Publishers' Preview: Diverse Books: Five Questions for Sarwat Chadda

This interview originally appeared in the May/June 2023 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Diverse Books, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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The Fury of the Dragon Goddess is fearsome indeed when Sik and his allies (City of the Plague God) face ancient Mesopotamian gods and monsters in present-day London.

1. What would you do differently if you were immortal?

Take time to enjoy every single day, savoring its uniqueness, and make time for others. This sounds horribly noble, but I work alone and I miss people sometimes! That would also be the dark side of immortality, though: knowing those people will be gone, and I’ll still be around. I’m getting to that age where immortality, fine in principle, sounds so very lonely.

2. Most magical spot in London?

Waterloo Bridge, at night in the fall when there’s mist on the water and, when you look downriver, St. Paul’s Cathedral seems to be floating upon a cloud. Then, looking upriver, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, bathed in golden light. There’ll be a moment when you feel that if the mists parted in a particular way you would be somewhere else.

3. How’s your Sumerian?

Could be much better! I’ve been lucky to find experts who’ve helped me. Digital Hammurabi advised on translations and on the cuneiform text I’ve used in the book.

4. Who’s the scariest monster you’ve encountered in literature?

The Crooked Man in John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things. The book is pure twisted Wizard of Oz. The Crooked Man is the demonic Rumpelstiltskin. We read about him as kids and laughed at his antics, but I never really thought about the crooked little games he played with those children he stole.

5. Sik and his crew have conquered New York and London — where next?

I’d love to explore the Middle East — not just the usual places but get a bit off the beaten track. Visited Yemen many years ago, absolutely loved it. My writing becomes much more alive if I’ve got something real to base it on, so my tales are usually set in locations I know pretty well or can easily adapt. There’s something special about visiting a place with a story in mind. It makes you pause, rather than feeling compelled to rush from sight to sight just to tick them off the list. There is so much magic out there.

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Photo: Joel Meadows.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton

Editor Emeritus Roger Sutton was editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc., from 1996-2021. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his MA in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a BA from Pitzer College in 1978.

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