EXCERPT: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

We are thrilled today to be able to share an excerpt of A CROWN OF WISHES by Roshani Chokshi with you!


Roshani Chokshi proved herself an author to watch with her young adult fantasy debut last spring, The Star-Touched Queen. Debuting at #4 on the New York Times bestseller list, the novel received rave reviews from fans and critics alike and appeared on the most buzzed about lists of 2016. Chokshi once again writes a beautifully crafted story of adventure, love, and magic set in the Star-Touched world with her sophomore novel A CROWN OF WISHES (St. Martin’s Griffin; 3/28/17). Building on her intricate setting based on ancient India and Greek mythology, her follow-up is a novel spun from enchantment with a strong female heroine and a swoony worthy prince who team up to win back the thrones of their kingdoms.

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes – a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels. Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

If that sounds like a book you want to read, click here to check out the excerpt!


Roshani Chokshi is the New York Times bestselling author of THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. Her short story, “The Star Maiden,” was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.

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When the Moon Was Ours EXCERPT

Today we are excited to be able to share an excerpt from WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS by Anna-Marie McLemore, which is out today! The book has received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and the School Library Journal, and Audrey will be reviewing it on October 14th. There’s a link to the excerpt below, so check it out!

moonAnna-Marie McLemore’s debut novel The Weight of Feathers was heavily praised by critics, received a YALSA Morris Award nomination, and was a book club pick for Las Comadres & Friends National Latino Book Club. Her sophomore young adult novel, WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS (Thomas Dunne Books; October 4, 2016), a love story tinged with magical realism and filled with gorgeous prose, has already garnered three starred trade reviews praising the novel as “lovely, necessary, and true” (Booklist). McLemore’s newest novel grapples with tough questions of identity and cultural differences in a small town. Within the pages lies a story of a girl hiding the truth, a boy with secrets from his past, and four sisters who could ruin them both.

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

Embedded in the love story, Sam faces how to claim his identity as a transgender boy, and Miel and Sam struggle with how to define their love, both to themselves and their community. McLemore tackles this relevant issue thoughtfully, coming from her own experience in her relationship with her husband, who is transgender. McLemore’s recently told Publisher’s Weekly, “at the heart of this book is my belief that transgender characters, queer characters, characters of color, deserve fairy tales”, and WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS conquers timely topics like race and gender while delivering an unforgettable, timeless love story.

Filled with roses, glass pumpkins, and magical moons, WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS will sweep you away with its fairy tale feel.   Following her fantastic debut novel, WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS will thrill readers of McLemore’s debut novel and establish a whole new group of admirers for this immensely talented young writer.

CLICK HERE to read an excerpt of the book!

anna-marie-mclemore-credit-j-elliottAbout the Author

ANNA-MARIE MCLEMORE was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and grew up in a Mexican-American family. She attended University of Southern California on a Trustee Scholarship. A Lambda Literary Fellow, she has had work featured by the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, CRATE Literary Magazine’s cratelit, Camera Obscura’s Bridge the Gap Series, and The Portland Review.

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Guest Post: David Wright

Everyone, please welcome David Wright to Rich in Color! David is the co-author of Away Running with Luc Bouchard, and David was kind enough to talk about his new book from Orca Book Publishers:

Away RunningMatt, a white quarterback from Montreal, Quebec, flies to France (without his parents’ permission) to play football and escape family pressure. Freeman, a black football player from San Antonio, Texas, is in Paris on a school trip when he hears about a team playing American football in a rough, low-income suburb called Villeneuve-La-Grande. Matt and Free join the Diables Rouges and make friends with the other players, who come from many different ethnic groups. Racial tension erupts into riots in Villeneuve when some of their Muslim teammates get in trouble with the police, and Matt and Free have to decide whether to get involved and face the very real risk of arrest and violence.

You can learn more about the 2005 Paris riots that are the basis for Away Running on the book’s website, as well as read an interview with the authors, view a teacher’s guide for the book, and read a sample chapter. We’re giving away a copy of the book to six lucky people from the USA or Canada, so be sure to read David’s wonderful essay before entering at the end of the page!


“How do you teach tolerance in an age of fear?”

That’s what my editor at Orca suggested I consider when I asked her what I might write about for this blog post. And thinking about the question immediately got me thinking about my time playing semi-pro American football during my twenties in La Courneuve, outside Paris.

More than the Keystone Kops antics of American football in Europe in the eighties and nineties, La Courneuve, my team’s home base, was completely unexpected for me. Suburbs in France work the opposite of those in the US. Buildings inside Paris are centuries old and incredibly valuable, so poor immigrants and much of the native lower-class–“les marginaux,” as the French call them–live in American-styled, high-rise projects on the outside of the city.

