Today on the blog we have the pleasure of hosting badass author Maura Milan! Her debut novel, IGNITE THE STARS, is an action-packed adventure in SPACE, out September 4. Seriously, this book is as amazing as its cover! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below!
1. First of all, congrats on your debut novel! IGNITE THE STARS is such an awesome, action-packed story. Can you tell our readers a little bit about the book and its journey to publication.
Ignite the Stars is about a teenage space outlaw/legendary pilot who, after years of running, finally gets captured by the same government, who were also responsible for destroying her home planet. Because of her skills and knowledge, she’s thrown into a Star Force Academy where she is forced to train alongside the Commonwealth’s cadets.
Ignite the Stars wasn’t a fast sale. Actually, it wasn’t even called Ignite the Stars back then; I owe that amazing title to my editor and team at AW! Back then, it went through several titles. First, in the querying stage, it was called Genesis (which was the original name of the Star Force Academy before I changed it to Aphelion), and then it changed to The Pit Bull of The Skies, and during submission, it was making the rounds as Dark Star.
As far as the manuscript itself, it took me probably a year and half to write the first draft. I queried for about two months before I found my agent. With agent notes, that was another one to two to three months of revisions. It went on submission in March, and then sold around three to four months later. I’m extremely happy that the book ended up with my editor, Eliza; she KNOWS what my book is trying to do and totally helped make it a stronger story.
2. One of the aspects I loved most about IGNITE THE STARS was the multiple POVs of Ia Cōcha, Brinn Tarver and Knives Adams. How did you manage to juggle such three distinct voices?
Ia’s voice was always super clear to me, but I knew that I wanted to develop other characters who have very different world views than her. Brinn is a patriotic civilian who joins the Star Force because she completely believes in the Olympus Commonwealth. Whereas Knives grew up in a military environment, following the footsteps of his father, a celebrated General in the Royal Star Force. These three characters are interesting to me because they have very unique standpoints on the body of government that’s running the universe in which they live in. There’s someone who doesn’t agree with the government. someone who completely stands by it, and another character who is a bit more neutral but also starting to see the cracks. In a way, I wanted readers to empathize with all of those characters, to really understand why they believe what they are choosing to believe.
All three characters have elements of me in them. Ia is the person I aspire to be: a girl who will always stand up for what she believes in. Brinn is my high school self: a girl who is torn between two cultures and is struggling to accept her heritage. And Knives is more like the person I am today: a little bit cynical and scared of taking that inevitable big step into adulthood.
3. The friendship between Ia and Brinn was another favorite part of the book for me! What inspired you to include a strong female friendship in your novel?
For me, female friendships have often been as complicated and perhaps even more complex than romantic relationships. It’s hard to navigate friendships sometimes. You almost have to be more careful with how you handle your words and actions because there’s a very special kind of trust you have with this other person. I think friendships are interesting because it’s not as easy as saying “hey, we’re friends.” There’s a lot of great friendships that come in the most unexpected ways, and I wanted to show that with Brinn and Ia.
4. The sci-fi elements were all so cool! As were the politics, history & multiple settings – planets, space, and the Star Force academy. What was your process in building the world of IGNITE THE STARS?
I have to admit it was hard. Developing the characters is always my favorite parts of a story. So I started with them, and then I usually make the world around them. I asked questions like “In what type of world would these characters be enemies?” That is how I started off creating the boundaries of the world, the complex politics, and from that even more unique characters would spring into place. As for the naming systems, I got to a point where all of my made-up names sound so similar, so sometimes, I look at the names of Ikea furniture for inspiration.
5. Lastly, some fun questions. I know you’re a huge K-pop fan. (Note to reader: that’s how we became friends! Talking about BTS on twitter, lol). What K-pop song would you choose as the theme song for IGNITE THE STARS?
Block B – My Zone. The lyrics are all about going hard and flying high. It’s so Ignite the Stars.
I really love Block B, and I think their whole attitude is something Ia would be into.
6. Any favorite books from 2018 (or ones you’re looking forward to reading) – already released or upcoming?
Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton is a fierce feminist YA fantasy with a love interest who’s also a good cook! Yes, please. My eyes have been replaced by hearts, thank you very much!
Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian. I can’t wait for the sequel…because Berserkers!! and I’m just getting Fate/Stay Night flashbacks just by typing it!
I’m also very excited for Marie Lu’s Wildcard because I’m a gamer and that series understands me.
7. Any favorite anime or K-dramas from 2018?
Favorite anime – Violet Evergarden (I cried every single episode). I’m also enjoying the new season of Attack on Titan because Levi is a BOSS!
Favorite K-drama of 2018 – Something in the Rain. This show was a thoughtful depiction of a relationship between two adults who fall in love. There’s no secret heirs or characters who magically body swap. It’s a very a realistic romance, and I was all in.
Maura Milan received her BA in Film Production from USC’s School of Cinema-Television and currently lives in Los Angeles, where she works in video production. Ignite the Stars is her first novel.
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