YA Lit Chat Made of Awesome Author Spotlight:

April 13th and 14th at 9pm EST are going to be chalk full of YA authors, prizes and general pandaemonium as only the YA YA YA’s can induce. Your three blogging partners Mundie Moms, Novel Novice and myself will be spotlighting six authors each for six days so you can really get to know the awesome folk you will be chatting with.

From Sarwat’s Bio

March 2004- Mid-life crisis HITS. What am I doing? I am an ARTIST! There must be more to life than designing ductwork systems! Sign up onto a screenwriting course…
October 2004- Pitch my story to a panel of experts. One suggests it may be suitable for Bette Midler. He does not mean this as a compliment. Despair follows…
October 2004- Friend tells me to try my hand at a straight story. I bash out Templar Chapter 1. The Premise is awesome. Nobody would think to write about a teenage ‘kick-ass’ heroine fighting the supernatural, or mix in the utterly obscure Knights Templar…
I discover Buffy … despair follows.
November 2004- I discover Buffy. Despair follows… January 2005- I write and write and write…
March 2005- I discover The Da Vinci Code. Despair follows…
November 2005- TEMPLAR is finished (all 100,000 words of it)! Spend a lot of time lurking by the office photocopier after work (and they thought I was doing overtime…sorry!) and pack it off to my top ten carefully selected agents… The NEXT DAY (I kid you not) the rejections start to arrive…

What Bookalicious has to say:

It’s not very often that I put an author up to rockstar status. There are only a few on that list of mine. Sarwat Chadda being the only one I have ever met. I am in awe of the world he created, and the fact that while writing that effed up stuff for us to read that he is still sane :P Sarwat is a fascinating bloke and an equally fascinating writer. I was so sad to learn the news that there will be no third Billi book. I know that all of the fans are still mourning as Billi’s story wasn’t finished. She means so much to those of us who love her. We need more feminist characters for our young girls and another one got the axe.

I was lucky enough to video interview Sarwat. See what he has to say about Billi and his writing!

Visit Sarwat at his website, his blog, and and Twitter!

Bloggers love Sarwat!

YA Bibliophile reviews Dark Goddess.
Fire and Ice reviews Dark Goddess.
Debbie’s World of Books reviews Devil’s Kiss
Reading Teen reviews Devil’s Kiss.

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Guest Post: Taking the Crown Yourself by Sarwat Chadda

The most common question I’m asked is why is a middle-aged bloke writing from the teen girl’s perspective?

There are two answers to this. The first is that I have daughters. So I wanted to write about heroines, for them. In a way, surely that is all the answer I need to give.

But what sort of heroine? Should my heroines by the sort of girl that listlessly waits for her boyfriend, obsessing about how much she loves him, how her world would completely collapse if he even glanced at another girl, how she has no meaning or purpose without him?

Or should she be the sort of girl, sword in hand, ventures out into the big, bad and beautiful world and makes her own fortune. One who stands by herself and doesn’t need to lean on the ‘oh he’s so perfect’ boyfriend. I kind of like those sorts of heroines.

Sisters who are doing it for themselves.

Now this is a gross simplification, but there’s seems to be two fundamental templates with heroines. You have Cinderella and you have Athene.

Cinderella, a slave. The weak, put upon nice girl would doesn’t complain, allows people to abuse her, and waits, patiently, passively, for her prince to come. Her only qualification is she looks good in a dress. She has power because it’s given to her. She doesn’t earn it, she does nothing but look pretty. That is her entire worth. That power, the crown, could be taken away at any moment because it’s not hers. The prince owns her as much as her evil stepmother ever did.

Then you have Athene, the goddess of war and wisdom. The patron of the greatest of all Greek cities, Athens. The woman who sprung, fully armed, from the brow of Zeus himself. She was born ready. The goddess who guided the best of Greek heroes, Achilles and Odysseus. The girl who kicked Ares, the god of war, in the butt very very hard. You try taken her crown and you will suffer. She’s smart, deadly and oh so glorious in her fury.
Now I’m not saying they’ve got to be sword-wielding fanatics, but it helps. You look into the old stories and fairy tales and you’ll find them. Penelope, wife of Odysseus and her endless weaving. Vasilisa the Brave and her journey into the forest of Baba Yaga. Dorothy, she’s one of the best heroines in literature, brave, loyal and dedicated, the bane of evil witches everywhere!

But what of love, what of romance, I hear you cry? What about those moments when the whirlwind of passion has you helpless in his embrace?

There is no greater quality in a hero than their capacity to love. A hero is defined by their capacity to sacrifice, for their loved ones, for family, for strangers. There is a price to be paid for true love and a hero, more than any other, is the one willing to pay it.