My former teammates were a hodge-podge of suburban Parisians marginaux–the “beurs” (North Africans, mostly Muslim) and “renois” (blacks) who get followed by security guards in stores, who get hassled by the police during supposedly “random” stops to check ID papers. Our multicultural collective also included a few Serbian refugees who’d fled the war in the Balkans, two Poles who’d escaped Communist Poland–and some bourgeois French guys, too! We mirrored the larger society of which we were a part.

How do you teach tolerance in an age of fear? After the Paris attacks and the Brussels airport bombings? After San Bernadino and just a few weeks ago, Orlando? With the rise of ISIS and the Syrian refugee crisis and Trump’s border wall, on and on? It all seems to run together, it seems of a piece. Since Virginia Tech and Umpqua Community College, students in Texas, where I live, can legally carry concealed handguns in university classrooms.

We are most definitely living in an age of fear.

But it’s the other part of the question that strikes me, the notion of “tolerance.” The word is tossed around as this lofty goal to aspire to. Teaching a person to be tolerant of someone different from them is treated like this demanding thing, but it seems like such a low bar. To “tolerate,” according to Dictionary.com, is “to allow the existence, presence, practice, or act of without prohibition or hindrance,” “to endure without repugnance,” “to put up with…”

Really? Is that the best we can–or should–aim for?

Why not seek out this difference–and not just in the name of “political correctness” or as a gesture of politeness (though that’s plenty important, too), but for our own betterment. The more we know others, and know about them, only makes our own lives bigger, richer, more meaningful.

In Away Running, my co-author and former teammate Luc Bouchard and I weren’t only attempting to chronicle the tragic story of the 2005 Paris riots. To tell those boys’ story is to honor their memory and signal the brutal treatment of young people of color, particularly boys, at the hands of the police–and that’s hugely important. But we also tried to get at something broader. At the heart of Away Running is a story about a community of people. The black and brown boys and girls, and the police officers who fear and are suspicious of them, are all members of one community, of a single society. So, in telling the story of this community, we were exploring the notion of “tolerance.”

But we wanted to turn it on its head a little bit. For instance, the least tolerant character at the beginning of the story is one of the more oppressed ones. Freeman is a working-class black kid from the urban South. (Anyone who has been to Texas knows that it is as much, if not more, Southern than it is Western.) Free thinks that his only way out of the ‘hood is through sports–and he may be right in that.

But he also sees the world through the very narrow lens of his limited experience. All the North Africans he meets in Paris are “Arabs” to him and to be mistrusted. He lumps all white people together in a similar way. He’s more generous in his judgment of them (his friend Matt; his host family), but by virtue of their race, he sees them as being of a single tribe, just as he sees himself as belonging to a particular tribe, one whose name is written in the color of his skin. Freeman gives himself credit for “tolerating” these people, but he can only see their difference.

The other main character, Matt, who is white, is more generous in his worldview (and, significantly, has had more experience in the larger world outside his hometown). More than merely tolerating, he’s actually drawn to the “Other.” But his inability to recognize his own privilege–how the world views and treats him differently because of his whiteness and his financial privilege–keeps him from truly seeing them. In regarding them as Other (even if their Otherness attracts him), he is also shackled to preconceived notions of difference.

These are the guides who lead readers through the world of the novel, through the Paris of projects and poverty, of racial oppression and police brutality. (And that world, on many levels, very much resembles Ferguson, Missouri or Baltimore, resembles any of the many places here in the US where similar tragedies have occurred.)

But Luc and I didn’t want to construct facile “straw men” either. The police aren’t merely uniform, faceless stormtroopers like in Star Wars. We wanted to complicate even minor figures. We didn’t want to merely “tolerate” the villains of the story. We wanted to humanize them. Because when we merely “tolerate” another person, foreign or not, ally or adversary, we are, in essence, distinguishing that person from ourselves. We’re creating an “us” and “them” that, by its very definition, emphasizes divergence and even dissonance.

We, as humans, are so much more alike than we are different. Freeman, in Away Running, has more in common with Moussa, whom he mistrusts and, on some level, fears, than he does with Matt, with whom he bonds because of their shared North American-ness. And Matt, in his fascination with and attraction to Aïda, comes to understand that the fierce curiosity and daring independence that they share unites them. He and the Muslim girl are more of a kind than he is with any of his teammates.

To know others you need to move towards them, you need to be curious. To try to know others is to know yourself better. They are the mirror in which we can find our own reflection.

