Welcome to my stop on the TBR and Beyond Tours Book Tour for The Stars in Their Eyes (The Broken Stars #1) by Kristy Gardner. This cover immediately drew my attention (hello beautifully galaxy forest!). This sounds right up my alley too – lots of queer rep, horror with cults and aliens! How could you NOT be curious about this one at this time of year?! I was lucky enough to get an interview with the author, Kristy Gardner, which you can find after the author and book info below. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to see the tour schedule for other content creators.
Kristy Gardner is a queer sci-fi fantasy writer.
Her debut queer dark sci-fi novel, THE STARS IN THEIR EYES, is coming October 18, 2022.
Furnished with degrees in Gender Studies and Sociology, she crafts complex female characters that adventure through space, time, and emotional maelstroms questioning what identity – and home – really mean.
Her debut novel, THE STARS IN THEIR EYES, comes out October 2022. She is also the author of the award-winning cookbook, COOKING WITH COCKTAILS.
When she’s not jet-setting words on her laptop, she’s chasing stars, mountain adventures, belly laughs, coffee, big dog cuddles, and planning her next trip to SE Asia. She resides in Vancouver, B.C., with her partner and 90-pound rescued American Bulldog, Riley.
She is represented by Julie Gwinn at The Seymour Agency.
About The Book
Title: The Stars in Their Eyes
Series: The Broken Stars #1
Author: Kristy Gardner
Publisher: City Owl Press
Publishing Date: October 18th, 2022
Page Length: 320
Genre: Science Fiction | Horror
Age Range: Adult
Rep: Queer, Bisexual, Pansexual, Lesbian
The stakes were clear after the Change – survive together, or die.
Calay and Tess’s love has kept them alive four years after the aliens decimated Earth. But when Calay finds herself fighting for her life and Tess missing, she hears death knocking. Banging, really. She has nothing. Scraps for food, the clothes on her back, no safe place for respite. And yet, she is determined to risk it all to reunite with the one woman she has ever loved. She only has one choice: she must find Tess.
Reluctantly, Calay braves the new nightmares of a ravaged Pacific Northwest, alone. Thrust into the darkness, she is haunted by horrors beyond her imagination — alien executioners, a mysterious man whom she can’t quite put her finger on, the rise of a sinister cult, and a shocking family secret that challenges everything she thinks she knows.
As the lines between good and evil blur, Calay’s desperation threatens to spill what’s left of her humanity. Her heart smeared across her tattered sleeve, she is pulled deeper into the madness of a world that has become kill or be killed. Calay realizes she must deny her feral instincts and resist becoming a monster herself, confronting her demons as share stares down the barrel of a terrifying truth: she may actually be forever alone. Time is running out and she knows it. Her only hope is to become who she is truly meant to be and unify with the love of her life once and for all. But, at what cost?
To survive, Calay must choose between the unthinkable: give up, or give ‘em hell.
Fans of Falling Skies, Wilder Girls, or The Walking Dead will love this queer sci-fi horror love story!
Content Warning: Alcohol, animal death, intense emotions: anxiety grief depression, sexual harassment, moderately explicit sex scene, homophobia/biphobia, gore, cheating, death of a loved one, murder
In up to 9 words or emojis, without spoilers, what can readers expect from The Stars in Their Eyes?
What inspired the story of The Stars in Their Eyes? Did you have the entire story planned out or did it grow as you wrote it?
I hit my pain threshold and needed an outlet. Or therapy. Probably both. Haha…
Actually though, I didn’t realize I was writing my own history. It’s a book written out of fear, loneliness, and above all else, love. When I started writing this book, I’d spent the better part of a decade neglecting my needs and stuffing my voice deep down inside to the point where I became emotionally paralyzed. For most of my life I was living two selves at once: the one the world demanded I be, and the one who was curled up inside, screaming to get out.
