Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Interview with Rati Mehrotra, author of Markswoman

Please welcome Rati Mehrotra to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Markswoman is published on January 23d by Harper Voyager.

Please join The Qwillery in wishing Rati a Happy Publication Day!

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first piece you remember writing?

Rati:  A poem titled “A Pea in the Sea”, written when I was five years old. It was full of pathos. I wish I still had it, I could do with a good laugh.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Rati:  A hybrid, I think. I’m a total pantser when it comes to short fiction. But if we’re talking books, then I need to know my ending. I may not know how to get there – which is why the middles are so scary – but I must know before I start how the book will end. Of course, a lot might change on the way. And I certainly don’t plan every chapter.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Rati:  Getting the time to do it! As a working mom, it’s a bit of a struggle to find the right balance. I often write at night when everyone else is asleep.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Rati:  So many amazing writers. I was a voracious reader as a kid, and devoured every book I could get my hands on. My favorite writers include Ursula Le Guin, Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, Neil Gaimam, Gene Wolfe, Patricia A. McKillip, Stephen King, JRR Tolkien, JK Rowling, and Jane Austen.

I have also been influenced by Indian mythology. I grew up hearing stories from the Indian epics, and they have seeped into my soul.

TQDescribe Markswoman in 140 characters or less.

Rati:  An order of magical-knife-wielding female assassins brings both peace and chaos to their post-apocalyptic world in a blend of science fiction and epic fantasy.

TQTell us something about Markswoman that is not found in the book description.

Rati:  ‘Asiana’ is a play on ‘Asia’ of course; the world of Markswoman is a fictional, post-apocalyptic version of the real Asia. But the word (pronounced Aashiyana) also means ‘home’ in Urdu and Hindi. Not just any home, but a safe, secure place of shelter. It is this sense of safety and security my protagonist longs for. As, perhaps, we all do.

TQWhat inspired you to write Markswoman? What appeals to you about writing Epic Fantasy?

RatiMarkswoman just demanded to be written. An image of Kyra came to me one day, and would not get go until I put pen to paper. The world itself is inspired by my fascination with mythology, especially stories of the Goddess Kali, and my interest in post-apocalyptic literature..

I love writing (and reading!) epic fantasy because I can thoroughly immerse myself in it. It is both the ultimate escape and a test of creativity – can I build a world a reader will believe in and fall into?

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Markswoman?

Rati:  I read a lot about travel in the middles ages, the Silk Route, the geography and climate of Central Asia, and, of course, the myths of the Goddess Kali. It helps that I grew up reading such stories, and that I have spent time in both deserts and mountains in Asia.

I also researched daggers and martial arts. I’ve done both karate and Tai Chi, and that was really helpful in writing the fight scenes.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Markswoman.

Rati:  I love the cover of my book! It depicts a katari, a dagger forged from a rare alien metal that grants Markswomen powers of telepathy. I couldn’t have asked for a more fitting image to capture the heart of my story.

TQIn Markswoman who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Rati:  The easiest character to write was Kyra, my protagonist. She came to me almost fully formed many years ago. She is far from perfect – she has a hot temper, and makes mistakes. But she’s loyal and tough, and loves her friends - qualities I admire.

The most difficult character to write was the villainous Tamsyn. She is far more complex than comes across on these pages, and some day I hope to share more of her story.

TQWhich question about Markswoman do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


“Rati, how long did it take you to write and publish this book?”

“Eight years, my friend, eight years.”

I think many new writers don’t realize just how patient and persevering you have be, if you want to be traditionally published.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Markswoman.

Rati:  Both from Shirin Mam!

“Let the past be what it is. Let the future bring what it will. Stay in the present. Be aware of yourself and who you are. It is all that matters.”

“May you walk on water and pass through fire. May the blood that you shed nourish the soil and the bodies you strike feed the crows. May the katari protect your flesh and Kali protect your soul. And when your work is done, may the Ones take you with them to the stars for the last journey of your life.”

TQWhat's next?

Rati:  The sequel to Markswoman, which is due for publication in January 2019. While I have a completed draft, I expect to work on revisions and edits for much of this year.

Next on my agenda is a project rather close to my heart: a middle grade secondary world fantasy novel which I drafted a few years ago. I need to revise it extensively before my agent can send it out on submission.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Rati:  Thanks for having me!

Asiana 1
Harper Voyager, January 23, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

An order of magical-knife wielding female assassins brings both peace and chaos to their post-apocalyptic world in this bewitching blend of science fiction and epic fantasy—the first entry in a debut duology that displays the inventiveness of the works of Sarah Beth Durst and Marie Lu.

Kyra is the youngest Markswoman in the Order of Kali, a highly trained sisterhood of elite warriors armed with telepathic blades. Guided by a strict code of conduct, Kyra and the other Orders are sworn to protect the people of Asiana. But to be a Markswoman, an acolyte must repudiate her former life completely. Kyra has pledged to do so, yet she secretly harbors a fierce desire to avenge her dead family.

When Kyra’s beloved mentor dies in mysterious circumstances, and Tamsyn, the powerful, dangerous Mistress of Mental Arts, assumes control of the Order, Kyra is forced on the run. Using one of the strange Transport Hubs that are remnants of Asiana’s long-lost past, she finds herself in the unforgiving wilderness of desert that is home to the Order of Khur, the only Order composed of men. Among them is Rustan, a young, disillusioned Marksman whom she soon befriends.

Kyra is certain that Tamsyn committed murder in a twisted bid for power, but she has no proof. And if she fails to find it, fails in her quest to keep her beloved Order from following Tamsyn down a dark path, it could spell the beginning of the end for Kyra—and for Asiana.

But what she doesn’t realize is that the line between justice and vengeance is razor thin . . . thin as the blade of a knife.

About Rati

Photo by Veronika Roux
Born and raised in India, Rati Mehrotra makes her home in Toronto, Canada, where she writes novels and short fiction and blogs at ratiwrites.com. Markswoman is her debut novel. Find her on Twitter @Rati_Mehrotra.


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