First of all, allow me to scream about how absolutely glorious the title “Starganauts” is. It’s so amazing!! I love it. This book deserves to meet all success simply because of that name!!
I’m (also) excited to join the blog tour for C. E. Stone’s science fantasy novel “Starganauts”! The journey this book has taken to publication is an epic one in itself, as you will read below, and it’s absolutely wonderful to celebrate its release.
So without further ado, the interview! (I didn’t mean to rhyme there)
C. E. Stone and I sit down for a virtual cup of coffee…
Me: Tell us something about your book “Starganauts” and the series it’s part of.
C. E.: Starganauts is the first novel in my Christian space opera series of the same name. It follows a group of humans who survive an apocalyptic attack on Earth and crash-land on a faraway desert planet. All seems poised for disaster until they discover eight, mysterious orbs that transform them into superhuman warriors. The series is set in my fantastical space universe and (Lord willing) will span 12 books. Through relatable characters, I explore themes of faith, perseverance, good vs. evil, and what it means to truly follow Christ. My books are explicitly Christian, but not preachy.
Me: Do you have a favorite character? Theme? Scene?
C. E.: Yes to all three! Samantha Harris is my favorite character. She’s so much fun to write, she’s bilingual, and she’s actually a lot like my best friend. Confident, discerning, a bit impulsive, type-A, but very grounded in Jesus. My favorite theme from the book is how God builds beauty out of tragedy. I’ve seen this so much in my own life, as I went through the tragedy of discovering my husband has debilitating fibromyalgia. It makes life so difficult. But at the same time, God has brought great good out of the ashes of the life I thought I’d have. I pray Starganauts conveys that theme well.
My favorite scene from Starganauts is when Samantha receives a vision of the future. I drew inspiration from 1 Samuel, specifically as Samantha’s name is called mysteriously three times. She finally recognizes it’s God and answers, “I am here”—an ode to when God calls the prophet Samuel as a young boy and he answers, “Here I am.” The scene also shifts from the Starganauts’ shelter to Samantha’s vision of a glistening city to battles raging across the heavens to her (literally) walking among the stars. Plus, there’s SO many Easter eggs in this scene. You have no idea…lol!
Me: This book begins with the literal destruction of Earth… and goes on from there! Bold choice. What inspired it?
C. E.: An obscure movie is to blame…or thank?…for that decision. The movie Titan A.E. begins with the destruction of Earth and what the last survivors of humanity do after it. I was so fascinated by that concept that I took it and ran with it. Unlike Titan A.E., however, Earth is actually incinerated rather than destroyed. The initial attack of Starganauts is not a fulfillment of Revelation, and thus, Earth’s surface is only bare. Which I hope will leave room for intrigue, as I may revisit our home world in a future book. 😉
Me: You have said on several occasions that despite this extreme beginning, the ultimate feelings and goal of this book is hope. How does that manifest over the course of the story? What are some of the deepest and most beautiful realizations of that hope, for you the writer?
C. E.: It’s true that there is great loss initially, but hope manifests from the beginning in the form of Samantha. God uses her to assure the survivors that they have a purpose. Though they crash-land on a desert world, they all survive it. Then God grants Samantha a vision of a glorious future and they find the orbs, which will prove the key to everything. I don’t want to give away further spoilers, but my point is that God is always there. He walks beside them and provides a way when progress looks impossible. In the sequel and future books, you’ll see just how monumental the orbs and Starganaut forms prove to be.
The deepest realizations of the theme of hope come in the book’s last half. The reader begins seeing all the ways God has worked to preserve the team, prepare them, and provide for them. One character in particular experiences a dramatic transformation. I can’t say more without giving spoilers, so you’ll need to read it!
Me: Tell us a bit about the world-building that went into this series!
C. E.: I’m happy to, as I love world-building. Honestly, it’s been a lifelong process with Starganauts. I’ve been super creative since I could talk, so…it just comes naturally? I invented the initial world at the age of ten, building my main space mythos over seven years of Lego play. I acted out mock television episodes and even sorted my characters and stories into “seasons.” After that, I expanded the universe and its history by writing my standalone novel, The Sorcerer’s Realm.
Years later, I started writing down everything I could remember in a Word document titled “The Starmarillion” (Tolkien reference intentional!). I did this at the behest of my best friend M.H. Elrich. She knew about my fantasy universe, but when I started telling her about my space one, her eyes glazed over. She said, “You seriously need to write this down!” So I did, and that forms the basis for my Starganauts stories.
Me: If you could visit any place in this book, where would it be?
C. E.: Trylithia, hands down! It’s an alien world with a noble and ancient history. Its people are proud, if not currently corrupt. Though Trylitihia only makes a cameo, its region of Duskrealm is perpetually–twilit, with bioluminescent plants and animals everywhere. Mix that with the elegant Trylithian architecture, steeply towering mountains, and fields of glowing flowers and you’ve got a breathtaking landscape. The Trylithian people are blue-skinned and wear colorful clothes, and I’d love to experience their alien culture and sweet, native foods.
