Google+ Reading Teen: Interview with Sarwat Chadda & Winners of Devil's Kiss Novels Announced!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Interview with Sarwat Chadda & Winners of Devil's Kiss Novels Announced!

Winner's of The Devil's Kiss Novels

First Place (Devil's Kiss & signed Dark Goddess): Carol from South Africa
Second Place (signed Dark Goddess): Mariana from Brazil
Third Place (Dark Goddess): Marg from Pennsylvania


I'm so excited, Sarwat Chadda author of the Devil's Kiss Novels, was so kind to answer some of our questions. Yes, they are quite lengthy. Do not fear, the answers read like a mini novel. So fans buckle up and enjoy the ride.

RT: Devils Kiss & Dark Goddess were so unique, how did you come up with the storyline?
SC: Devil’s Kiss came from a visit to a local hospital’s PICU (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit) and seeing all the babies in incubators and realising the worst nightmare of any parent is seeing their child die.
And that was God’s work. Didn’t He send down the Angel of Death to slaughter all the firstborn children of Egypt? What can justify such misery? I’ve always thought that utterly cruel, the Egyptians were not to blame for the enslavement of the Israelites. I’ve a big issue with those who feel they have God on their side, it’s just a recipe for trouble. Hence the villain in Devil’s Kiss is God’s right hand arch-angel. He thinks its’ his job to bring humanity back to the straight and narrow so intends to unleash the Tenth Plague, the death of the firstborn, on Britain.
Dark Goddess was inspired by all the fears about climate change, pollution and the damage humanity is doing to the planet. The dark goddess is an ancient witch, Baba Yaga, who’s decided enough is enough. If mankind won’t repair the damage it’s done, then mankind must go. It had it’s chance. Baba Yaga can control the elements and intends to create a global catastrophe, the eruption of the Yellowstone super-volcano, and decimate the world’s population, to cull it, to more manageable levels.
I just like big scale, edge of your seat and high-anxiety type of stories!

RT: I watched a special on the History Channel about the Knights Templar, It was fascinating. What sparked your interest in the Knights Templar?
SC: I’ve always been fascinated by the Crusades period. It has the best, coolest heroes (Saladin and Richard the Lionheart), the best warriors and the greatest setting.
The Templars were created form the Crusades and their history matches it perfectly. They were born at the beginning and they were the last to leave, when Acre fell. Soon after that they were destroyed.

There are so many legends and myths surrounding them. The disappearance of their treasure, the artefacts they were said to have found in the Temple of Solomon, their dedication and their skill. Did they study the occult? Were they magicians? What exactly was the deal between them and the Assassins? They are just plain COOL.

For me the best twist was bringing a girl into this male-dominated order. Lots of stories are centered around the son following the father, Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker and others are all defined by their fathers’ histories. It was far more fun to bring a girl into the mix. What would it be like for a girl to be trained up as a Templar/ Maybe to be the next Templar Master herself? It’s never said out loud but it’s clear Arthur’s training Billi to be his successor. And why not? It is the 21st Century after all.

RT: I love that Billi SanGreal was such a freakin' take-care-of-business type of chick. Did anyone inspire you personally, or did you write her character out of the great imagination of yours?
SC: Billi started off the moment my youngest daughter opened her eyes. Her eyes were, and still are, very large and very dark. They have an intensity that’s not something you expect in someone so young. But my eldest is the trainee stuntwoman. She’s just started parkour and I dread the moment she decides she can jump from our roof to the neighbours.
But both are much younger than Billi. They inhabit that period of life when Billi had two loving parents, so I can imagine Billi was a lot like them at the start. But when Billi’s mum died, and especially when the Templars found Kay, that’s when it all started to go wrong for Billi.
Billi’s like her father, but is aware of what she’ll become if she closes herself off to the world like he did. Arthur has no fear of death because he’s dead inside. He died when his wife, Jamila, was murdered. It’s not Billi’s fault but she’s the one who’s suffered for it. If there any overall arc for Billi it’s to find true love. Not necessarily the ‘coming out in hot flushes and shivering at his touch’ but something deep and something safe. But Billi’s a Templar, and there’s a price to pay in keeping the world safe. She’s paid it once in Devil’s Kiss and it almost destroyed her. Dark Goddess is about her coming back from that. She meets a young man, Tsarevich Ivan Alexeivich Romanov, and he plays a huge part in her reconnecting with the world, with rediscovering her own humanity and capacity to love. Ivan’s my anti-bad boy. Elegant, charming, highly cultured and a cool, highly trained and ruthless warrior.
I’ve also been influenced by heroines of the past, both real and mythical. Boudicca, the Rani of Jhansi are two favourites, and we’ve Athene, the goddess of war and wisdom. These women have had a profound influence on Billi. And I’m tired of passive female protagonists who are constantly being saved by their boyfriends and can’t do anything without them. GET A FREAKING LIFE.