But there is love between equals, one born out of mutual respect, one where each partner holds equal power and equal responsibility. Then there is love where on partner retains all the power, decides everything, and merely indulges the other. Like some pet.

There’s a whole wide work of literature out there, growing bigger everyday. There are tales to suit every palate and every desire. Heroines of all shapes and sizes and colours. Some carry wands, others swords, some glass slippers.

Try them all, you may surprise yourself.

I was so excited to get this post from Sarwat Chadda to put up. I agree with everything he says and the Billi the main character in both Devil’s Kiss and Dark Goddess is definitely a self-rescuing princess.

You can check out Sarwat online at Twitter, website, and blog.

So what do you think about a male author writing a feminist character? I think he is doing the right thing for his daughters!

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Hawkadda was in the house!

If you guys follow this blog, or Twitter, or my Tumblr you will know that Rachel Hawkins and Sarwat Chadda came to Hicklebee’s last night. I am here to report that they rocked my socks off folks and I was lucky enough to interview them at the end of the event. I am extremely short and they are extremely tall and this is the reasoning of the seating, after such a long day yesterday neither of us felt like finding seats that made us seem even. Now if you haven’t read any of the books I beg of you to do so, the series while wildly different are both full of win. Here are the video interviews, tell us in the comments what you like about them!

Rachel Hawkins:

Sarwat Chadda

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Sarwat Chadda Review Link Up:

I have a little secret. I am in love with Sarwat Chadda’s Billi SanGreal series. She is a kick ass no holds barred self rescuing princess who happens to be the only female member of The Templar. Billi is smart, fun and just a fantastically good role model. When I heard that book three may not get published due to lack of sales, I knew this was not the fault of the books. They are fabulous reads. Sarwat also told me a bit about book three, I don’t know if I can share that but it is going to be amazing! So I hope you join me in my save Billi campaign. I am sending out (from my own pocket) 10 of each of the books to reviewers, and if you have already reviewed the book you can link up here! Let’s save Billi!

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Review: Dark Goddess by Sarwat Chadda

From Goodreads: New enemies, new romance, and new horrors,

Billi’s back, and it seems like the Unholy just can’t take a hint.

Still reeling from the death of her best friend, Kay, Billi’s thrust back into action when the Templars are called to investigate werewolf activity. And these werewolves are like nothing Bilil’s seen before.

They call themselves the Polenitsy – Man Killers. The ancient warrior women of Eastern Europe, supposedly wiped out centuries ago. But now they’re out of hiding and on the hunt for a Spring Child — an Oracle powerful enough to blow the volcano at Yellowstone — precipitating a Fimbulwinter that will wipe out humankind for good.

The Templars follow the stolen Spring Child to Russia, and the only people there who can help are the Bogatyrs, a group of knights who may have gone to the dark side. To reclaim the Spring Child and save the world, Billi needs to earn the trust of Ivan Romanov, an arrogant young Bogatyr whose suspicious of people in general, and of Billi in particular.

Let me just get this out of the way: OMG WTF YAY FTW!

Sarwat Chadda’s second book in the Billi SanGreal series is mind-blowingly epic. So epic in fact that I just want to download a list of praising adjectives from a thesaurus and just put all of those in a text and call that my review. Sarwat is a master at mixing lore and handing them to you in a mash up that will literally have you anticipating each sentence. Usually when I am inundated with a mash up of different lore I immediately dislike the book *cough*CharlaineHarris*cough* and am unable to enjoy the work.

In Dark Goddess Billi is faced with life after Kay’s death. She is in a depression and resents being forced into the life of the Templar. On a random patrol she is surprised by a Werewolf and saves a small child from being eaten and that is where the book takes off at a break neck pace to the finish and oh my what a finish.

"Baba Yaga"

In this book we have Billi starting a flirtation with a Romanov Prince, saving a Spring Child from the epic witch Baba Yaga and learning to become the Templar she wants to be. Sometimes books suffer from what we call the Sophomore Slump but Dark Goddess if anything improved the story of Billi and Chadda’s writing was tight. I am a visual reader and a motion picture plays in my head as I am reading and with Dark Goddess at no point did I have to stop and assign the movie playing in my head characteristics.

These books are so well written and fascinating that I know whenever I start one that I will be incapacitated until I can finish. I only hope there will be more in the Billi SanGreal series. I can’t press upon you enough to read these books. If there is one set I am going to be pushing this year it is this.

Billi SanGreal and her battle are important on so many fronts. Not often do we get a YA character that is not white, that the cover hasn’t been white washed, and more than that Billi is a beacon for feminism: she is strong and needs no one to survive. A true to life self rescuing princess.

Have you read the books or are planning to?

Find out how to get copies of Devil’s Kiss and Dark Goddess signed, personalized and shipped to you!

FTC Disclosure: I picked this up in ARC form at a conference.

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