Amid Stars and Darkness (The Xenith Trilogy #1)
By: Chani Lynn Feener
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: July 18th, 2017
Delaney’s entire world is thrown into chaos after she is mistaken for Lissa Olena, an alien princess hiding out on Earth in order to escape an arranged marriage.
Kidnapped by the princess’s head bodyguard, Ruckus, and imprisoned in an alien palace, Delaney is forced to impersonate the princess until Olena can be found. If she fails, it will lead to an alien war and the eventual enslavement of the entire human race.
No pressure or anything.
Factor in Trystan, the princess’s terrifying betrothed who is intent on unraveling all her secrets, and her own growing feelings for Ruckus, and Delaney is in way over her head.
Get lost Amid Stars and Darkness, in this YA sci-fi romance from debut author Chani Lynn Feener.
1) What is on your desk or where you write?
I sort of work in a cluttered space, so there are tons of different things on my desk. I also happen to have one of those ones with the shelving units attached at the back, so that helps with the clutter. I have one shelf that holds all my small bookish candles, as well as the basic stuff I use for my bullet journal. The shelf opposite holds all of my regular sketch-journals. The top shelf is for my ARC copies, to remind and keep me motivated while I write, and then I keep a stack of books to either side of the actual desk space. On the pullout drawer is my notebook, the one that holds all the notes for whatever I’m currently writing, as well as a set of highlighters and a black pen. I also have a lot of origami hanging around the area. Oh, and Funko Pop. Basically, I like to keep reminders of my favorite fandoms to help keep me inspired to create something hopefully someone else will love enough to fandom over it.
2) What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a panster? Which came first: the novel or the title? Which do you prefer: drafting or revising?
I am definitely a panster. I can’t plot very much of the book beforehand otherwise I get bored with the project and move onto another one fairly quickly. With Amid Stars and Darkness, the novel came first. The title is actually the second one, and was thought-up by the amazing people at Swoon when I struggled to do so. The original title was Prisoner of Glass, so this one is much better! I much prefer drafting over revising. Edits are only fun for me through the first read through. I like making editions, writing new scenes, etc., but hate having to read through the whole book a third or fourth time.
3) What is your number one writing tip?
It sounds stupid, but my number one tip would be to just do it. It’s so easy to get caught up in everyday life and put off writing. But if it’s something you’re really serious about, and something you really want to do as a career, then you need to make time for it the same way you would any other job. Even if you’re only managing five minutes a day, or fifteen minutes a week, that’s still something!
4) Describe your book in 5 words or less
An exciting romance with aliens.
5) A book goes through a lot of different versions and rounds of editing before it’s complete. What are some “fun facts” or behind the scenes info you can share about the characters from your book or the world you created for it that may or may not have made it to the final draft of the book?
I mentioned earlier that the title was different, so that was something that obviously didn’t “make” it to the final draft. Prisoner of Glass was a bit too convoluted, and didn’t get the idea of the story across well enough. Amid Stars and Darkness is a much better title, and I’m very happy with it! Another thing that’s different now is the beginning. In the first draft, it started with Delaney and Mariana at their apartment, not at the club like it does in the final version. Changing this helped get to the action quicker, and made for a more engaging opening! Because it used to start in their apartment, the first draft also had most of the alien information given to the reader through a news report on TV that Delaney watches. Pettus and Gibus also didn’t have as many scenes in the original, and the first draft was lacking a certain library scene. When you read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. All of these additions helps round out these characters, and I really enjoyed writing them all!
6) Do you have a special story behind your inspiration for the book?
Not really. Because I don’t like to overly plot out a book before I start it, I don’t really have a great story to tell about why I decided to write it. I can say that the idea began because my mom was watching an episode of that show, Ancient Aliens, and I thought, “What would these people do if they really were confronted by an actual alien?”. That sort of planted the seed. I just knew I wanted to write a book where the main character knew aliens did in fact exist, but that she didn’t want to get involved with them. So of course, she’s forced to. That’s all I had when I started writing.
7) Who was your favorite character to write and who gave you the most trouble?
