Friday, February 23, 2018

0 Rhoda Belleza, author of BLOOD OF A THOUSAND STARS, on writing as a form of therapy

BLOOD OF A THOUSAND STARS is the sequel to Empress of a Thousand Skies, and we're thrilled to have Rhoda Belleza here to share more about it.

Rhoda, what was your inspiration for writing BLOOD OF A THOUSAND STARS?

I always gravitate toward war, expansive worlds, lots of politics and reluctant heroes. I’d watched and read a lot of scifi, and I have a deep deep love of 80s action movies—but never saw any brown people as main characters. They were tangential or part of the scenery at best, caricatures and villains at worst. I wanted to write the book I wanted to read as a teen, with heroes who looked like my friends and me, who were dealing with similar societal themes. Racism, gender inequality, colonization—I wanted it all captured here in this series.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

There’s a scene where Kara is nearly at the end of her journey, looking to destroy a piece of technology that would in turn erase her past identity. She’s down on herself; she doesn’t think she deserves anything good in the world, and she doesn’t think she has anything to offer. Her friend Issa shows support, and tries to convince her otherwise. It’s not the flashiest scene but it hit really close to home. Kara has imposter syndrome to the extreme and I deal with that, too—it was really raw to explore those emotions, and sometimes I found her so blind to her intrinsic good that I’d get annoyed with her…and then I’d be like, “Oh yeah I do that too.”

In terms of a scene I really love, it’s in the epilogue! And I want to avoid spoilers but let’s just say I found a circularity and a closure for a couple of characters.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

There's so many! Cindy Pon's WANT, Beth Revis' amazing novelization of ROGUE ONE and her book ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, Marie Lu's WARCROSS. I also recently had the pleasure of doing an event with Melissa Albert for her amazing book THE HAZEL WOOD. Though our books are very different in style and content, I think this book would really resonate with my readers as they both stare amazing, complex angry girls.

How long did you work on BLOOD OF A THOUSAND STARS?

It was a sequel so I had about a year for it to all come together! It was super intense.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

That writing is a form of therapy. It’s at its most fulfilling when I work out some deep, interpersonal conflict within the character—because I’m kind of working it out with myself, too.

What do you hope readers will take away from BLOOD OF A THOUSAND STARS?

That you define who you are. It’s easy to listen to all the voices that doubt you—including your own!—and to slip into insecurity. It’s a part of life, or my life at least, and to some extent a thing I’ll always have to live with. But I want readers to at least know that they can exert some control over who they are and how they act, and feel empowered to pursue the things they want and be the person they hope to be…

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

The road felt infinitely long, and as exciting as it is to release two books, I don’t want to ignore the parts that were excruciating and heartbreaking! I’ve attempted to write at least six books, all abandoned, in addition to about a bazillion short stories that were rejected across dozens and dozens of publications.

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

LOL. I wish there was some key I could turn to unlock the creative process and make things run smoothly. The truth is nearly every part of writing is difficult work, which is not to discourage, but just to say that it’s a rollercoaster. But even as I’m writing thing, I’m thinking maybe that’s the key…to accept how difficult and emotional the process is, and push through it to make art you’re proud of.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I write a messy zero draft that makes as much sense as a fever dream. No music, no distractions—just a stream of consciousness typing from my desktop computer at home. It’s more like laying out my initial thoughts on the dynamic between characters and basic choreography of each scene. Then, I go back through and refine the sentences and flesh everything out. And then I have to do that a million more times.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Between deadlines and word counts, it’s easy to tell yourself you don’t have time to go out—but make the time! Exercise, take walks, eat good food, and connect with your friends. It’s worth it in the long run. You don’t want to look up from your computer a year later and realize your life passed you by.

What are you working on now?

A scifi fantasy about a plague. Uplifting stuff!


Blood of a Thousand Stars
by Rhoda Belleza
Released 2/20/2018

War tears the galaxy apart, power tests the limits of family, and violence gives way to freedom in this exhilarating sequel to Empress of a Thousand Skies.

With a revolution brewing, Rhee is faced with a choice: make a deal with her enemy, Nero, or denounce him and risk losing her crown.

Framed assassin Alyosha has one goal in mind: kill Nero. But to get his revenge, Aly may have to travel back to the very place he thought he’d left forever—home.

Kara knows that a single piece of technology located on the uninhabitable planet Wraeta may be the key to remembering—and erasing—the princess she once was.

Villainous media star Nero is out for blood, and he’ll go to any means necessary to control the galaxy.
Vicious politics and high-stakes action culminate in an epic showdown that will determine the fate of the universe.

Purchase Blood of a Thousand Stars at Amazon
Purchase Blood of a Thousand Stars at IndieBound
View Blood of a Thousand Stars on Goodreads


Rhoda Belleza was raised in Los Angeles, where she grew up writing XFiles fanfiction and stuffing her face with avocados. When she's not writing, Rhoda obsesses over nail art tutorials, watches kung fu movies, and sews together crooked things that pass for clothes. She's a children's editor at a publishing house and writes from a sunny Brooklyn apartment stuffed far too many bikes and far too many shoes. Empress of a Thousand Skies is her debut novel.


Have you had a chance to read BLOOD OF A THOUSAND STARS yet? Do you feel like writing is a rollercoaster? Do you make time to go out and connect with friends? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Jocelyn, Halli, Martina, Anisaa, Charlotte, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

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