So maybe in place of an idea like “tolerance,” we should encourage “curiosity.” Maybe when we see unease and mistrust, “experience” should be championed instead. Maybe we should adopt a view like France’s SOS Racisme organization does: “Touches Pas Mon Pote.” Don’t mess with my buddy. The slogan means that I’m not merely going to “put up” with others–to endure them without repugnance. It claims the Other as my friend and declares that I’m going to defend her or him. And not just their presence, their right to be here, but their right to be whomever they are.

“Tolerance” is such a small word. Wouldn’t our lives and our communities be so much bigger if we, ourselves, strove to be bigger, too?


David Wright 1David’s book, Fire on the Beach: Recovering the Lost Story of Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers (Scribner 2001, Oxford U. Press paper 2002), was a New Yorker notable selection and one of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s “Best Books of 2001;” the Memphis Flyer called it “social history at its readable best.” He wrote the screenplay for the documentary, Rescue Men, based on the book. Magic Johnson’s Aspire network aired it on September 15, 2012. His work has been recognized with awards and fellowships from the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation, the Texas Institute of Letters and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others, and appeared in The Village Voice, The Kenyon Review, Newsday, Callaloo, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and elsewhere. A former Fulbright Fellow to Brazil, he teaches at the University of Illinois.


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The Star-Touched Queen EXCERPT

We are excited to share an excerpt of THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN by Roshani Chokshi with all of you today. We’ve had our eye on this book for a while, and it looks like it could be a lot of fun:

The Star-Touched Queen High ResTHE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN (St. Martin’s Griffin; April 26, 2016) is a lush and vivid standalone debut young adult fantasy that seamlessly weaves the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone with Indian folklore. Featuring a smart, independent anti-princess who must take her place as queen and a forbidden romance that defies the odds, debut author Roshani Chokshi pairs beautiful writing with a thrilling pace and compulsive plot, using her own Filipino and Indian heritage to create a culturally diverse and vividly imagined world.

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.

Roshani Chokshi CREDIT Aman SharmaFrom an incredibly fresh voice, Roshani Chokski’s THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN is a beautifully written standalone novel that will enchant young adult and fantasy readers until the last page.

Click here to read an excerpt of the book!

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2014 Year-End Giveaway

With the end of the year in sight, it’s time for us to take a brief break at Rich in Color. While we won’t be updating our main site with new posts, you may spot us from time to time on Tumblr or Twitter. We will be back to our regular posting schedule on Monday, January 5th.

In the meantime, let’s have a giveaway, shall we? This giveaway is open to people with U.S. mailing addresses only.

We have a ton of books up for grabs: Can You See Me by Estela Bernal, There’s a Name for This Feeling by Diane Gonzalez Bertrand, Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne, Taking Flight by Michaela DePrince, If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, Control by Lydia Kang, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina, Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves, When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds, Hunt for the Bamboo Rat by Graham Salisbury, Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley, This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki, Katrin’s Chronicles: The Canon of Jacquelene Dyanne by Valerie C. Woods, Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez (ARC), Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne (ARC), Bad Luck Girl by Sarah Zettel (ARC), and Rebellion by Karen Sandler (ARC). In addition, one person will win a YA book of their choice that was written by or stars a person of color.

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See you in 2015!

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Starting the service: A glimpse into the creation of “End of Service”

gabriela leeEveryone, please welcome Gabriela Lee, one of the many fantastic authors with a story in Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories. “End of Service” focuses on Aya, whose mother, an overseas Filipino worker, dies while abroad. We are very excited to have Gabriela here at Rich in Color to talk about OFWs, her experiences in Singapore, and writing “End of Service.”

Be sure to enter to win a copy of Kaleidoscope at the end of this post! Giveaway is open to people with U.S. mailing addresses only.


Imagine being told by your mother or your father that you need to grow up with just one parent, or that you need to live with your aunt or uncle, your grandparents, some distant relative. And that it’s not because your parents are splitting up, or because they aren’t getting along. It’s because they have to work. And their job requires them to be overseas: cleaning someone else’s kitchen, driving someone else’s car, sailing someone else’s ship, looking after someone else’s children.

There are about 96 million Filipinos, according to the 2013 census. Roughly 2.2 million of them are overseas Filipino workers, commonly abbreviated to OFWs. Out of these, about 51% of them are women, and most of them are working as laborers or unskilled workers. This means that many of them are working as domestic helpers, caretakers, and other service jobs — the jobs that many people are not interested in doing. And because these are jobs that pretty much scrape the bottom of the barrel, it’s not surprising to know that they’re not treated well.

We hear stories about them all the time: how an OFW was beaten by her employer, earning her bruises that stretch across her back like continents. How they are underfed and overworked, denied a single day off to rest or to socialize. How stricter measures are in place: to deny them entry in a mall because their congregation frightens other shoppers, to bar them from meeting in public places because it sullies the streets. Their services are sold legally (for the most part), but it’s easy enough to commodify them; after all, many agencies reason, there are more desperate men and women willing to do anything to work abroad and give their families a better life. Bodies of OFWs are sent back in boxes, kept in refridgerated storage in Manila, waiting for their families to come and pick them up.

