GHOSTS & ASHES by F.T. Lukens
Three months have passed since the events of The Star Host, and Ren is living aboard the Star Stream under the watchful eyes of the Phoenix Corps. Plagued by vivid nightmares that ravage the ship in his sleep, he struggles to prove he isn’t a threat and fears he has traded one captor for another. His relationship with Asher, whose efforts to balance his personal loyalty to Ren with his professional duties to the Corps are failing, fractures.
Adrift without an anchor, Ren must return to his home planet of Erden if he has any chance of reversing his dangerous descent into madness. There, he hopes to search for his missing brother and salvage his relationship with Asher. What he finds is knowledge that puts everyone’s allegiance to the test.
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“There you are!” Asher said, striding toward him, wrapping him in an embrace. “Stars, you’re freezing.” Asher rubbed Ren’s arms; his palms swept over the chilled skin. “Where have you been? You left and never came back. Jakob and I have been looking all over for you.”
Ren pitched forward, planted his face in Asher’s chest, and shook. The terror at being taken again mixed with the crushing truths from his parents overwhelmed him.
“Hey, hey, you’re okay.” Asher pulled Ren close. “What happened? Was it a dream? Sleepwalking?”
Ren stilled. Pressed close to Asher’s body, it would be easy to give into the urge to tell him everything, to spill the truth about what his parents had said about the Corps and the star hosts and the history his life was mired in. But his mother’s words lingered in the back of his mind, and Ren remembered how Asher had sided with VanMeerten so many times since the debacle on the drift. Asher was Phoenix Corps, through and through. His allegiance was split, torn between Ren and his duty as a soldier. And how much did he know? Was Asher aware that the first mission of the Corps was to hunt down the scattered remnants of the star hosts? Or did he only know what he had been told, like the rest of them?
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing FT Lukens author of Ghosts & Ashes.
Hi FT, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Hi! Thanks for having me. My current book, Ghosts & Ashes, is the second book in the Broken Moon series. This book continues the adventures of Ren and Asher and the rest of the Star Stream crew.
1) How do you develop your plots and characters?
This is a fun question. When I think about characters, I come up with my protagonist first and what is going to happen to them in the story. Then I think about their different traits both personality wise and physical traits. When I start writing for that character, in the first few pages, I really think about how they react to the other characters, the situation, and I take care with their dialogue to make sure it’s how I want them to sound. A lot of development for characterization takes place within the first few pages of the book and grows from there.
For supporting characters – I start with their role in the protag’s life. What is this person going to do? How do they fit? What do they need to be like? And then I create them from that point.
As for plot, I’m bad to daydream and think about things while I drive or while I work out. Lots of my plot development comes from just thinking. I come up with different points in the story where I want the characters to be. For example, I’ll say, at the halfway point, I want them on the planet and in this emotional state. How do I get them there? And then I create the steps that lead them to that point.
2) Who doesn’t love a good hero? Tell us about your protagonist. Was there a real life inspiration behind them?
Ren and Asher are my main characters. And no, there is not a real life counterpart to either of them. For Ren, I wanted to create a bisexual teenaged hero who comes from humble beginnings and is suddenly thrust into space. He is a fish out of water for the entire series and is dealing with all kinds of stressors. I wanted to show someone who faces adversity but perseveres. For Asher, he’s a soldier. We meet him as a soldier, but he’s young and stubborn and determined. In this book, he’s in love, and he’s doing everything he can to hold onto that.
3) What real-life inspirations do you use when world building?
I write speculative fiction, so I don’t use a ton of real-life inspirations. I think the most I use are in developing the drifts and planets that I created for the book. The drifts remind me of big cities, but collapsed into a small space. Think of like your home squished together with a hotel and with a mall and with your work place and with a hospital etc etc. The planet, Erden, is an agrarian feudal planet which I modeled after both Medieval Europe and rural America. The planet Crei definitely has post-apocalyptic big city vibe.
4) Did you learn anything from this book and what was it?
I hate to say this but I learned that sometimes writing is just difficult. I had a hand injury while writing the majority of this book and the whole process was painful and demotivating. I struggled to get it written. I was in pain. I had to work around doctor’s appts, shots, surgery etc. The process didn’t have the joy of writing like I had with The Star Host. And it wasn’t the content or the characters. It was the physical aspect of getting the job done.
5) It’s your last meal on earth. What do you choose?
Hmm. I’d go with pizza, and steak, and chocolate cake.
About the Author
F.T. Lukens is an author of Young Adult Fiction who got her start by placing second out of ten thousand entries in a fan community writing contest. A sci-fi enthusiast, F.T. loves Star Trek and Firefly and is a longtime member of her college’s science-fiction club. She holds degrees in Psychology and English Literature and has a love of cheesy television shows, superhero movies, and writing. F.T. lives in North Carolina with her husband, three kids, and three cats.
Her first novel in the Broken Moon series, The Star Host, was published by Duet Books in 2016.
Connect with F.T. at authorftlukens.wordpress.com on Twitter @ftlukens, on Tumblr at ftlukens.tumblr.com and on Goodreads at goodreads.com/ftlukens.