When I first heard about The Ivory Key I was so intrigued. I am a huge fan of sibling stories and so you know four estranged siblings coming together was my kind of story. And so when I was able to conduct this interview, I was so excited!
About The Ivory Key
Vira is desperate to get out of her mother’s shadow and establish her legacy as a revered queen of Ashoka. But with the country’s only quarry running out of magic–a precious resource that has kept Ashoka safe from conflict–she can barely protect her citizens from the looming threat of war. And if her enemies discover this, they’ll stop at nothing to seize the last of the magic.
Vira’s only hope is to find a mysterious object of legend: the Ivory Key, rumored to unlock a new source of magic. But in order to infiltrate enemy territory and retrieve it, she must reunite with her siblings, torn apart by the different paths their lives have taken. Each of them has something to gain from finding the Ivory Key–and even more to lose if they fail. Ronak plans to sell it to the highest bidder in exchange for escape from his impending political marriage. Kaleb, falsely accused of assassinating the former maharani needs it to clear his name. And Riya, a runaway who cut all family ties, wants the Key to prove her loyalty to the rebels who want to strip the nobility of its power.
They must work together to survive the treacherous journey. But with each sibling harboring secrets and their own agendas, the very thing that brought them together could tear apart their family–and their world–for good.
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Were there any pieces to the treasure hunting aspect (codes, puzzles, etc) which you wanted to use in THE IVORY KEY but couldn’t?
There was definitely a lot of research that didn’t make it into the book. This isn’t a puzzle exactly but one element of Indian history that I really wanted to try to include in some form was the treasure of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple. This is a temple in Kerala which has several vaults filled with extremely valuable items, and one of those vaults has never been opened!
Which of the siblings do you think you’re the most like and which was the hardest to write?
I put aspects of myself into all of them so it’s hard for me to pick just one I’m most like. But the hardest to write was definitely Ronak! For several entire drafts, his storyline was totally different and it took me a really long time to figure out what to do with him.
One of the thing I loved the most, was this idea of perception. Each sibling has these ideas about who they are and who their siblings are, can you introduce us a bit more to the four estranged siblings? What would be their music/movie/tv tastes?
Ah, thank you! I loved being able to showcase how each of them views themselves compared to how their siblings view them, especially as they go on their quest to find the Ivory Key. Vira is the maharani of Ashoka, and she’s looking for the Key to save her country. Riya is a runaway who wants to prove her loyalty to the rebels she joined. Ronak wants to sell the Key to escape an arranged political marriage. And Kaleb, who was wrongly imprisoned for murder, wants to use it to clear his name.
If they lived in our world, Ronak would be the most likely to love fantasy/adventure books and movies. Vira would probably claim she only watches serious dramas, but secretly she’d love angsty teen shows on The CW. Kaleb would love niche podcasts and historical documentaries. And I don’t know that Riya would watch a lot of TV or movies, but I could see her loving Phoebe Bridgers and Taylor Swift!
That ending though…can you give recommendations of books we should read until the sequel releases?
I’ve recently love Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan, The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith, and The Gilded Wolves trilogy by Roshani Chokshi!
What was the most challenging thing about writing THE IVORY KEY?
The hardest part weirdly enough was keeping track of time. The Ivory Key has so many characters doing different things in different locations that it took me multiple timelines and calendars to be able to make sure that the same amount of time was passing for each character in the chapters where they weren’t all together!
What would be your number one piece of advice you’d give yourself when you started writing?
Get to the end. Finishing something is more valuable than trying to get a story perfect the first time. You can fix it once you know what you’re working with and what you’re trying to accomplish.
What is your go to writing snack?
I’m not actually a big snacker but I usually have tea and water around whenever I’m working.
About Akshaya Raman
Akshaya Raman fell in love with writing when she wrote her first story at the age of ten. Though she graduated from UC Davis with a degree in biology, she gave up pursuing a career in science to write books. She is a co-founder and contributor to Writer’s Block Party, a group blog about writing and publishing, and has served on the planning teams of several book festivals. She lives in the Bay Area with an actual scaredy cat, and in her free time, she enjoys baking, traveling, and watching too much reality TV. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.