RT: Who was your favorite character out of both books? Why?
SC: Apart from Billi? It’s a choice between Arthur and Elaine. Elaine’s so much fun to write and I worry that’s because deep down I have the personality of a cranky, old woman. Arthur’s so conflicted, brutal on the outside yet so soft and damaged within. He’s my voice about the fears one has as a parent. Mind you, I wouldn’t want to be anything like him. He’s a very bad parent indeed.

RT: I loved reading with a Russian accent, in my head, the whole time I was reading Dark Goddess... have you ever been to Russia?
SC: Going to Russia was pretty essential. Devil’s Kiss was set in London, my home town. Every street, every building and every location Billi appears in is based on a real place. Her house is one I picked when I visited the Temple district, the Temple Church is a real building and the climax, the fight on the building site, is based on my hundreds of visits to building sites during my twenty years in construction.
 So, when the book moved to Russia, it needed to have the same authenticity. I couldn’t just copy out descriptions from guide books plus the best bits aren’t usually in the guide books. It’s the little touches that make the difference, like Billi rubbing the nose of the dog statue, and her trip up to Sparrow Hills, plus the fire dancers in the park. The base of the Bogatyrs is based on one of the Seven Sisters, huge buildings built by Stalin to show the world how great Moscow was. That and the underground, with its’ mosaics and golden chandeliers has to be seen for real.

RT: Do you have a writing ritual? Something you do every time you sit down, that ensures a great writing session.
SC: As soon as I drop the kids off. The school day’s pretty short so I try and get down as quickly as possible. My aim is to do 2,000 words a day. But I’m back in the habit of writing at nights again. I quite like taking the laptop down to the local cafe, it’s nice to get out of the house and I like to work with a bit of activity, it doesn’t bother me. The best thing about the cafe is NO INTERNET access so no YouTube, Facebook or Twitter to distract me. I don’t usually use the internet much, even for research. Wikipedia put me off when I was researching the Crusades and found a few fundamental mistakes. Plus I love reading history books anyway.

RT: Favorite thing you munch on while you're hard at work? other that curry Wednesday, of course! :)
SC: I run twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday. I hope that’s keeping the curry calories off. I love drinking coffee and right now am halfway through a jar of Vanilla flavoured coffee. Hey, I’m not saying I have cultured tastes but I really love it! One third of it is milk and always a spoonful of sugar. I used to devour chocolate, but realised my stomach was getting so large I could barely reach the keyboard anymore!

RT: What was your favorite story to read or to hear while you were growing up?
SC: The Hobbit is my absolutely favourite book of ALL TIME. I remember being read it at school when I was about 7. The first chapter talks about hobbits and how they hide form us big folk, I was convinced it was true. Then as the story unfolded I was utterly transported to another world. I don’t think I ever really came back. Since then I’ve been a daydreamer and thank goodness there are jobs for daydreamers, like storytelling. I reckon I spend half my waking day daydreaming, so it’s good I don’t operate heavy machinery or fly a plane.

RT: Can you tell us what's next for you? Another book hopefully.
SC: It’s a trilogy and it will KICK ARSE to the highest degree. I hope I’ll be able to spill the beans on it in a few weeks, but it’s set in the same world as Billi, and there are very subtle clues about this trilogy in Devil’s Kiss. I’ve got a boy protagonist and a very cool girl character who is the world’s greatest assassin. She’s someone who could give Billi a run for her money.

On the Billi front I’d love there to be a book 3. The first quarter is already written and is based on a huge secret in Billi’s life, one she’s not aware of though the clues are in both Devil’s Kiss and Dark Goddess. However, it depends on how well Dark Goddess does.

RT: Last but not least... What is so great about London?
SC: It’s history. There are streets and parts of the city that are unchanged since Roman times. There are places with plague pits, and there is the church where the Templars once worshipped. Marble Arch was once Tyburn, where they used to hang people. At the heart of London is the Tower, built by William the Conqueror and haunted by the ghost of dead queens.

Thank you so much Sarwat Chadda for your time and sharing with us! Congratulations on Dark Goddess!


  1. Hi Amy,

    Great !

    I see I am a winner and I am absolutely thrilled.

    I am really looking forward to losing myself in these two books.


    Carol T

  2. Hi Amy!

    I see I am a winner!!!!


  3. Congrats, gang!
    I'll be putting the signed copies in the post on Friday. Hope you enjoy DG!

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