Author Spotlight: Alechia Dow talks THE SOUND OF STARS
I'm so excited to welcome Alechia Dow on today's blog! Alechia is a former pastry chef, food critic, culinary teacher, and Youth Services librarian. When not writing YA sci-fi featuring determined black girls (like herself), you can find her having epic dance parties with her daughter, baking, mentoring, or taking teeny adventures around Europe.
THE SOUND OF STARS is Alechia's debut novel. Named one of BookRiot's “Most Anticipated Queer Read of 2020”, THE SOUND OF STARS is out now with Inkyard Press!
Check out the synopsis and full interview below.
Don’t miss this spectacular debut novel… Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity? This road trip is truly out of this world! A beautiful and thrilling read for fans of Marie Lu and Veronica Roth.
Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.
Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. With humans deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, emotional expression can be grounds for execution. Music, art and books are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.
Born in a lab, M0Rr1S was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for the love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.
Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while creating a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.
Hi, Alechia! Welcome and congrats on the release of The Sound of Stars. I love how Ellie and M0Rr1S bond over a shared love of art and the desire to preserve it. Can you share a little about the story and what inspired it?
The Sound of Stars was that book that just felt right to write. I'd just shelved two books I wrote, and then, out of nowhere, I was inspired by the idea of a secret, illegal library. Which got me to thinking, why is it illegal? And then, over the course of a long walk, it evolved into a story about a rebel librarian and an alien who loves music. This is often how my mind works, one minute I have a fragment of an idea, and the next, it's a full-fledged plot bunny that I tend to follow on the page!
There’s a pretty epic road trip in The Sound of Stars! Do you have any tips for balancing humor and high stakes?
Ooooo that’s a good question. I think when you’re writing a book with a lot tension and action, you need to remember to slow it down and let the characters breathe. Sometimes that’ll look like silliness just for the sake of levity in a tense situation, sometimes that’ll look like a moment of singing and dancing in the aisles of an abandoned grocery store. It helps to see your characters as real; they’ll act their age, and they’ll care about things that have nothing to do with the plot at certain moments. They’re real and flawed and human, and we have to let them be that way in order for their story to resonate.
I’m a firm believer in the idea that every story teaches the writer something new, so what did writing The Sound of Stars teach you?
You’re so right, every story teaches the writer something new! With The Sound of Stars, I learned I could write my favorite genre (science fiction) in a way that allowed me to slow down in places, focus on characterization, and enjoy the sweetness between Ellie and Morris. The Sound of Stars taught me how to write better books, honestly. And I feel like, since then, since going through the editing process of a draft to a polished book that’ll be on shelves (soon ahhh!!), I have a stronger voice and I’m more confident about how I want to tell stories.
In addition to being an author, you’re also an amazing pastry chef and a youth services librarian. How have these other careers impacted/informed your writing?
Oh goodness, being a librarian and pastry chef has shaped so much of my writing! All of my characters cherish the books that impacted their lives, and mention reading as an important pastime they do for fun! And there’s always food, whether it’s a can of baby carrots or a jar of peanut butter to discussions about ramen and doughnut shops in the city… Food can always be found in my books. Since The Sound of Stars, I’ve written food fantasies/scifi, which doesn’t sound like a real genre, right? But hopefully I’m going to make it one!
And finally, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in your publishing career?
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else and JUST KEEP WRITING. Rejections will come and they’ll make you doubt yourself, your writing, and your future…but if writing makes you happy and you have a story you want to share with the world, please write it. There’s so much in the publishing industry you can’t control, but the one thing you can do is write.
Thank you so much for featuring me on your blog!!!
Many thanks go out to Alechia for taking the time to tell us more about the inspiration behind THE SOUND OF STARS, as well as for sharing some of the lessons she's learned so far in her publishing journey. Be to sure to add Alechia's heartfelt sci-fi to your Goodreads list, or (better yet!) order your copy (WRITE) NOW from retail sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or request it at your library, or local independent bookstore!
And, as always,