My favorite character to write was probably Delaney. Finding that balance between her being tough, and yet freaked out enough by her circumstances was difficult, but it was also fun. She’d constantly surprise me with her reactions to situations and people. I think the character that gave me the most trouble in the end would probably be Ruckus. Only because it was difficult to find his voice and separate him from the way, say, Delaney sounded, or even the way Trystan did. With the latter, his voice came easy and forcefully, but Ruckus was harder to differentiate on the page. Making sure he came off strong, and sensitive, yet not like a pushover or overly flip and unprofessional, was difficult.
8) If you could ask a character of your choice from AMID STARS AND DARKNESS one question what would it be?
That’s tough…I would probably ask Gibus something about one of his weird science experiments. Like, why he was doing it and how he came up with the crazy concept in the first place. That’s vague, I know, sorry.
9) What scene from the book are you most proud of (because of how you handled the atmosphere, characters, dialogue, etc)?
There’s a scene towards the end where something bad happens—I can’t really say more than that without giving away spoilers—and Trystan, Delaney, and Ruckus are all sort of forced to react to it all at one and together. I’m proud of that one because we get to see different sides of all three of them, and they’re sort of forced to acknowledge things about themselves, and each other, that they were able to ignore prior. So that you know what I’m talking about later, this scene takes place during a ceremony.
10) Is there a scene that you had difficulty with and just had to “power through” to finish the book? Or a scene that made you very emotional?
The last chapter, before the epilogue, was probably the most difficult for me. It was hard getting the right feel for the characters, especially because we’re seeing ones we hadn’t in a while, and saying goodbye to ones we have for most the book. I wanted to make sure I got their voices right, and properly portrayed their characters without rushing, or dragging out, the plot. Olena was particularly difficult at the end of the book, because while we understand a bit better where she’s coming from, she still needs to be the same selfish person from the beginning. I couldn’t let her off the hook, but I also didn’t just want the takeaway to be she was only a villain and nothing else.
11) What are the top five things we should know as a reader before starting AMID STARS AND DARKNESS? (about the main character, their love interest, the antagonist, their world/home town, their situation, etc)
-In this world, everyone already knows that aliens are real, and some have even been living on our planet openly for a few years.
-Despite this fact, Delaney knows next to nothing about aliens. She’s purposefully tried not to become fascinated by them like her best friend, Mariana. So she doesn’t really know anything about their customs, or their titles.
-Delaney is used to putting on a façade because of her parents, so while pretending to be someone else initially seems impossible to her, it’s actually not. She sort of settles into a middle ground place with it.
-Ruckus is a pretty lonely guy. He’s got a high position, but he’s pretty much spent his whole life getting there. So he’s been really work oriented up until this point, and that’s cost him. He doesn’t have many close friends, and doesn’t really realize this until he meets Delaney.
-Trystan is a jerk. I know. He knows it. Soon, you’ll know it too. For some reason, that doesn’t seem to bother people.
12) AMID STARS AND DARKNESS ends on a cliff hanger! Are there any hints that you can give for what is next for your characters? If you could give us five words that would give us a hint of what’s to come, what would they be?
There’s a lot of Trystan.
That’s probably all I should say at this point, and it happens to also be five words! I guess I can also add that there’s a greater discovery in book two of what the war was like for both the Vakar and Kint, and what life is like now for them because of it. And, again, Trystan. Lots and lots of Trystan.
Chani Lynn Feener has wanted to be a writer since the age of ten during fifth grade story time. She majored in Creative Writing at Johnson State College in Vermont, and graduated in 2012. To pay her bills, she has worked many odd jobs, including, but not limited to, telemarketing, order picking in a warehouse, and filling ink cartridges. When she isn’t writing, she’s binging TV shows, drawing, or frequenting zoos/aquariums. Chani is the author of Amid Stars and Darkness and the teen paranormal series the Underworld Saga, originally written under the penname Tempest C. Avery. She currently resides in Connecticut, but lives on Goodreads.com.Find the author:
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. The author image, info, giveaway, and more were provided by Xpresso Book Tours.