Some of them have been waiting for a long, long time.

Of course, this is just one of the symptoms of a greater problem, one that has to do with Philippine governance and economics and the great postcolonial problem of colonized states — especially since the Philippines was thrice-colonized by Spain, the United States, and Japan. (You can look it up, if you want to: Jose Antonio Vargas’ essay, “My Life As An Undocumented Immigrant” is a great place to start. Other good reads are Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities and Vicente L. Rafael’s Contracting Colonialism.) But this was where I wanted to start: talking about why Filipinos thought that it was the highest honor to be able to work Abroad, as in, with a captial A.

They said that everything would be better Abroad; life would be easier Abroad; there would be no more problems like lack of food or shelter or basic health services Abroad.

Of course, it helped that I worked abroad for about four years, during my mid-twenties. I worked in Singapore, which is close enough to the Philippines that I could fly home more than once every year. And unlike many of my kababayans, I had a relatively comfortable job as a content creator for a online gaming platform. I had friends who are Singaporeans, Malaysians, South Asians. I spoke and wrote English well enough to be mistaken as not Filipino.

But I also knew that as soon as I stepped inside the immigration offices for the renewal of my work visa, everything changed. By virtue of carrying a Philippine passport, I was branded as an OFW. Never mind that I wasn’t working for my family, or for a better life, or for the hundred thousand other reasons that most OFWs have. I was seen as a domestic worker, a caretaker, household help.

And I felt humbled, and guilty, and helpless.

When I came back to teach at the University of the Philippines, I was intensely aware that the world had shifted. More and more Filipinos were deployed abroad, legally or illegally, with every passing week. Aya’s story in “End of Service” started out as a reflection of my students, those whose parents or relatives or siblings were working as OFWs. Once they had known that I also worked in Singapore, their stories spilled out — in class discussion, in their own writing. I could feel the mingled pride and pain, the struggles and the sacrifices and yes, even the selfishness that they dealt with every day.

I also wondered how far we would go, as Filipinos, in order to sacrifice ourselves in order to make sure that our loved ones would have a better life; how far the Philippine government might go in encouraging Filipinos to pursue work abroad and contribute to the country’s economy. OFW remittances were the biggest contributor to the Philippines’ GDP in the past few years. Who knows the lengths a country’s government might go in order to encourage this kind of economic growth?

I wrote “End of Service” about two days before the deadline. Two stories influenced me in writing this: the excellent “Woman in a Box” by Jose Dalisay Jr., which became the first chapter of his Man Asia-longlisted novel, Soledad’s Sister, and “Feasting” by Joshua Lim So, from Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 2, which is a fantastically horrific tale that spins Filipino mythic tropes into a story about biting the hand that feeds you (quite literally). Both stories talked, directly and indirectly, about the OFW experience and I wanted to continue the discussion and carry it into a more distinctive and urban SF-y vein.

The process of writing was both cathartic and frightening. I wrote the story during the time when my boyfriend’s good friend had just died and we were attending the wake for three evenings straight, going home in the early hours of the morning, and then staggering to school to teach. Aya was an amalgamation of students, both real and imagined: I knew that she had to be aware of her mother’s sacrifice, but she was also selfish in her own way. After all, she was receiving the bulk of her mother’s largesse without any of the labor that went along with it. So this was a chance to see how she would deal with the fact that first, she thought her mother was dead, and second, that her mother would continue to support her — but at a price.

The ending was the real struggle for me. In fact, that part was where I continuously revised, even after Alisa and Julia, the editors of Kaleidoscope, accepted the manuscript, simply because bits and pieces were still falling off from it. I’m actually pretty thankful that they worked intensively with me on it, and I think it’s better now in it’s final form than it was when it started. (Of course, I say that now, but each round of editing left me weeping and gnashing my teeth, wondering how I was going to pull off another minor miracle.)

Ultimately, I wanted to write this story for Filipino readers: for the teenagers and adults who had experienced what Aya experienced, even for just a fraction of it, and perhaps feel that they are not alone in this world. I also wanted to write it for others, for non-Filipinos, who might have encountered an OFW working alongside them, with them, and particularly, for them. Maybe it will remind the reader that they aren’t just a set of hands and feet, but people with thoughts and feelings and history, and treat them as they would any other human being. And not just Filipinos, but workers and laborers who made the godawful decision of having to leave their families and homes behind, not because they wanted to, but because it became a decision between life and death.


Kaleidoscope

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