A few months ago I had the privilege of interviewing C. E. Stone and reviewing her science fiction book Starganauts. In honor of her recent release, Retribution, the sequel to Starganauts, I sat down with her again!
Stone is a professional tutor in addition to being a talented author in the sunny state of California. When she has free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, sketching, and photo-editing.
Next week, I’ll be sharing my full review of Retribution, so stay tuned. In the meantime, continue reading to catch up with C. E. Stone!
Q) What mythical creature would you like to have as a pet?
A) I would love a Pegasus! They’re so beautiful, elegant, and epic. I’d love flying on the back of my own Pegasus because I could go so many places! Plus, it’s a horse-creature, so it would be more straightforward to take care of than a dragon or chimera. Got to be practical with those imaginary creatures, right?
Q) Which location in a book would you most like to visit and why?
A) Rivendell. While I write sci-fi, fantasy is my first love. The Lord of the Rings is my favorite series of all time, so I’d love visiting Rivendell! How cool would it be to walk along the cliff side, listen to the rushing waterfalls, or sit in a beautiful Elven gazebo and write? Plus, I’d get to meet Elrond, Arwen, and maybe even Bilbo or the Fellowship…depending on when I went.
Q) How do you select what books you want to read?
A) It’s a combination of what I’m in the mood for and what I need to read. I like mixing up my reading list between fun reads, mood reads, and ARC/fellow author reads. Variety is the spice of my reading life!
Q) What are your favorite book tropes? Least favorite?
A) My favorite tropes are good vs. evil, Savior characters, coming-of-age, underdogs, caring female characters, manly men, and slow-burn romance. My LEAST favorite tropes are love triangles, Mary Sue characters, invincible heroes, god-complexes, misunderstood villains, and love at first sight.
Q) What was your most recent 5 star read?
A) When Legends Rise by Daphne Self. She’s a fellow Christian sci-fi author and is publishing this book in July. She gave me an advanced copy in exchange for an endorsement and I absolutely LOVED it! Assassins, interplanetary travel, and secret bases collide with strong Christian themes and epic action scenes in this powerful story that chronicles one man’s journey to faith. I highly recommend it!
Q) Where is your favorite location to read? To write?
A) I enjoy reading on my exercise bike, of all places. Something about exercising while reading focuses my mind. I’ve mentioned before that I have aphantasia, so I really don’t visualize what I read. For whatever reason, exercise stimulates my brain and helps me picture more than I normally do.
My favorite place to write is on my laptop while overlooking a beach. My family has gone to the coast several times and I always set aside a few hours to write. There’s nothing more calming and inspiring to me than hearing the crash of waves, feeling the sea breeze, and gazing out across a horizon of glistening blue.
Q) Can you tell us about Retribution?
A) The real question, Kayla, is can you get me to stop? 😆
Retribution picks up a year after the events of Starganuats. The characters settle in on a new world, in a new society, and then are thrust back into battle and service as Starganauts. A theme of Retribution is a coming war, symbolized by a storm. Samantha struggles through a dry spell of revelations from the Lord before finally receiving a vision…and being unable to tell anyone about it! Kaity loves her comfortable new life and hates the thought of returning to Starganaut duty. This prompts a drastic decision on her part, which affects the whole team.
Sharko is still getting used to leading the team, and his leadership is severely tested right before the first battle. There’s also a villain who I enjoyed writing, because he’s more complex than Vogul. Indeed, I’d say I actually feel sympathy for him, even though I hate him for his evil actions. What’s even more fun? He’s a mystery villain until halfway through the book!
There’s a LOT of battles in Retribution, along with telekinetic abilities, mind-reading aliens, and trips to exotic planets. It’s primarily a war book about vengeance, forgiveness, and leaning on Jesus through life’s fiercest storms. I also focus on the characters and the struggles they face through these events.
Q) For those that haven’t read Starganauts, can you tell us how it sets the stage for Retribution?
Starganauts introduces us to the Gorvan Galaxy, the setting of the series, and to the eight humans from Earth who discover orbs that transform them into superhuman warriors (“Starganauts”). We also catch glimpses of Trylithia, a planet of blue-skinned aliens in the Gorvan Galaxy. There are a few scenes about a king, or tormac, of a place called Duskrealm. This tormac backs Vogul (the main villain) and provides him with a planet-killing gunship. Duskrealm features heavily in Retribution and there is a tie-in with the sequel’s villain…though I won’t say more. I want to leave the details as a surprise. 😊
Q) Which of your original characters do you most relate to?
A) Kaity Anderson, hands down! She’s empathetic, cheerful, and an encourager who likes to be there for others in hard times. While friendly, she’s very timid by nature. She’d rather melt into a wall than be the center of attention, she prefers peace and quiet to excitement, and change is hard for her. Most of all, she’s someone who deeply feels her emotions and tunes in to others’. I relate to her on ALL these levels, because she’s the character most like me. I too hate the spotlight, and I’ve had many people tell me I’m so empathetic that I should be a counselor. Lol! The only big differences between us are that I’m a fairly content person and I don’t have trouble letting go of the past. Not so, for Kaity. I’ve also never been sucked through a wormhole and survived a desert planet, so there’s that, too. 😉
Q) Can you tell us about your experience as an indie author?
A) I’m going to sum it up in one word: rollercoaster. Being an indie author has been wonderful. It’s been amazing seeing the fruition of years’ worth of hard work. It’s been surreal holding a copy of my book in my hand…and having lots of people buying it! Sales have been fantastic. I’ve sold about 150 copies of Book 1, which is far more than I ever imagined. People’s compliments, support, and encouragement are wonderful and make my day.
However, it’s also been difficult. Being an indie author has involved blood, sweat, and literal tears. Edits for Retribution were a PAIN. Reviews are my weakness, and I’ve gotten enough 1- and 2-stars that I’ve sometimes felt like giving up. I’ve also been told “Christian” and “sci-fi” don’t belong in the same sentence, and been harshly criticized by someone I don’t even know. Some days are tough. Some days are glorious. It’s definitely a journey, and I’m in it for the long haul. Overall, it’s an incredible thing to publish and glorify God with my writing, so I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Q) What advice would you offer aspiring authors?
Authoring isn’t for the faint of heart. Go into it with a mindset that this is a journey, not a one-stop destination. Unless you’re incredibly lucky, writing and publishing are a TON of work and require perseverance, creativity, and motivation. Being an author is one of the most rewarding things on the planet, so stick with it! Find a community to support you and BE a support for others.
Above all else, seek to honor God. Resist the pressure to conform or give in to the world’s expectations. Don’t be discouraged when you face opposition. Jesus had a LOT of critics, yet that didn’t stop Him from fulfilling God’s plan for salvation. Write the story God lays on your heart, and trust Him with the details.
Q) Is there anything else you would like to add?
A) I’d like to mention that I’ve already written Book 3 of Starganauts, titled Defector! A defector is someone who changes allegiance, and that’s the central theme of this book. There will be a betrayal…or possibly two! You’ll get to meet my dangerous, cybernetic space pirates and travel with the team to the edges of the Gorvan Galaxy on a very personal quest. I’m taking my time to edit this one, but I already have the tagline for it:
“In the betrayal of one lies the salvation of many.”
I hope that whets your appetite for Defector. In the meantime, thank you so much for interviewing me, Kayla! This was fun and you asked great questions.
Looking forward to sharing my review of Retribution with you all next week. You can read my review of Starganauts here.