Tbh, I’m still on that journey. It wasn’t until I started to break free of those patterns, starting with this book, that I began to heal. Seven years later I’m putting me back together, piece by piece. And a big part of that process was writing The Stars In Their Eyes and Calay’s journey to reunite with Tess. I plan before I write. Thoroughly. I start with an idea in my notes app or journal. This turns into a white board, which evolves into a detailed outline. Then I break that down on color-coded chapter cards, detailing every beat in the scene. THEN, I transfer everything over to my writing software. When I start to actually write, I know exactly where I’m going with the story and that all the threads connect. Of course, this evolves as the characters reveal themselves, but the overall structure and major plot points usually stay the same.
Without spoilers, which scene did you have the most fun writing?
The scenes where Calay has a major revelation – a big s-turn in her journey, were the most fun. I can’t say what they are because I don’t want to ruin the surprises for anyone, but I loved watching her evolve in the face of adversity. I also die a little (in a good way) when readers send me messages on Instagram or an email telling me how much their minds are spinning along with Calay’s. Long after I’ve accompanied her on her journey, many times over, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
As a queer writer, do you believe it’s important to share LGBTQIA+ experiences, especially in speculative fiction genres like scifi, fantasy, horror, etc.? Do you have any advise for authors who want to including LGBTQIA+ rep in their book?
Absolutely. Spec fic has historically been a cis-white, straight male space. In the larger eco-system of our society and the issues surrounding who gets a voice/visibility/personhood, that isn’t breaking news. But it’s a little shocking in the genre since spec fic already asks the question, “what if?” … What IF the landscape becomes more inclusive of diverse voices?Sharing LGBTQIA+ experiences in these genres (or any genre) makes more people feel seen. Loved. Validated. Human. It makes us kinder. More empathetic. It makes us a better species. The way we tell stories in speculative fiction is changing and with it, the way we explore and understand sci-fi, fantasy, and horror… The way we explore and understand ourselves.
My only advice for authors wanting to include these stories in their books is to write the truth. If you’re LGBTQIA+, write from your experience. If you aren’t, but you still want to include LGBTQIA+ characters, make sure you have sensitivity readers to read your story to avoid perpetuating cliches, stereotypes, or other harmful ideas. I don’t think we need to be queer to write queer stories, but we’re at such an important juncture culturally. With folks fighting for their fundamental rights as humans to exist peacefully, our stories do need to be honest. Even if they’re brimming with aliens and hellfire.
You’ve published, a cook book, Cooking with Cocktails: 100 Spirted Recipes. Can you tell us how publishing The Stars in Their Eyes compared/differed from publishing a cookbook? Also, what was your favourite recipe in your cook book to create?
I eat a lot more cereal this go around, haha… The process is different. With Cooking With Cocktails I developed and tested all the recipes, styled, shot, and edited the photos, and wrote the front matter. So the process is different and I have a lot less leftovers to give to the neighbors.
The overall publishing process is surprisingly similar though. Lots of writing. Lots of re-writing. Lots of red marks all over your manuscript from your editors. It’s great. I haven’t gotten my hands on a physical copy of The Stars In Their Eyes yet, so I’m curious to see how the weight of that feels in my hands, in comparison to the cookbook. The dream of writing a novel is embedded in my earliest childhood memories – I expect it’ll be pretty surreal.
For recipes… Oh mama, that’s like asking a parent to choose a favorite child… I can do that. Here’s a sampling.
- Moscow Dark & Stormy
- Mint Cucumber & Smoky Jalapeño Margaritas
- Red Wine Chorizo with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes & Fresh Herbs
- Sparkling Rosé Roquefort Wedge Salad
- Cuervo & Tacate Pork Carnitas
- Maple Whiskey-Laced BBQ Meatballs
- JD Mac & Peas
- Apple Cider Pound Cake
- 3-Way Boozy Ice Cream
- Bourbon Soaked Cherries
Do you have any book recommendations to the reads who loved The Stars in Their Eyes?
If you like my book, you’ll probably already be a fan of The Walking Dead, Wilder Girls, or anything by Becky Chambers. If not, check them out. A few of my recent favorite dark and twisty books with queer rep have been What We Harvest by Ann Fraistat, The Seep by Chana Porter, Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Hutchings, and The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean. I know I’m forgetting some (please forgive me) and holy bananas, it’s a good time to be a queer dark fiction reader!