Anagha Ratish is twelve years old and can usually be found reading a book or scribbling away in her notebooks. She loves to write short stories but writing a novel is something she has always wanted to do. ‘Celestia Chronicles – Fire and Water’ is the first book in the ‘Celestia Chronicles’ series. When not absorbed in her books, Anagha juggles her time pursuing her other passions, ballet and music. She loves to learn new languages and has a flair for them.
TBE: Tell us a little about your story and the story world you’ve created in Celestia Chronicles: Fire and Water.
Anagha Ratish: Celestia was supposed to be a perfect world, with all of its strange powers and shimmering crystal halls. But the beauty hides the thirst for power that rages within the lands. Queen Zyra, the ruler of the fire-wielding pixies has shrouded her kingdom in mist and magic, and the barrier is seeping further into the other kingdoms. Adaire Quicksilver, a young human girl who stumbles into this strangely frightening world has to stop the queen, in a battle between good and evil, hope and fear; fire and water.
TBE: How did you come up with the title of your book and what is the significance of the title?
Anagha Ratish: It didn’t take me long to figure out the title of the book, once I started writing the story. By the time I came to the middle of the book, I knew that this would have to be a series. Since the story is set in Celestia, Celestia Chronicles seemed to be perfect. The symbolism of fire and water is evident in the story, as Queen Zyra controls fire and Adaire has water powers.
TBE: How this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else? Do you have the details in the story planned beforehand, or do you develop the story as you are writing it?
Anagha Ratish: This book started with a short story that I had to write for my English class in school. It was supposed to be a short story, but the plot just kept expanding and it turned into a full novel. I usually know what’s going to happen in each chapter, in broad strokes, but I change the specifics as I write.
TBE: In what ways can fantasy speak to reality?
Anagha Ratish: In my book, Adaire’s feelings of self-doubt and helplessness are very real, as well as Sapphire’s need to be in control at all times. This aspect is something I plan to cover more in the next book.
Characters & World Building – the joy of your book is often in the generosity of the detail, such as Celestia, the world of pixies, the characters of Adaire, the wicked queen Zyra, pixies like Sapphire and Faye. Which elements are you particularly pleased with?
To be honest, I was particularly pleased with Zyra’s character. Her elegance, cool indifference to everything, her morbid cheer; I often feel like these aspects have walked straight out of my mind, onto the pages of my book.
TBE: What are the differences in writing a novel set in an alternate modern day and writing a story in a fantasy landscape?
Anagha Ratish: Dystopia and fantasy are often very similar, but completely different at the same time. The difference is that dystopia is what could be, if the world were just a little different. You could recognize the real world, in the pages. Meanwhile, fantasy usually has some element of magic, or whimsy. Many themes and ideas from the real world are reflected in fantasy, but it is a little more cleverly disguised.
TBE: You have a way of creating determined female character who push hard for a particular goal. How did that idea end up being so important in your novel? What was the inspiration behind the character of Adaire?
Anagha Ratish: If Adaire hadn’t been stubborn, I doubt the story would have gone very far. Even though she is occasionally plagued by self doubt, she is reassured by the fact that main characters never fail. Let’s see how she fares with that by the end of the series **laughs evilly**. Nevertheless, Adaire is based on me, to some extent; more than the other characters, at least.
TBE: One of the things that distinguishes your book is how they have a solid sense of pacing – such good control of the flow of story. Is that something that was natural? How conscious are you of that?
Anagha Ratish: I think it is natural, as I never gave much thought to it, while writing the story. The only thing I’m conscious about, when writing, is whether the dialogue is forced. Otherwise, the story is not something I have full control over.
TBE: What is the source of your creative imagination?
Anagha Ratish: Reading books! I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, and this has certainly helped me with my writing. My mother used to tell me a new story every day, before bed, until I was about six or seven, so that also had some early influence.
TBE: In your view, who are the best fantasy fiction writers? And what are some must-read titles in your genre?
Anagha Ratish: It’s so hard to choose! Since my tastes change constantly, I might look back at this answer and say something completely different. But, at the moment, I admire Tahereh Mafi for her ‘Furthermore’ books, as well as Cassandra Clare for her ‘Shadowhunter Chronicles’.
TBE: Out of sheer selfish interest, when will we see a sequel to Fire and Water?
Anagha Ratish: I am in the process of writing it, but I think I’ll be done within the next couple of months.