Welcome friends to my fourth author interview as a part of my Novel19 Class! This year I wanted to do something to help boost new author voices and stories, and this is a project that I am really excited about! For more information about my Novel19 Class and the other five books that I’ve chosen, please check out my announcement post.
“I wrote Tarnished for the teen version of myself who didn’t know she could be aromantic, asexual, and also queer; I wrote it for the version of myself who existed while I was writing the book–so afraid of my own identity and of writing it wrong; and I also wrote it for the version of myself I hadn’t met yet, the version that exists now who is confident in her identity and proud to have written about it. Identity is a journey, not a destination, and this book made this leg of the journey possible. I hope it helps others on their own identity journeys and makes them feel like they belong.”
Today I am so excited to have Rosiee Thor on the blog to talk about her YA science fiction debut, Tarnished are the Stars, which will hit bookstores on October 15, 2019!
An Interview with Rosiee Thor
Hi Rosiee, thank you so much for joining me on the blog today to talk about your debut novel! Can you share a little bit about Tarnished Are the Stars and how this story came to be?
Thanks for having me! Tarnished Are The Stars is a book that’s much closer to my heart than I ever thought it would be. It’s a story about three teens who must learn to trust one another despite their differences in the face of a deadly epidemic and a classist social structure. But it’s also about self-acceptance and identity–my own as much as the characters. All three of the main characters are queer, and each of them shares a piece of their identity with me. While this book didn’t start out as a reflection of myself, it has come to be something much more personal than I ever could have planned.
You previously mentioned that the book features a heart-stopping queer romance. What kind of queer representation will readers find in Tarnished Are the Stars?
Oof. Did I really say “heart-stopping queer romance?” Guess I was committed to the pun lol!
You did and no one can doubt your commitment to
Sparkle Motion the pun!
Tarnished Are The Stars has an all queer main cast. Anna and Eliza are both Sapphic (and they have a bit of a “kiss or kill” type of romance) while Nathaniel is both aromantic and asexual.
For aspiring authors, can you share a bit about what the process was like from inception to publishing? What made you choose to traditionally publish with Scholastic over indie publishing?
Tarnished went through eleven full rewrites from inception to publication. That means I rewrote the book–beginning to end–eleven times before it made it to print. This book has seen many different forms, most of them bad, but I’m proud of the journey this book took me on. I think one of the key things to remember as an aspiring author, and something I wish I’d known, is that no draft is ever wasted. Even if you scrap the whole thing, you still wrote the book and did the work to make it better. All writing takes you closer to the finished product, and all writing is practice that makes you a better writer.
I chose traditional publishing initially because I didn’t really know there were other options. While self-publishing is something I’ve always known about, it never seemed very attainable, since there’s a lot of non-writing work that needs to go into that path that I wasn’t prepared to do. The kinds of grassroots self-promotion and marketing required demand a certain skillset that I just didn’t want to spend the time cultivating. I admire anyone who is successful with self-publishing; they hustle like no one else. Aside from that, being traditionally published has always been a dream of mine, and as a Super Goal Oriented person, when I set out to do something, that’s it–I do it, even if it takes forever. I’ve always known traditional was the route I wanted to go, and if Tarnished didn’t get me there, I was always prepared to write something else if I had to. Luckily, Tarnished did get me there, and I’m writing something else anyway because that’s just how it works
Tarnished Are the Stars looks like a truly genre-bending read with a blend of science fiction and fantasy elements, jam-packed with action and intrigue. How did you manage to pack it all into a 384-page standalone, and what made you decide to write a standalone instead of a series?
Well, first of all, the book hasn’t always been only 384 pages long. I turned in a much longer draft to my editor earlier in the revision process and his directive was, essentially, cut 10k words but also add three more subplots. So at one stage this book was nearly 110k words long, and I ended up cutting almost 20k words to trim it down to size. I will say, I’m not particularly heartbroken about anything we lost. While cutting words is always tricky, I think this made the book tighter and it forced me to be really choosy about my prose. In the long run, it made me a better writer and it made Tarnished a better book.
As far as writing a standalone, I did actually have a sequel idea at one point, but with the revisions I did for Tarnished, those ideas don’t make a lick of sense anymore. Honestly, I’d be open to writing spinoff books like a prequel or a sequel, but I’m also happy with where Tarnished ends. I love the characters and the world and I’d love to write about what happens next, but I don’t need to, and I think that makes all the difference.
