going to answer that! What I will say the second tour was sooo much more fun that the first. I was very lucky to travel around with Rachel, we had great fun where-ever we went and it was nice going back to visit places I’d been the first time around. I’ve a soft spot for Murder by the Book in Houston. It was the first ever bookstore event I did and it was cool to be back there and see some of the same faces in the crowd. A big HELLO to Pat.
Do you ever find that being an author is exhausting?  The writing, editing, even the social networking of it all?  I’ve just been wondering to myself how authors manage it all.

I think there’s only so much social networking you can do when your job is so fundamentally dull. The tour was exhausting but adrenaline kept me going, that and lots of pecan pie. Mind you, I did crash for two weeks afterwards to recover.

The writing is never, ever exhausting. I get a huge thrill doing it and it’s a great break from the hurly-burly of all the other stuff and, in the end, all that really matters.

And my last question just for fun… Buffy or Christian Bale? Thank you so much!  I hope you're having a fantastic day & that your writing with Ash Mistry is coming along well!

Like that’s even a question! CHRISTIAN BALE ROCKS! I was in Hollywood during the Oscars. I like to think my positive vibes helped tip the balance and get him the award. Any time, Christian, any time.

To all of you guys, I really hope you at least check out Billi's story.  Let's get a Billi Book Three going!

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