By Roshani Chokshi • Narrated by Laurie Catherine Winkel and P. J. Ochlan
Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.
Originally, I wanted to write something light and fun, set in La Belle Epoque era because it seemed decadent and glamorous to me. I wanted to write my own version of National Treasure with puzzles and escapades, banter and romance. What I didn’t realize was that 1889 was a time of both beauty and horror, where someone like myself would be a second-class citizen. As someone of Indian and Filipino descent, writing a book set in the 19th century meant grappling with the horrors of colonialism. After that realization, the book took a different shape in my heart. It’s a story with a treasure hunt, romance, puzzles, banter, glamor…but also about finding your place in the world when you’re told you’re not wanted, and making sense of the unknown.
In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise Libro.fm listeners about your audiobook?
There’s so many fun accents! P. J. Ochlan and Laurie Catherine Winkel did a stellar job.
Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?
I’ve listened to parts. I find it really hard to listen to my own work though I’m always humbled that someone has taken my story and made it their own. From what I listened to, I was struck by the dedication to bringing each character alive through voice. They were all so distinct that they came alive to me.
Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?
What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?
Independent bookstores are a home away from home. Booksellers are the magicians holding keys to dozens of portals. I am deeply indebted to my indie bookstores and booksellers because they remind you that the experience of reading is deeply personal. You live and die in those books; you fall in love; rule kingdoms; topple tyrannical governments. You emerge utterly the same, but some corner of your mind is now lit up or some piece of your heart lost in the pages you consumed. There’s no greater magic.