Title: The Star Host (Broken Moon #1)
Author Name & Publisher: F.T. Lukens (Duet Books)
Publication Date & Length: March 3, 2016 – 258 pgs
Ren grew up listening to his mother tell stories about the Star Hosts – a mythical group of people possessed by the power of the stars. The stories were the most exciting part of Ren’s life, and he often dreamed about leaving his backwater planet and finding his place among the neighboring drifts. When Ren is captured by soldiers and taken from his home, he must remain inconspicuous while plotting his escape. It’s a challenge since the general of the Baron’s army is convinced Ren is something out of one of his mother’s stories.
He finds companionship in the occupant of the cell next to his, a drifter named Asher. A member of the Phoenix Corps, Asher is mysterious, charming, and exactly the person Ren needs to anchor him as his sudden technopathic ability threatens to consume him. Ren doesn’t mean to become attached, but after a daring escape, a trek across the planet, and an eventful ride on a merchant ship, Asher is the only thing that reminds Ren of home. Together, they must warn the drifts of the Baron’s plans, master Ren’s growing power, and try to save their friends while navigating the growing attraction between them.
Once at the hangar, Ren broke away from the two guards and entered the lancer, walking up the stairs, irritation a heavy feeling in his chest.
“Reporting for work,” Ren said, his tone heavily laced with annoyance.
Janus popped up from a console she had been working under, goggles on her face, gray hair sticking up everywhere. “You!” she snapped. “I told you not to come back.”
Ren rolled his eyes. “It’s not my choice. I don’t want to be here anymore than you want me here.”
“Where are your guards? I told the dumb one not to bring you back, Abiathar’s orders be damned. I don’t want your kind working on these ships.”
She poked a finger hard into Ren’s chest and he staggered back, and rubbed his hand over the spot.
“What the stars do you mean by my kind?”
Her eyes grew comically large behind the goggles. “You don’t know?” She laughed, bordering on hysterical. “You’re more dangerous than I thought. You can’t try to control it if you don’t even know what you are.”
Ren frowned. His tolerance for the cryptic nonsense everyone had spouted since he arrived was gone. He took a step toward the hull and Janus stiffened.
“Don’t,” she barked.
“Don’t what? Touch it? What will happen, huh?”
Her face paled and her chest heaved with panicked breaths. “You don’t know what you’re capable of.”
Ren laughed. “I’m capable of nothing. I’m a duster, planet-born with very limited experience with tech. You have no reason to be frightened of me.”
He moved closer to the hull, hand outstretched, fingers splayed.
She whimpered. “Please, don’t.”
Ren slammed his hand against the hull, his fingertips leaving greasy marks on the shiny surface. As he predicted, nothing happened.
He turned back to Janus. “See? Nothing–”
His word tangled in his throat, cut off, because suddenly, Ren was consumed with power, rushing from his toes to his fingertips. A blue tint clouded his vision, and his body suffused with golden warmth.
And then he was floating amongst the wires, connected to the ship, to the energy source, to everything.
The lancer pulsed under his skin, tangling in his veins, its systems integrated with his senses.
It was freeing and frightening.
His consciousness raced along the circuits and he could fix it. He could fix everything. He found the tangle of wires in the artificial gravity system and bypassed it. He found the broken circuits in the air recyclers and with a pulse of power, refurbished them. He saw the static in the com system, a physical entity, and he cleared it away with a brush of his metaphysical hand.
The longer Ren floated through the ship, the less connected he was to his physical body. And if he thought about it, he didn’t need his body. Why would he need his body? He was free here. He moved around with ease, the wires and the systems his route, and the more he pushed, the more he felt the other ships too. They were nearby, on the edge of his perception, and he could go to those, he could jump to the other ones and repair them too.
Hi, everyone. This is F.T. and I’m here to talk about The Star Host, which is my debut novel. It is a science-fiction adventure which features a bisexual main character, and a diverse cast of characters. The novel follows, Ren and Asher, as they navigate political intrigue, a growing power, and their own relationship as they journey across planets, spaceships, and drifts.
1) How do you feel about e-books vs print books?
I love both. I think there is a place for both of them to exist. E-books are great in that I can fit several of them on my kindle and can take them with me anywhere.
They’re usually cheaper, and you can get them in an instant, which is great for me because sometimes getting to a book store is difficult. But I also love books. I have… well embarrassingly too many bookshelves in my home that are stacked full of books. And I keep adding to them. Sometimes, I really want to feel the weight of the book, smell the pages, and experience the story in that way. Another thing I love about physical copies is the fact I can write in them, and share them. I had a professor in college that introduced to me a great habit. When I finish a book, I write the date on the back page. If I do a reread, I’ll add that too. It’s a fun thing to do to document and to compare your perceptions of the story from date to date. For books that I really love, I have an ebook copy and a physical copy.
2) What process did you go through to get your first book published?
Actually, this is an interesting story. I had followed Interlude Press since their inception. And I was really intrigued about their model and how they worked with their authors. When they announced they were going to have an open submission period, I knew I wanted to have something to send into them. I wrote The Star Host over the course of four months. And I submitted it in June. I received an email in August while I was at work. The first line was a rickroll because it totally read like a rejection letter. But the second line said they loved the book and wanted to talk. It was amazing.
As great as this story is, I don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression, that I wrote something on my first try and submitted it and it was accepted. That wasn’t quite the case. While I was waiting to hear back from Interlude, I talked with a few individuals in traditional publishing roles. A lot of the feedback was that the story wasn’t right for them, which is a common response to receive. But I did receive some feedback that said the romance between the two characters, Ren and Asher, should be changed – either to an unrequited romance, or to a bromance. It was disheartening to hear that, especially since I really am an advocate for diverse books and representation in young adult novels.
That said, I’m happy that The Star Host as found a home, and will be able to reach the audience it was intended for. I’m glad that indie publishers like Interlude exist, and are able to promote diverse stories when other avenues still feel resistant to them.
3) How do you find or make time to write?
This question is pretty much my life. I have a full-time job and three kids. I have to make time to write. I usually write very early in the morning after my kids have left on their buses and before I have to get ready for work. I also write very late at night, after everyone else has gone to bed. If I can squeeze in some writing on my lunch break, I do that as well. As you can guess, I drink a lot of coffee.
4) Name one person who you feel supported you outside of your family members?
I have a best friend who I met through fandom years ago. She’s always been supportive of my writing and she was so helpful when I was trying to crank out The Star Host in time to submit to Interlude. She was waving her pompoms of doom at me those whole four months. She also did my beta reading, which is one of the reasons the book was in any kind of shape to submit. I have to thank her so much. I also have quite a few friends on my private twitter timeline who I’ve known through various fandoms over the years. They were very helpful as well. Especially whenever I would tweet and the response would be “shouldn’t you be writing?”
5) Tell us about a book you’re reading now.
I am not reading anything right now because I’m scrambling to get some work done currently. But, I am so excited to get my hands on Kings Rising, the third in the Captive Prince series. I want to read that book so much, but I want to do a reread of the first two before I read it.
F.T. wrote her first short story when she was in third grade and her love of writing continued from there. After placing in the top five out of ten thousand entries in a writing contest, she knew it was time to dive in and try her hand at writing a novel.
A wife and mother of three, F.T. holds degrees in psychology and English literature, and is a long-time member of her college’s science-fiction club. F.T. has a love of cheesy television shows, superhero movies, and science-fiction novels—especially anything by Douglas Adams.