Me: Tell us a bit about the writing process of this book. How long did it take? Did you listen to music? What was the publishing journey like? (side note – I know that there were miracles along the way and I’d love to hear about them!)
C. E.: I began writing Starganauts in 2015, shortly after I married my husband. I composed the first draft in about eight months, typically writing in the mornings for a few hours. The actual process wasn’t hard. I had a blast updating my childhood storylines, and I’d written a lot of books previously, so it helped. After I finished Book 1, I began the sequel. I wrote Books 2 – 4 in the coming years. I’m not a fast writer and deadlines kill my creativity, so I wanted to have several books already done before pursuing publication. As for music, my top playlists were Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Zelda soundtracks. 😊
Publishing was a lot harder. Confidence in my writing abilities has been my Achilles heel. I was 26 before I started believing I could write decently, and then I stalled out of the publishing starting gate. I had always planned to go the traditional route, but the prospect of querying, writing synopses, and looking for an agent overwhelmed and terrified me. So, I asked God what I should do. Thankfully, I sensed the Holy Spirit replying that the Lord was pleased by my willingness to publish, but it wasn’t yet time.
A month later, my husband’s health began markedly declining. My life was consumed with caregiving, doctors’ appointments, and tracking down the cause of his mystery illness. You can read more about it in the post “Using my Pain to Write.” Anyway, at the beginning of 2020, I was just coming out of the worst of that chaos. I sensed God prompting me to submit Starganauts to a contest. My book didn’t make it, and the feedback I got was discouraging. Nevertheless, I kept at it. I took some of the judges’ advice and intensely edited my manuscript over much of 2020.
The contest feedback also made me realize that my style wasn’t popular or hip. I took steps to update it, but this influenced my decision to self-publish. However, I didn’t have a budget. I was forced to work full-time to support myself and my disabled husband, and I hate marketing and self-promotion. God nonetheless prompted me to step out in faith, continue editing, and trust Him to provide on all counts. I recall telling him it would take a miracle for my book to come out. That was September of 2020.
In December, I received an incredible gift from a relative. It FULLY FUNDED my publishing budget!!! At the same time, M.H. Elrich agreed to market for me in exchange for editing. I found a very affordable cover artist, and the Lord cleared my schedule so that I could finish editing Starganauts in March of this year. I had asked for a miracle, and God provided several! If you notice this phrase in the copyright page, “Soli deo Gloria,” that’s my way of thanking Him and acknowledging how Starganauts is a product of His miraculous guidance.
Me: One of the main characters shows up at your house for the afternoon! What do you serve them? What will you talk about?
C. E.: Since I already picked Samantha, I’ll have Kaity Anderson over. She’s honestly the most like me. I’d serve her a smoothie and chocolate chip cookies. She gravitates toward cold drinks after her time on the hot desert planet nicknamed Sahara. And who doesn’t like chocolatey treats? I’d probably ask her all about her adventures and what it feels like to be a Starganaut. I could see us hitting it off pretty well, as we both enjoy long conversations. I’d also ask her what life is currently like, because I know where she ends up in the sequel. 😉
Kaity Anderson was a new bride on her wedding day. Samantha Harris was an engineer who had given up all to follow God.
Kaity’s reception is ruined when an alien gunship incinerates the surface of Earth. Rescued from the apocalypse by a strange prophetess, Kaity, her husband, and five others are drawn across the galaxy. While the prophetess promises God has a plan, Kaity grows increasingly desperate as their chances of survival—and water supply—dwindle.
Samantha didn’t ask to be God’s prophetess. Yet once she answers the call, the Spirit leads her to an inhospitable world with Kaity and several of Earth’s survivors. Hounded by the master of the gunship, the Earthlings search for water as their alien pursuers and dehydration close in. Only God’s promise of a future in a distant city gives Samantha any hope of survival. But could the answer to all their problems lie in eight, mysterious orbs? The discovery of these crystals will change their lives—and the destiny of galaxies—forever.Thus begins Starganauts, a clean, compelling Christian space opera adventure by C.E. Stone. Fans of Star Wars and Star Trek will enjoy this series that explores how God’s plan prevails, even against impossible odds.
Doesn’t that sound like a simply epic book!?
I received an ARC copy for review, and I’m really enjoying it (though I’ve had to go slowly, since the idea of the world getting incinerated is very anxiety-inducing for me, and yes, I’m a wimp). Fantastic ideas, cool settings, intriguing characters all over the place! I’ll post a review once I’m done 😀
Be sure to follow C. E. Stone to keep up with her series! Starganauts