Friday, July 2, 2010

Shifting into High Gear: Sarwat Chadda of Devil's Kiss and Dark Goddess

Today I get to introduce you to the intriguing world of Billi SanGreal, a teen heroine written by author Sarwat Chadda. Sarwat's first YA novel, Devil's Kiss, was brought to the US by Disney/Hyperion and the second in his series, Dark Goddess, can't get to the US fast enough (it just released in the UK on July 1st)!

ME: Sarwat, I love the title, Devil's Kiss, and unfortunately I haven't gotten to read the book yet, is there a particular scene that the title comes from or how did you come to that title altogether?

SARWAT: Devils and angels are the same, devils are angels that fell from divine grace. What I wanted to blur was the distinction between the good guys and the bad. Everyone thinks they’re the hero. The most significant scene explaining this was when the Devil explains what Hell is to Billi.

ME: I love blurred lines in YA--it's great for getting readers to wonder and ask questions! In Devil's Kiss we meet Billi SanGreal (love the last name, by the way) who's a 15 year-old school girl and somewhat reluctant recruit for the Knights Templar. Some of my followers might not realize just how far back the actual Knight Templars go in history. How much (and what sort of) deep research did you do to make the group feel authentic and true to its roots?

SARWAT: I love medieval history and especially the crusades period. The Templars were a big part of that, so they’ve been in the back of my mind for years before I wrote Devil’s Kiss. So there were a lot of history books, plus visits to the key locations mentioned in the book. As luck would have it I worked just around the corner from Temple Church and spent a lot of lunchtimes getting to know the area.

Glad you liked the name! Though the story is urban fantasy I did want to give the Templar characters a slight twist, name-wise. I took the main names from Arthurian Legend, but the central conceit is no-one thinks their names are odd or unusual. The world of Devil’s Kiss and Dark Goddess is a fantastical version of ours and the names reflect that.

ME: Playing with names can be a wonderful thing in literature! What a great opportunity--working so close to the Temple Church! Readers, you can't tell me you aren't fascinated by Devil's Kiss already! Tomorrow Sarwat will return and we'll talk a little about the difference between reality and what we write in our fictional worlds.

Check out Sarwat's site and his blog. Sarwat's also on Twitter--follow him!

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