Book Tour Q&A: Stargun Messenger by Darby Harn
Today we're taking part in the book tour organized by Escapist Book Tours for Stargun Messenger by Darby Harn! Continue reading for the book blurb and a Q&A with the author.
About the book
To save the stars, Astra Idari must outrun her own shadow. Astra Idari is a mess.
She drinks too much, remembers too little, and barely pays for it all as a Stargun Messenger. She hunts down thieves who steal filamentium, the fuel that allows for faster-than-light travel. When Idari meets Gen Emera, she meets the girl of her dreams and the last living star. There’s just one problem.
Filamentium is only found in the blood of living stars.
Everyone wields knives and justifications for butchering the living stars to get around, but once Idari knows the truth, she faces a stark choice. Either she turns Emera over to her employers who control the filamentium monopoly, or risks everything to help Emera fulfill her quest to save her people.
The choice should be simple, but it’s not losing her life that terrifies Idari. It’s finally living. Idari knows she’s human despite outwardly appearing to be an android with a failing memory stitched together by her ship's irascible AI, CR-UX. She’s been just getting by for longer than she remembers, assured in her humanity, but not enough to risk it.
Idari has lived her entire life in darkness. The dark comforts and shields. The dark preserves in its cold, and Idari may not be able to keep her star out of her shadow.
“If James Joyce had grown up reading X-Men comics and obsessively playing Destiny, he would have written this. A breathtakingly imaginative, star-spanning romp that is equal parts swashbuckling galactic adventure and lyrical introspection about love and identity.”
- Wayne Santos, author of The Chimera Code
On to the interview...!
Thank you so much for joining us for this Q&A! We’ll start off with one of our standard podcast opening questions–tell us something great that’s happened recently.
I finally met my good friend Sunyi Dean in person for the first time after knowing her seven or eight years now. She has been a huge inspiration to me in many ways.
What are you currently reading or what’s up next on your TBR? What made you pick up this book?
White Cat, Black Dog by Kelly Link. I live for Kelly Link’s ability to mine the mundane from the fairy tale.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to start writing?
I was always writing little stories and making little comics on the back of my math worksheets at school. I saw Star Wars at the drive-in when I was three years old and then Superman and then I’m watching Star Trek and Batman reruns on TV at home. I sat and read comic books at the rack at the grocery store. It all combined to galvanize little me into wanting to create my own worlds and characters.
How do you spend your free time when you’re not reading or writing? Do you have any hobbies or interests that you can talk to us about?
I bike a lot. I love to travel. This year I’m getting back to normal post-COVID with trips to San Francisco and Costa Rica. I love exploring new places and meeting new people.
Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influences?
Kelly Link is someone who continues to astonish. She’s a huge inspiration to me. David Mitchell. Kevin Barry. I love everything Charlie Jane Anders does. Essa Hansen is a staggering sci-fi author with a brilliant, inventive imagination.
If you could collaborate with any one author, who would it be and why?
I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of co-writing a story or novel with someone. Good Omens is one of my favorites. I’d worry about simply diluting another writer’s greatness, but Al Hess (author of World Running Down) and I have chatted a little about the idea at least.
What is one thing that you love about the current state of SFF and what is one thing that you wish you saw more of?
I love how diverse and driven by hope it is. A lot of classic and contemporary sci-fi is driven by dystopia and I get it. We contemplate forces and futures we don’t understand. So we fear them. Fear can motivate you, and it can also paralyze, which is why it’s so important to hope. Especially right now, when personal liberty and democracy itself are under siege in the States. You have a civic duty to hope.
What is one book you want to shout about to the world? What about it makes you love it so much?
I’m going to reach back and say Eureka Street by Robert McLiam Wilson. This is an extraordinary novel I read while in Belfast many moons ago. It’s a funny, heartbreaking, illuminating view on a city in transition. This is the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and a good reason to revisit this book, which I doubt most people are aware of in the States.
What are your favorite types of stories? Of characters?
I love all kinds of stories. Usually there is some element of mystery to it. I love mysteries and detective fiction and some day I’d like to write one - I’ve got an idea - but anything with a question. Especially for the character. Who are they? What do they want? What aren’t they asking themselves? Whether it’s literary fiction, genre fiction, and really there are no distinctions, I love stories that ask questions.
