One of the best parts of talking to authors is getting to hear about new books and the history that comes along with them! This interview with Emily Layne, author of Of Starlight and Bone, taught me so much not just about her fantasy series, but about the Roanoke Colony, using music to brainstorm, and writing entirely new worlds! I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I do, and make sure to check out Of Starlight and Bone when it comes out this fall!
Jocelyn: Your new book, Of Starlight and Bone, is coming out later this year. Can you describe it in your own words?
Emily: In one sentence: The mysterious Roanoke Colony from history—but in space.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Roanoke Colony, it was one of the original settlements in North America, but every colonist mysteriously disappeared. To this day, historians don’t know for sure what happened to them.
In Of Starlight & Bone, Aurelia Peri, a girl who is more cyborg than human, embarks on a mission that leads her to uncover a festering darkness lurking in her own galaxy. And it has a lot to do with a certain planet and a certain colony.
J: Aurelia is described as an outsider who’s fighting the system and doesn’t take no for an answer. How did you get inspiration for her character?
E: She really grew into a character on her own. After I got the original book idea, I started planning my characters. And a determined red-head with a big heart and need for justice came out of the ether!
J: Of Starlight and Bone is the first in a trilogy. What drew you to writing a 3-book series rather than a stand-alone novel?
E: I knew when I first came up with the idea for Of Starlight & Bone that a trilogy would be needed to fully tell the story. If you read the first book, I doubt you would be happy with the ending if it was a standalone!
J: I have to ask, what’s your favorite YA trilogy?
E: It’s not technically a trilogy anymore, but the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix has always been my favorite. It is a world I return to again and again. While equal parts terrifying and magical, the world he’s created in his books feels like home!
J: I love that you have a playlist for the book on your website! Are you someone who listens to themed playlists while writing to set the stage?
E: I don’t listen while writing—I would get too distracted! But I do listen while in the brainstorming/plotting phase of writing. It especially comes in handy while driving! I have gotten so many ideas while listening to my playlist behind the wheel!
J: What is your favorite part about writing?
E: I love getting lost in the story. There are moments when the outside world fades away and I’m really seeing through the eyes of my characters. Its an out-of-body experience and absolutely amazing.
J: Do you have a writing routine? What does it look like?
E: Some days are better than others! I’m a stay-at-home mom of two kids under three-years-old, so time to write is a precious commodity. I usually squeeze in an hour or two after they go to bed. Finding a rhythm has definitely been a challenge, but I’m getting there. Deadlines help!
J: How did you first get into writing? What inspired you to start writing?
E: I’m that stereotypical “writer origin story.” I loved telling tales ever since I was a kid. I started with Sailor Moon fanfiction before working my way to original books. It wasn’t until I graduated high school that I decided to pursue publishing seriously.
Once I started college, I found myself a little lost. I returned to my writing roots and decided to take it seriously and work until I was published. Twelve years later, here we are!
J: What authors have influenced your writing style? Which do you look up to?
E: In my early days, Meg Cabot (OG’s might remember her Jenny Carroll penname!) was a huge influence. Mostly because I devoured every YA book she published! These days I read more in the YA Fantasy/Scifi realm. I don’t specifically look up to any particular author. I love to read success stories of those who have dauntlessly pursued publication (indie or traditional)!
J: Of Starlight and Bone takes place in a fantasy universe. What steps did you take to create the world and make it feel real?
E: There was A LOT of planning involved. I broke the world down into categories and developed it from there. I determined the different planets, the lingo characters would speak, religion, even military rank! It was a lot of upfront work, but it paid off when the world easily unfurled around me while writing.
J: Who is the target audience for your writing?
E: My books all fall into the young adult category. My YA Paranormal Fantasy, These Wicked Waters, is the younger category (12-16 years old). Of Starlight & Bone is geared toward older readers (14-18 years old). Though I’m almost thirty and I read YA, so my books could really appeal to any age!
J: What draws you to the fantasy genre?
E: I absolutely love escaping into another world!
J: In 2019, you released another fantasy novel, These Wicked Waters. What is the biggest element that sets these two books apart in your mind.
E: The biggest difference is location. These Wicked Waters takes place in our world on a tropical island paradise (or so you think in the beginning). Meanwhile, Of Starlight & Bone occurs in another galaxy lightyears (and a thousand regular years) away.
J: You used Camp NaNoWriMo to start writing book two in the series. I LOVE NaNoWriMo but then November (or April, or July) rolls around and I feel too busy. How do you manage to stay focused and write so much in a single month?
E: Phew. It’s not easy! The biggest motivator, honestly, is the winner t-shirt. I’m a sucker for graphic t’s. So forcing myself to write every day, knowing that if I hit 50k I get a shirt at the end… I manage to make it!
J: Finally, can you tell everyone reading this where they should follow you to stay connected?
My home base is www.emilylaynebooks.com. There you can learn all about my books and uncover some fun extras (like the music playlist you mentioned!). You can also sign up for my newsletter to receive a free short story to get a taste of my writing. I’m also very active on Instagram/Facebook. You can find me there at @emilylanyne.books or Emily Layne Books