1. Do you consider your story Scifi? Have you always liked that genre?
I think The Stellar Trilogy is "other". For the sake of publishing, I had to call it something, so I called it Contemporary Fantasy Fiction. Believe, it was a process of deliberating just to put it in that narrow box, but it fits the best-- until "other" is actually an option. While I've always been a huge fan of Sci-Fi and fantasy, I can't really call The Stellar Trilogy Sci-Fi because traditionally there's supposed to be science involved. There's some Quantum Physics and Science of Mind intermingled in the story, so sure, I could get away with calling it Sci-Fi and yet... The Stellar Trilogy is so much more than any box I could try to stuff it in. There is no box!!!
2. How much of yourself and your own life do you see in the main character, or other characters and experiences?
Because Kai's story is about self-discovery and being "other"--there's that word again-- I see a lot of myself through Kai's lens and her experiences. I know what it's like to be deemed "grey matter". Not quite one thing or another, just kind of a fringe existence. What's been so cool is how so many people who've read the book see themselves in Kai too and relate to her experiences. I'm talking women AND men. I suppose it was instinct when I started off the "Dear Reader" commentary with "Kai is you." I think the essence of Kai is in us all. Kai means love by the way. To answer your question, there's a lot of me in Kai, but there's a lot of other people in her too. The other characters, to be honest, they aren't based on any people I know. They created themselves as supporting presence for Kai's journey.
3. What is your creative process? How do you come up with ideas? When/where do you write?
Honestly, my creative process is really just S.M.A.D. (Sit My Ass Down). My brain is like a sieve. Once I sit down in front of my computer, the pictures in my head start and my job is simply to explain what I'm seeing. Then the characters start talking and I treat the experience like improv acting. In improv, every person in a scene has to commit to "yes". So that means if somebody does or says some crazy ish, everybody in that scene has to stay in character and go with it until the end of the scene. That is the literal process that happens in my head. I don't have an end game. I don't write notes or have outlines. My job as the vessel of the work is to take the ride, wherever it's going. It's never a dull moment because I never know where it's going. I knew how the story ended when it was over. Just like the reader.
I suppose my ideas come from that process, but it's been about self discovery for me as well. This is my first book. I can't say I have a formula yet. I keep a journal. I can say the idea for The Stellar Trilogy came about from a few pages of ideas I wrote in one of my journals.
I mentioned my brain is a sieve right? I write all the time. I'm always writing something, but not always what I sat down to write. I can say I work best either at a million o'clock at night on the deck with my laptop when my daughter is asleep or at my "creation studio"-- either way it's all about having no one around to judge me whilst I'm talking to all the people populating my head. LOL.
4. How is writing a book different (or the same) from the other media work you do?
Writing The Stellar Trilogy is not that much different than what I do in other forms of media in that it's a viable and tangible creative outlet for me. Everything I have done and do currently in media is about reframing the conversations we have with ourselves. The Stellar Trilogy fits this core value of mine perfectly. It's different in that it's undiluted. Media always has to be boiled down to fit an allotted time frame which has to amount to clips, snippets, trailers and blurbs. A book is its own thing and is timeless if it must be. People can take their time and savor it. They can put it down and come back to it later. However long "later" happens to be. It took me 3 years to read The Celestine Prophesy. I would buy it and give it away, then buy it and give it away. Once I saw the movie, I was hooked. I had to read every book in the series and did so in one weekend. The Celestine Prophesy changed everything for me particularly about how creative ideas and stories can unwittingly become lessons for humanity that also changes lives. A story can be fun and funny and also esoteric and complicated. It can be exciting and riveting and also compel important questions and conversations. So with that said, I think adding fiction to my current media repertoire is the perfect compliment to my career as a whole. A) Because it's in me to do. and B) Because people embrace ideas in all different ways right? Books live in their own time continuum.
I wrote the first draft in a month or two. It took 7 years to rewrite, revise, revision, reshape and uplevel the story to what it is now. What I mean by 7 years is 2 or 3 years tucked away and then I'd pull it out and add or delete something. Then pull it out again 2 or 3 years later and add or delete something. The Stellar Trilogy has had too many drafts to count. I didn't have the missing pieces to the story's puzzle until around May (of 2013). That's why it took 7 years to publish.
6. Tell me about the language, customs, and culture of these characters.
Kai is a Sialovehal (A Seed) from TuStai. Her people are called The Stai (Star People) and speak Tuahstai (Tongue of Stars). Kai thinks she's human, of course, having been raised by her surrogate humans on Earth--which is an interesting dynamic. The Stai people are highly evolved beings who live in higher realms. Their role in the story ( from what we know) is to initiate a working and self sustaining evolutionary process for humans called The Entwine of Mirth (The Joining of Joy)--to help expedite humans to their fullest potential so they don't destroy themselves and Earth. The Stai sent missionaries to help initiate The Entwine. It's a painfully long process and isn't something The Stai take lightly. Something went horribly wrong however. Kai's father was one of the missionaries originally sent to Earth, but he went bat sh*t crazy and it's Kai's job to return him home or The Entwine will never be balanced, Kai's mom can't return home AND the Earth will be destroyed. We don't learn a lot about The Stai in Book 1, but we do get the impression they are mighty important in the scheme of things in the big, big, mighty big universe.
