Author Spotlight: Rosiee Thor talks TARNISHED ARE THE STARS
I'm so happy to welcome Rosiee Thor on today's blog! Rosiee 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.
Rosiee is a powerhouse writer and the gorgeous prose she has woven in TARNISHED ARE THE STARS swept me away! Check out the synopsis below, and click here to read an excerpt.
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.
Praise for Tarnished are the Stars
"A stunning debut by a brilliant new voice in YA, breaks your heart and fixes it again in all the best ways.” Beth Revis, New York Times-bestselling author of Across The Universe
“Tarnished Are The Stars has everything my heart’s been craving: rich world building, gorgeous writing, and a cast of queer characters getting the adventure they deserve. A stunning debut by a talented author who has only just begun.” Kass Morgan, New York Times-bestselling author of The 100
“A heart-wrenching tale about found families, tender friendships, and a trio of characters you can’t help but love.” Linsey Miller, author of the Mask of Shadows duology
And now, here's my chat with Rosiee!
Hi, Rosiee! Welcome and congrats on Tarnished Are the Stars. Can you tell us a little about the story and what inspired it?
Thanks for having me, Megan! Tarnished Are The Stars is about three teens who come together from very different social spheres to solve a medical mystery. It stars a mechanic on the run from the law, the nobleman trying to catch her, and a spy sent to interfere in planetary affairs. When they discover a deadly epidemic and a possible government conspiracy, they must set aside their preconceptions and choose to work as a team or risk losing each other--and the planet they call home. It’s always a little tricky for me to pinpoint exactly what inspired Tarnished. It was 2013 when I first set pen to paper on this story, and I honestly couldn’t tell you what the initial spark was. This book has gone through so many different drafts, and with each draft, the pieces that bring me joy and draw my focus change. I’d say in the end I was really inspired by the way relationships within the queer community create a sense of family. I’ve always loved the found family trope, and in Tarnished I was delighted to explore how those kinds of intense relationships can truly make a community for people who otherwise have none.
I loved the sci-fi/steampunk mashup in Tarnished Are the Stars ! It works so well, and I wonder, what was your world-building process like for this book?
It was a journey, let me tell you. I think I’ve always instinctively wanted to blend genres, which sure is an undertaking… In its first iterations, Tarnished was alternate historical fiction set during the industrial revolution. In another iteration, it was set in a dystopian colony. Now, it’s set planetside 800 years in the future, but with a distinctive historical vibe. Combining the future and the past required me to set very specific rules for myself, so that meant starting with the government and working out from there. I needed the world to have laws and boundaries to work within before I----or rather my little outlaw mechanic--could break them. From there, everything else fell into place.
The POVs were so well crafted in Tarnished Are the Stars. Do you have any tips for authors looking to differentiate the voices of their POV characters?
I do! Writing distinctive POVs wasn’t something I did on purpose at first, especially since it began as dual POV and the third POV wasn’t added until after my book was acquired by Scholastic. When I added the third POV, I knew I needed to be more analytical about my process. I made a list for each of them with specific interests and keywords that applied to them. For example, Anna’s list included things like “wrench” and “cogs” whereas Elizas included things like “knife” and “fashion.” This, in the end, made it much easier to decide on the kinds of metaphors I would use depending on which character’s POV I was writing. Anna’s POV has a lot of metaphors to do with gears, cogs, medicine, and metal. Nathaniel’s tend to be more about rigidity vs. nature, so his are often about walls and buildings or trees and flowers. Eliza’s are all about sharp vs. soft, so she thinks in blade metaphors or fabric and color metaphors. Doing this exercise and deciding up front exactly where each of the characters would draw their vocabulary really helped me make each of them more distinct.
I'm a firm believer in the idea that every story teaches the writer something new, so what did writing Tarnished Are the Stars teach you?
Writing Tarnished was the biggest crash course in myself. When I started this book in 2013, I had no idea that I was queer. In 2015, I had an inkling I might be bisexual. In 2016, I’d decided I was bisexual. In 2017 I discovered asexuality, and in early 2018 I realized I was aromantic. All of these coincided with the development of Nathaniel’s identity in the book. With each draft, he got closer to me and I got closer to him until it clicked. Writing this book has been, at the core of it all, a journey of identity. It got me this far, and that makes it something I will always treasure.
What are you reading, or otherwise currently infatuated with?
I’m currently reading The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd Jones, which feels like if you smashed Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale with Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. It has the atmosphere and cultural significance of the first with the exciting zombie hunting of the second. Plus there’s a zombie goat, and if that doesn’t hook you, I don’t know what will.
And finally, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned (so far) in your publishing career?
The importance of life outside of publishing cannot be overstated. I’m the kind of person who really throws myself into my passions and just… never comes up for air, but when your passion becomes your career, it’s easy to let it consume you. Finding other things that bring me joy that aren’t directly responsible for my financial stability has been vital to a healthy balance with publishing--and honestly healthy is maybe a generous term for what I have right now, but it’s leagues better than where I was even just a few months ago. I build these things into my schedule as mandatory activities rather than procrastination methods, that way I can’t skip them or use them as avoidance techniques. It’s a little silly, but for someone like me, it’s absolutely necessary.
Many thanks go out to Rosiee for taking the time to tell us more about TARNISHED ARE THE STARS, for giving us her tips on writing distinctive POVs, and for sharing a bit about her personal journey as well. Be to sure to add this brilliant queer YA space opera to your Goodreads list, or (better yet!) order your copy (WRITE) NOW from retail sites like Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, or request it at your library, or local independent bookstore!
And, as always,