Rati Mehrotra Dishes on her Debut Fantasy, Markswoman

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We have a few simple words for you: magical knife-wielding female assassins. Convinced yet? What if we tell you they are armed with telepathic blades? Yeah, you’re hooked! Rati Mehrotra debuts with a powerful duology, and book one, Markswoman, will take you on a sweeping adventure.
 
In Markswoman, Kyra is a member of the Order of Kali. She and her fellow Markswomen are highly trained warriors — with the aforementioned telepathic blades. When the dangerous Tamsyn takes control of the Order, Kyra is forced to run and mysterious technology helps her transport far away to safety. Now in the wilderness, Kyra is determined to prove that Tamsyn is a murderer. When she meets the Order of Khur, a group composed only of men, she befriends Marksman Rustan. With his help can Kyra save her Order and her people?  
 
We can’t wait to dive into this exciting world, but first we caught up with the author and asked her to tell us more. Enjoy!
 
I’ve been carrying the story of Markswoman inside me for many years. Kyra Veer — the orphan-turned-assassin with a burning need for revenge — came to me almost fully formed one quiet afternoon in Switzerland a decade ago. I knew what she looked like, how she felt when she took down her first mark, and the dreams that haunted her sleep. Dreams of doors, of death, of nothingness.
 
But it would be a long time before I put pen to paper, and paid attention to her story — and my own need to write it. Because, let’s admit it, it’s very easy not to write. Especially if you’re working, or moving country, or somebody’s Mom, or pregnant. And yeah, at the time, I was all of those. Don’t even ask.
 
But Kyra refused to be ignored. She refused to be forgotten. In the upheaval of my life, she was the one constant, the dream that demanded to be made real. And so, after I moved to Canada, I began to write in earnest. I wrote in-between diaper changes, cooking, and incoherent screaming. I wrote in the dead of night when the rest of the house was asleep, with no clue if what I was writing was any good, but knowing that I had to do it. The other characters emerged one by one: Rustan, strong and principled, yet driven by an anguish of his own. Shirin Mam, wise and unknowable, full of secrets to the very end. Tamsyn, beautiful and deadly, with far more in common with Kyra than Kyra would ever accept. And of course, Asiana itself, because world is also character — a post-apocalyptic, alternate version of Asia, inspired by my own travels, and a mythology-steeped childhood. 
 
I completed the first draft of Markswoman in 2011. I still have that version. I look at it sometimes, with a kind of nostalgic horror. Oh, the story’s fine; it’s more or less the same story as the final version, give or take 30,000 words. But the writing sucks. There are thirteen POVs. Yes, you read that right. Thirteen. I was quite liberal in giving voice to all my characters, before realizing that some I needed to keep to myself.
 
It would take a few more years, some amazing beta-readers (and a few thousand agent rejections) to develop my writerly craft. There would be dark times when I would contemplate the bleakness of my future as a writer, and drown my sorrow in chocolate. (Note: I use chocolate as both reward and consolation. It ensures I eat one piece every day.)
 
The best thing that happened for my sanity was joining a writing group. In 2012, I spent a year in St John’s, Newfoundland — a writer’s paradise. The eastern-most city of North America, it stands on a hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, braving hurricanes, blizzards, fog, and generally terrible weather. When the sun comes out, it takes your breath away. It’s the kind of place that can wring poetry from the most pragmatic soul. I joined the local Writers Alliance and fell in with the Scribe Wenches, a group of wonderful lady writers. We met over tea and cake, read aloud bits and pieces from our manuscripts, and critiqued each other’s work (gently). 
 
In 2013, I moved back to Toronto, and met my current writing group members at a local convention. For the next two years, we met over lunch (in a cheap, quiet restaurant that has since closed, sadly) to critique each other’s stories and cheer each other on. This was also when I signed up with my lovely agent, Mary C. Moore. It would be another year-and-a-half before I got my publication contract with Harper Voyager, and almost two years from the signing until the publication date — time in which I revised my novel yet again, working with my wise editor Priyanka Krishnan. 
 
So you see, we had to make quite a journey, Markswoman and I, before this book could see the light of day. All creative writing is like that — a journey without end, a learning that never ceases. But I think sometimes we can pause to take a breath, enjoy what we have written, and appreciate those who helped us get there. Please allow this debut novelist her moment of quiet delight before reality sets in, and I start panicking about revisions to the sequel. 
 
Congratulations, Rati! Readers, it’s time to jump in, pre-order your copy from one of these retailers: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Indiebound 
 
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