I think the development of Tuahstai for Book 1 grounds the story in the "otherness" that lurks in every scene. It's a phonetic language like Polynesian languages. Every syllable is pronounced. Tuahstai is spoken in pockets throughout the book in an effort to help Kai remember her mission--which is to return her father home. It's way more complicated than that, of course, based on who her dad turns out to be. I have a feeling Kai learns a lot more about The Stai and her home planet/higher realms in Book 2, but I can't be sure yet. I won't know until I finish writing it!
7. How did you come up with the star image? What does it represent?
Like most things in this book, I didn't come up with it, it found me. From what I understand, The 5 point star is a piece of a larger whole of the symbol that represents The Stai. There's also a circle in that mix and another symbol, yet undisclosed. The star is the most prevalent in Book 1, so we'll stick with that. My theory--and this is just a theory at this point-- is that it has something to do with Sacred Geometry. A 5 point star gives off the same vibe as Leonard Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man. Perfect proportions? Balance? The head is always aligned with higher realms than the body? I don't have that answer yet. I'll let you know when I find out! I do know that all of the original Star People wear their stars in the middle of their forehead as their birthright. It does serve a purpose, but you have to read the book to find out what that is.
8. How much of the story/themes/experiences are grounded in our real world, and written as conscious metaphors? What lessons can our world learn from that world?
Book 1 of The Stellar Trilogy is truly a set up for what's unfolding in Book 2. Book 1 is called Among Us, so for Kai it's about self discovery and walking through the veil of her perceived reality. Which is something we're all called to do at some point in our lives. Book 2 is called Awake. So.
The story is contemporary in that it takes slices of "real life" and folds it into the mix of a more metaphysical idea of the themes and things we've all read about or heard of at some point in our lives. But nothing is what it seems. Nothing is as we think it's supposed to be. I do think there are conscious metaphors steeped into the storyline too. But esoteric concepts are a personal discovery piece. It's going to resonate differently for everybody. Which I think is the coolest part of how the story unfolds.
The world that happens to be Kai's life is not so different from the world we live in now. It feels like a quirky dream for some and a blatant nightmare for others. I think The Stellar Trilogy tests the boundaries of what we believe reality to be and how we may or may not shape the lives we live. How much power do we really have in shaping our world? Is my life experience nature or nurture? What if what I think the world is--is utterly false? Then what? In order to stay the same, you have to deny reality. But then you have to ask, well... what is reality? That's Kai conundrum throughout the book. I guess the funny part is, as deep as it sounds, it's really not that deep. It's as simple as asking: Am I the master of my reality or is my reality the master of me? Whatever way you answer, you'll be right. That's no metaphor, that's an everyday conundrum we all face. It's Kindof cool to see Kai's process as she faces all the crazy crap she experiences throughout the story.
9. Where can readers get the book and how can they best help you spread the word?
Right now The Stellar Trilogy is available on Amazon via paperback and Kindle. Kindle of course, has a free app for all smart phones and tablets. In a few weeks The Stellar Trilogy will be available at every major online retailer and for every e-book reader.
How can you spread the word?! Social Media!!! My Instagram is @EnvyousLife. When you get the book, share your pic with me on Instagram! Share where you are as you're reading it. At the beach? Bus? Train? In bed with your pet mouse? In the backseat of the longest road trip ever? Use the hash tag #TheStellarTrilogy. I always repost, retweet and fave. I'm also selecting random peeps who post their #TheStellarTrilogy pics this summer to receive really cool gifts bags via some really, really, really cool brands. I haven't announced yet, but those details are coming soon. Share for the love, but also know, sharing is a win/win.
Also, if you've read the book and love it, share a review on amazon.com. I've had about a zillion FB, twitter, text and phone conversation reviews so far about how much folk love The Stellar Trilogy! The feedback has been humbling and amazing! For example, this woman inboxed me on FB to say she believes The Stellar Trilogy is the Celestine Prophecy for our generation. How awesome of an amazon review would that have been right? So if you love it, tell other readers why so they can jump in, read it and love it too! Social media and word of mouth is running this party, and for that I am humbled beyond words. Thank you abundantly!
10. What’s next????
I'm presently working on The Stellar Trilogy: Book 2, Awake. Everyone who has read Book 1 has said out loud that it's designed to be a movie, so... I'm actively circulating Book 1 around to film production houses to manifest The Stellar Trilogy Movie 1 (of 3) into production sooner, rather than later. Why not, right? Also, my home base is envymckee.com, so all the news you can use is allllll there!
I highly recommend Among Us to book lovers who want to delve into a dynamic, entertaining, and intellectually-challenging read. Feel free to stay in touch with Envy on Twitter @QueenEnvy.