How much do you plan when you write? What’s your writing process like?
I plan very little. Definitely a pantser. Ideas gestate with me for a long time, though. Stargun Messenger has its origins in a screenplay I wrote in 1996 or 1997. Ever The Hero started as an idea in 2011. The book came out in 2020. I write a lot and fast, and then I spend a long time going over it.
Is this your first book? If so, what lessons have you learned from writing it? If not, what lessons did you learn from writing earlier books that you brought into this one?
This is book seven overall, though in some ways it is the first. My first attempt at this story in novel form was in 2000 or so. This book has a long, complicated history that was hampered by numerous things. One thing I learned from the other books was how to write a book. It wasn’t until recently that I understood things about myself and my craft that allowed me to finally realize this novel.
What do you think characterizes your writing style?
Voices. I love voices. Dialogue. Somewhere in there is, I hope, a good story.
How much of yourself do you write into your stories?
There is always some of you in every story. I am mostly interested in other people. The act and art of becoming someone else in the course of writing another story. Discovering a person, a new world, a new way of looking at something. Understanding it, if you can. Art is the act of discovery.
What comes first to you when you’re writing, the world, the characters, or the storyline?
It depends. Sometimes it will be an idea - Ever The Hero was what if you had to pay for superheroes? - and sometimes it’s an image. A Country of Eternal Light was a woman walking up the pier on an isolated Irish island and all the buildings are boarded up.
They say to never judge a book by its cover, but a cover is still a marketing tool that helps sell books. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of your book?
The cover art is by Al Hess, who does all my covers. The basic idea is I wanted to communicate this idea of light and shadow, which are powerful themes in the book. So Idari is illuminated in blue by Gen Emera, a living star. She’s also casting a shadow. I also wanted it to be different and yet very 80s retro sci-fi. I was thinking of a lot of manga comics I read as a teen. Bright color. Energy. Pop.
Can you give us an elevator pitch for your book?
Astra Idari discovers the starship fuel she’s sworn to protect comes from the blood of living stars.
Describe your book in 3 adjectives.
Fast, funny, epic.
How different is the final version of this book from the first draft?
On one hand, the story is effectively the same. The characters and goals are essentially what they were in the beginning, twenty odd years ago. On the other, it’s completely different.
Can you tell us a little bit about your characters? What are your favorite kinds of characters to write?
Astra Idari is daring, funny, forgetful. She’s a beautiful person who only sees beauty in others. She’s always running ahead of the shadows chasing her. I love complicated characters. No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone doubts themselves. I love people discovering themselves.
If you could choose one worldbuilding detail (a place, ability, or creature, for example) from your book to exist in the real world, what would it be and why?
That’s a tough one. It’s a challenging world. There is beauty in it, though. The Lumenor, the living stars, I’d love to think someone so wondrous could exist in the real world.
In your opinion, what kind of reader would like this book?
Fans of space opera for sure. Cyberpunk. Anime and manga. If you love Saga, the comic book, I think you’ll like this.
What would you like readers to take away from this book?
Hope is a very durable thing.
Do you have a favorite quote from your book that you can share with us? What about this quote in particular makes it your favorite?
This exchange between Idari and Emera I think encapsulates the book: “I know who I am. I’ve always known. I tell myself… I tell others… but I don’t hear conviction in my voice I don’t let people see the real me. I can’t.”
“I see you, Idari.”
Is there anything you can tell us about any current projects you’re working on?
I am about 75% into Stargun Messenger 2. Black Market Heart (Eververse Book 4) is done and will be out next year, details to come. I’m about 66% into book 5 and also (!) I’m 20k into something new and secret!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! Do you have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to leave for our readers?
Thank you for your questions! I’d just say if you’re independent author or have aspirations to be, you’ll have so many questions about how to get started, how to sustain, how to build. Don’t ever forget to ask yourself what you want. What is your goal or idea of success? What is your happiness?
And finally, where can you be found on the internet if our readers want to hear more from you?
You can find me on my website www.darbyharn.com, as well as through my newsletter which you can subscribe to there. I’m on the socials (for now) Twitter: @Darbyharn IG: darbywritesbooks