Please join us in welcoming author Sunny Moraine to TNA today, on the tour for their new novel, Sword and Star. Enjoy Sunny’s guest post, and then be sure to check out the giveaway details below.
And now, here’s Sunny.
Welcome to the SWORD AND STAR blog tour!
SWORD AND STAR is the conclusion of a trilogy I started (with my co-author for LINE AND ORBIT Lisa Soem) over a decade ago. It’s been a long, strange journey and now it’s over. It’s not the first book trilogy I’ve finished, but it’s certainly the closest to my heart.
It’s been amazing getting to know this world and these characters over the course of three books, and it’s been even more amazing getting to share it all with readers. Adam Yuga and Lochlan d’Bideshi’s story is done, Eva Reyes and Kyle Waverly have found their own conclusion, Kae and Leila’s part in this tale is over (though you’ll see those two again in the forthcoming LINEAGE), and I’ve bid a fond farewell to the Bideshi seer Nkiruka. Goodbyes are never easy, but when you arrive at a good one, it’s immensely satisfying.
I’m so grateful to everyone who’s traveled with me, and just as grateful to the people coming to the story now. Whatever category you fall into, I hope you’ll find this final volume a fitting end.
Thank you for being here!
Something I’ve been asked more than once, when people have come to me for writing advice, s how to do good villains.
I think writing villains is no easy task (I’m very flattered that anyone thinks I’ve written them well enough to imagine I could provide worthy advice on how to do so). Villains are almost always the ultimate core of the story’s conflict, the catalyst for the narrative’s action. Villains aren’t at all necessary as a plot driver, but if you’re going to have one, they’re worth putting some real thought and attention into.
My impression is that one of the reasons why they can be so difficult is that it’s easy to make evil very simple. You have a villain who is bad because they’re bad, and their primary function in the story is to do bad things because – again – they’re bad. That’s easily grasped, and not very hard to write. It makes sense to go that route.
The problem is that basically no one like that actually exists.
Stories might be fictional, but they still need to feel true. They need to feel like things that could happen (aliens and space magic notwithstanding), otherwise you probably won’t be able to enjoy them, because you won’t be able to believe in them. So obviously characters need to think and feel and behave in ways that make sense for real people to do, and hardly any bad person started out that way.
The thing about bad people is that even if they know on some level that they’re bad, they don’t want to know it. All too often their intentions are good, even if both the means and the end are terrible. In their own stories, the ones they tell themselves, they’re the (misunderstood) heroes. The people trying to stop them are the real villains.
That also means that a good villain has to be at least somewhat sympathetic, even if they’re monstrous.
When I (and my co-author in LINE AND ORBIT, book one of this trilogy) sat down to figure out who our primary villains would be, one of the first things we nailed down is what they wanted to do and why – probably the most important thing. And the thing about both of the primary villains of the Root Code trilogy is that from their own perspective, they’re trying to save their civilization. The horrible things they do are necessary sacrifices, and even if they know they’re doing horrible things, that horror is justified in the service of a greater end.
So I tried to place myself in these villains’ shoes and imagine how I would think and feel if I was that person, and how the logic of that mind would make me behave. What choices I would be pushed into.
And this – in my opinion – is one of the final important things about a good villain: ultimately they’re utterly tragic. They’re villains because something went terribly wrong. In a sense they’re almost victims of themselves. That doesn’t necessarily justify anything they do, but it makes sense of it.
When it makes sense, people believe it. So then you have a good villain, and the rest of your story will work even better.
I’m proud of Isaac Sinder, the primary villain of SWORD AND STAR. In a twisted way, I really enjoyed writing him. So I hope you enjoy reading about him, as awful as he is.
Maybe even because he’s so awful.
About Sword and Star
Three months after a brutal battle at Peris, Adam Yuga, Lochlan D’Bideshi, and their rebel fleet are embroiled in a new conflict. But things aren’t going well. Even with Lock’s homeship, Ashwina, at the head of the fleet, the Protectorate forces are adapting to their tactics. Before long, two devastating blows send the ragtag rebels on the run. But the greatest threat may come from within.
Since the battle at Peris, Protectorate loyalist Isaac Sinder’s determination to eliminate the rebel fleet has only intensified—along with his ambition. The Protectorate is decaying, and it’s clear to Isaac that only he can save it, by any means necessary.
As the situation worsens for the rebels, the strain begins to tell on everyone. But more than exhaustion grows within Adam. Something alien has started to change him. Lochlan fights to hold on, but even he may not be able to follow Adam down the dark road ahead.
As Isaac’s obsession turns to insanity, it becomes evident that more sinister plans than his are at work. Bound together by threads of fate and chance, Adam and Lochlan turn their eyes toward a future that may tear them apart—if they’re lucky enough to survive it at all.
About the Author
Sunny Moraine’s short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Nightmare, Lightspeed, Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, and multiple Year’s Best collections, among other places. They are also responsible for the novels Line and Orbit (cowritten with Lisa Soem), Labyrinthian, and the Casting the Bones trilogy, as well as A Brief History of the Future: collected essays. In addition to authoring, Sunny is a doctoral candidate in sociology and a sometimes college instructor; that last may or may not have been a good move on the part of their department. They unfortunately live just outside Washington DC in a creepy house with two cats and a very long-suffering husband.
To celebrate the release of Sword and Star, Sunny is giving away a signed copy of the book and a handmade necklace. Leave a comment to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 28, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!