“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their Inspirations and Influences. In this feature, we invite writers to talk about their new books, older titles, and their writing overall.
Tomorrow, August 25, we publish the third – and last – short story in our summer 2015 line-up of tales of First Contact: The Vishakanya’s Choice by Roshani Chokshi is a historical Fantasy piece, the story of a young woman at a crossroads.
Give a warm welcome to Roshani Chokshi, everyone!
“I had no choice” is a maudlin-riddled line most often echoed by teary-eyed heroes and snarling women. That line got me thinking about the word “had.” It feels so tactile. Possession. Haves. Have Nots. We draw all kinds of lines from “have” and “had.” Sometimes they are racial or socio-economic, with Haves and Have Nots separated by railways or right-and-wrong-sided-roads. Sometimes they carve intangible lines in our hearts. “You have my heart” or “You had me at hello.”
The Vishakanya’s Choice sprang from that idea of truly possessing choice and my own emotionally trying experiences. Around the time I started writing The Vishakanya’s Choice, I felt stuck. After graduating college, I peddled my degree in Medieval English and got a job working as a legal assistant in a cold tax law office (read: I scanned documents). All those months spent writing, working and saving money felt fruitless. I could have constructed a tiny galaxy with all my short story and query letter rejections. My unpublished manuscripts were gathering Internet dust. Doubt and its full-mouth of needle teeth nipped at me every day. And then, tragedy struck a family friend. They lost their daughter, a young mother and physician, to cancer. That experience, though felt from afar, fueled the story. I was angry with the loss of a beautiful, talented and brilliant woman. I was angry with her powerlessness.
Sometimes decisions are made for us, and those are inevitable and unavoidable. But that power of making our own choices is often taken for granted. Those small things — where we go, how we get there, when we do it — craft the landscape of our lives. What if that power was stripped away? What if choice was a currency? What if without it, lives were static things, buffeted along with no real agency?
From there, I started thinking about the other players in the story. The ones who seemed like they had it all, wearing the world as a crown, mythic and aloof. We all know that person (or persons): the one with the perfectly coiffed hair and perpetual Instagram-filtered life; the one with more Twitter followers; the one with the pithy replies and the one who YOU KNOW WHO is following despite your attempts to coax them into friendship. I wanted to know how choice trapped them as well.
The story remains important to me because of the time in which it was written and how it forced me to grapple with my own choices. Contemplating a world where choice was a currency exposed my myopia. I saw myself as stuck, wandering and waiting. But mostly, I was whining. I felt like giving up, convinced that every cosmic machine had ground its heel on my writing dreams. But I made the choice to try harder. I read more, wrote more. Learned more. And that choice made all the difference.
How to Get the Story
The Vishakanya’s Choice will be published officially on August 25, 2015. You’ll be able to read the short story in full for free here on The Book Smugglers, but we’ll also have a DRM-free ebook (EPUB, MOBI, AZK) that contains the story as well as a Q&A, and an essay from the author available for purchase on all major ebook retail sites.
Need a copy *right* now? Want to read it *today*? You can buy it directly from us!
Add the book on Goodreads, and read The Vishakanya’s Choice for free online on August 25, 2015.