That is really interesting insight into how a project evolves over time, and I think it is great that you could write more but don’t necessarily need to.
The clockwork medical technology for some reason brings Repo! The Genetic Opera vibes to mind, only in your debut the underground technology is against the rule of the Commissioner rather than a capitalistic play life extension. Can you give us a hint as to the tyrannical stance against this technology?
In Tarnished, all post-industrial technology is banned as part of an attempt to preserve the planet’s life. The story takes place after the earth apocalypse and it’s born out of sort of radical preservationist ideology as warped by a more fascist government regime. It’s the best of intentions gone the worst of executions. The Commissioner is that… executioner, for lack of a better term. He’s cold and critical and IRL he’d probably be good buddies with Mitch McConnell.
*snorts coffee up nose* I think that comparison tells us all we need to know about The Commissioner.
Are there any illustrators who you’d love to draw your characters? Has fanart emerged yet?
God I would be thrilled to see literally any fanart of Tarnished. Artists do incredible work, and seeing my characters come to life is an absolute dream! As for fanart in existence, Kat Hillis did some amazing work creating character cards for my preorder campaign. While she had some direction from me, these were actually originally born from her initial reading of the book, and I have to say she absolutely nailed it. I love how she captured not only the physical appearance of these characters, but also their attitudes!
Character artwork by Kat Hillis and shared in this post with permission.
✨ You can check out Rosiee’s Twitter to learn a bit about each of these characters! ✨
Do you have any favorite releases this year that you can’t get out of your head?
I will never ever stop shouting about Wilder Girls by Rory Power! Wilder Girls really allows its girls to be messy in a way not many books about sapphic teens do. They’re complicated and desperate and, for lack of a better term, wild. I loved every second of that book–although I’ll admit I had to hide it from myself sometimes when I got too scared.
Who did you write Tarnished Are the Stars for? If you had to compare your debut to any other book, what would it be and who definitely shouldn’t miss this book?
As cheesy as it might sound, I wrote Tarnished for myself. I wrote it for the teen version of myself who didn’t know she could be aromantic, asexual, and also queer; I wrote it for the version of myself who existed while I was writing the book–so afraid of my own identity and of writing it wrong; and I also wrote it for the version of myself I hadn’t met yet, the version that exists now who is confident in her identity and proud to have written about it. Identity is a journey, not a destination, and this book made this leg of the journey possible. I hope it helps others on their own identity journeys and makes them feel like they belong.
About the Book
The Lunar Chronicles meets Rook in this queer #OwnVoices science-fantasy novel, perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer and Sharon Cameron.
A secret beats inside Anna Thatcher’s chest: an illegal clockwork heart. Anna works cog by cog — donning the moniker Technician — to supply black market medical technology to the sick and injured, against the Commissioner’s tyrannical laws.
Nathaniel Fremont, the Commissioner’s son, has never had to fear the law. Determined to earn his father’s respect, Nathaniel sets out to capture the Technician. But the more he learns about the outlaw, the more he questions whether his father’s elusive affection is worth chasing at all.
Their game of cat and mouse takes an abrupt turn when Eliza, a skilled assassin and spy, arrives. Her mission is to learn the Commissioner’s secrets at any cost — even if it means betraying her own heart.
When these uneasy allies discover the most dangerous secret of all, they must work together despite their differences and put an end to a deadly epidemic — before the Commissioner ends them first.
About the Author
Rosiee Thor began her career as a storyteller by demanding to tell her mother bedtime stories instead of the other way around. She lives in Oregon with a dog, two cats, and four complete sets of Harry Potter, which she loves so much, she once moved her mattress into the closet and slept there until she came out as queer. Tarnished Are The Stars is her first novel.
Thank you so much, Rosiee, for taking the time to chat with me about your debut novel! Words cannot express how wonderful it has been to chat with and get to know Rosiee over the last several of months, and I am really looking forward to her book hitting the world (and my pre-ordered copy arriving)!
Thanks so much for reading, friends! What do you think about The Tarnished Are the Stars? Is this a book that is on your TBR, or have you read it yet? I’d love to chat with you in the comments below.
Let’s go on another adventure together!