This week from our ‘Because I’m a Lady’ series, we sat down with Disney Books author Roshani Chokshi to chat about her joining the Disney Publishing family, and how an early love of Disney inspired her to create magical stories.
When did you discover your passion for writing?
I’ve been obsessed with writing since I was super little. I was always making up tiny stories, and then forcing my family to read them. They were clearly epic tales too: “Someone walks onto a street. Someone sees a dog. The end.”
I honestly cannot remember, because it seems like something that was with me from the very beginning. Walt Disney World and Disney movies were so integrated into our family life. Growing up in Georgia, it was an easy drive to get to Orlando, so we’d go pretty much every spring break.
How has your love of Disney inspired you in life and/or as a writer?
Well, to paraphrase many a brilliant author . . . the point of stories showing fantastical demons, dragons, or orcs is not to prove that they exist, but that they can be beaten. Disney stories of love vanquishing hate, light conquering dark, and the promise that if you do your best and wait things out, things will get better, was so formative for me. I needed to see stories of victory for the underdogs, of found family, of finding your place. because so many things felt emotionally chaotic for me growing up.
How did you come up with the idea for Aru Shah and the End of Time?
The idea for Aru has sat patiently in my brain since I was in my early teens. One of the oldest stories I kept writing over and over again was about me and my best friends becoming queens of fairyland. But that’s where Aru came from . . . a love of ensemble girl casts who band together, love each other fiercely, and defeat evil! More importantly, with Aru, I wanted to write a story where I would see myself. It was really hard growing up and never seeing people that looked like me in mainstream media or to never see the stories of your heritage in the limelight. I wanted to celebrate who I am, not turn it into an issue.
It’s INCREDIBLE!!! It means the world to me! The whole Disney-Hyperion family has been so supportive of my vision with Aru. I couldn’t imagine this story in a better home. It’s also so heartwarming to see the fans of my young adult series (The Star-Touched Queen / A Crown of Wishes — both of which are Indian-inflected fantasy) picking up Aru. I’ve always loved children’s books, and I love that, just like a Disney movie, it’s not only kids who appreciate them.
What can fans expect from Aru Shah?
Fans can expect lots of laughter, lots of “oops…” moments, and, I hope, lots of heart. I also really hope that the stories mentioned in Aru inspire readers to do some researching of their own! Many of us are familiar with Greek and Norse mythology, but Hindu mythology is a vast, sprawling narrative with as many nuances as there are deities. I hope I’ve laid out some solid framework to help kids navigate their own curiosity.
What is your favorite Disney memory?
It’s not a specific memory, but a sense of atmosphere. Twinkling lights, cold eggnog, Mickey Mouse up ahead waving at us, fireworks spangling the sky, and my family crowded tight and warm around me. The first time I went to Walt Disney World was during the holidays, and I remember the beautiful decorations. Best feeling in the world!
What advice would you give to aspiring female authors?
Support one another, because the world will always try to divide us. Remember that NO ONE, especially NO MAN, can destroy your career. You’re not alone in your fears and your doubts. Your voice is cherished. Your story is needed. The world can’t wait to listen!
You can order a copy of Aru Shah and the End of Time from Roshani Chokshi now!