I am so excited to share with you today some awesome news:
I’ve become a mind-combing alien.
That is, I’ve picked through Olivia A. Cole’s mind on her debut A Conspiracy of Stars, her inspiration, her writing process, and more!
So yes, I’ve basically become an invasive mind alien. Ye have been warned.
But, A Conspiracy of Stars was one of my favorite science fiction releases of the whole year (although there have been a ton of kick-ass ones so you can’t really make me choose), but I hands down loved it. I gave it 5 stars, the whole shebang, everything was just so wonderful with this book.
I loved the world building, I loved the plot, I loved the characters, and I am just so excited for book 2 to come out next year (oh! there’s also some secret book 2 info in this post too!). You can read my full review here if you are prepared for bunches of gushing.
But there’s just so much to love! Octavia discovers a conspiracy on her planet involving the alien race, the Faloii and the small human government in place, and she embarks on a search for the truth behind what’s really going on.
And so, when I got the chance to invade this YA author’s mind, I totally jumped for it. And here are the results of me testing my newly found extraterrestrial powers:
1. For the readers out there who are unfamiliar with A Conspiracy of Stars, do you mind describing it in the form of a haiku?
She knows only this:
Home, a place with a red sun
Air too hot to breathe.
Her future is set –
The possible paths too few –
Until secrets hatch.
Her people balance
Already on the brink of war…
She must pull them back.
2. I’ve honestly been wondering this for a while ever since I read A Conspiracy of Stars, but where did your inspiration for it come from? N’Terra seems like such a rich and diverse landscape with all sorts of wildlife (that can get quite vicious at times…).
I like to think that the inside of my head looks like Faloiv. I have always loved animals and the species on this planet came to my mind first. From there, I almost had to work backwards: if an animal had extremely large ears, for example, one use might be to use those ears to radiate body heat to stay cool. So I allowed the animals to inspire the landscape, letting their survival mechanisms shape the world of Faloiv. N’Terra, the humans’ research community on Faloiv, was harder: what did they have? What were their habitats made of? I’m big on closed-loop worldbuilding so a lot of where the inspiration “came from” was merely answering questions that I set up for myself within the plot.
3. If you could give one piece of advice to the main character Octavia, what would it be? She’s so rational (something uncommon in YA novels) and sometimes her flaws seem a little more obscure than other characters.
“Don’t be afraid to feel!” Octavia is so confined by her parents’ (particularly her father’s) ideas of who she’s supposed to be that she is way out of touch with who she is and what she wants. I think obscure is the right word for her: she buries herself behind logic. I’ve heard criticism of ACOS in which Octavia is described as unrealistically rational but one of my closest friends is like this: reason and rationality are her body (and soul) armor. Octavia thinks if she can organize her life into a checklist she can be happy. She’s afraid of emotion – something her father has convinced her is a weakness and a flaw – but if she allowed herself to break loose she would be even more powerful.
4. As far as writing goes, because I know there’s definitely some aspiring authors reading this, what do you consider as vital to your “process”? What items would you include in your writer survival kit?
The number one thing that’s vital to my writing process is my husband. Every book I’ve ever written has started with me talking his ear off about this idea I have: something about him gets my ideas flowing. But I know that’s not very helpful to aspiring authors so I will translate it as this: sometimes having not just a writing buddy but a talking-through-it buddy can be incredibly helpful, especially in revisions. Worldbuilding can get complicated and having someone to talk about your world to (who might ask questions or notice inconsistencies) is priceless. As far as my survival kit…”poppable” food, that is, food that can be easily popped in the mouth. There are these little pretzel bite thingies with peanut butter in them that I will crunch on for hours while I’m writing. It’s not healthy. At all. But writing requires fuel!
5. And for your readers who have already devoured A Conspiracy of Stars and are waiting for book 2, is there anything you can tell us about it that will really keep us on our toes? (aka please tell me all the things it needs to be 2019 sooner T.T)
Okay, I’m not just saying this but…Book 2 is freaking awesome. It’s so much better than Book 1 because you’re in the world and you know about Faloiv and you’ve already met [redacted for spoilers 🙃] so you can just dive into the planet. I can’t say too much but I can say that Octavia really finds her power in Book 2 and she starts having more agency in her life and decisions. And she kicks some ass. THAT’S IT. DON’T MAKE ME SAY MORE OR I’LL START GUSHING.
OH MY GOSH HOW COULD SHE LEAVE US ON THAT CLIFFHANGER?! I am just slowly dying in my corner of the Internet, don’t mind me.
Want to learn more about A Conspiracy of Stars and Olivia? Check out the info below to get all the official details!
More About the Book
A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia A. Cole
432 pages; Katherine Tegen Books
Published: January 22nd, 2018
Octavia has only ever had one goal: to follow in the footsteps of her parents and become a prestigious whitecoat, one of the scientists who study the natural wonders of Faloiv. The secrets of the jungle’s exotic plants and animals are protected fiercely in the labs by the Council of N’Terra, so when the rules suddenly change, allowing students inside, Octavia should be overjoyed.
But something isn’t right. The newly elected leader of the Council has some extremist views about the way he believes N’Terra should be run, and he’s influencing others to follow him. When Octavia witnesses one of the Faloii—the indigenous people of Faloiv—attacked in front of her in the dark of night, she knows the Council is hiding something. They are living in separate worlds on a shared planet, and their fragile peace may soon turn into an all-out war.
With the help of Rondo, a quiet boy in class with a skill for hacking, and her inquisitive best friend, Alma, Octavia is set on a collision course to discover the secrets behind the history she’s been taught, the science she’s lived by, and the truth about her family.
More About the Author
Olivia A. Cole is an author, blogger, and poet. Her work has been published in such publications as The Oregon Literary Review, The Comstock Review, The Huffington Post, The Daily Dot, xoJane, and others. She was a semi-finalist in the 2014 Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Awards. She published her first novel, Panther in the Hive, in April 2014 and its sequel, The Rooster’s Garden, in February 2016. She signed a 2-book deal with HarperCollins Katherine Tegen Books in 2016 for a new young adult series, the first of which is due out January 2018.
Olivia grew up in Louisville, KY and lived there until she moved to Chicago in 2007, where she attended Columbia College Chicago, earning a B.A. in Cultural Studies with a minor in Poetry. She fell in love with the city of Chicago–it later became the setting for Panther in the Hive.
On social media, Olivia is @RantingOwl, where she is often as thrilled with the existence of the Internet and as she is annoyed by it. She is currently writing a YA sci-fi series, and a literary novel whose plot is a secret.
Olivia is represented by Regina Brooks of Serendipity Literary Agency.
Have you read A Conspiracy of Stars yet? If you’re a lover of sci-fi, what have you been doing? Go and get on it!