I’m so thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for Caitlin Sangster’s debut novel, Last Star Burning! Not only do I have a Q&A with the author to share with you, but I also have Caitlin’s own aesthetic she created for the book! Check them out below and enter to win a copy of the book!
About the Book
Title: LAST STAR BURNING
Author: Caitlin Sangster
Pub. Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Sev is branded with the mark of a criminal—a star burned into her hand. That’s the penalty for being the daughter of the woman who betrayed their entire nation.
Now her mother’s body is displayed above Traitor’s Arch, kept in a paralyzed half sleep by the same plague that destroyed the rest of the world. And as further punishment, Sev is forced to do hard labor to prove that she’s more valuable alive than dead.
When the government blames Sev for a horrific bombing, she must escape the city or face the chopping block. Unimaginable dangers lurk outside the city walls, and Sev’s only hope of survival lies with the most unlikely person—Howl, the chairman’s son. Though he promises to lead her to safety, Howl has secrets, and Sev can’t help but wonder if he knows more about her past—and her mother’s crimes—than he lets on.
But in a hostile world, trust is a luxury. Even when Sev’s life and the lives of everyone she loves may hang in the balance.
1- Congratulations on your debut novel! What has been the most exciting part of having a book published so far?
The most exciting thing by far is the idea that people will get to read my book! It’s not just a file on my computer that my immediate family suffered through! It’s a real book with pages and page numbers and my name on it and everything!
2- How did your time living in Asia as well as your BA in Asian Studies help to inspire this novel?
I’m not even sure how to answer that without writing an entire essay.
I feel like it should be a requirement for everyone to spend time somewhere they didn’t grow up. And I don’t mean going to gawk and hang out with the other people like you. I mean go and buy your own groceries, make friends, take classes, LIVE there. Assimilate. It doesn’t have to be a place as far away as China. The US is so diverse culturally, you could probably just go to another part and settle down with people who just . . . aren’t like you. I don’t know how to put it another way. It’s so easy to look at another culture and think “man, those people have everything backwards”, even within our own country. Just look at US politics. We all live in the same country…but we don’t really. And there isn’t a lot of crossover between the different kinds of people to foster any kind of mutual understanding, and as a result a lot of our political discourse is some version of, “I’m right, and everything you stand for actively damages me and mine” with no capacity to even see where the other side is coming from.
On an international level, being a tourist or an ex-pat that stays within the ex-pat community does the same thing to people- they look out from their bubble and say, “Look! A cool old building! Also, what is wrong with people here? They don’t do everything exactly the way I do!” (I still don’t understand salty ice cream. Whyyyy?!??)
I’ve been so lucky in my international experiences to by right in the middle of things, going weeks without speaking English sometimes. When you spend time with people who don’t do or speak the way you do, at first it’s weird, and hard, and you just want to go home. Then you realize that there’s more than one way to look at the world. There’s more than your own set of concerns, your way of processing things.
Okay, I’m hopping off my soapbox now. I loved, loved, loved my experiences in China and Taiwan, loved the people I got to be with, LOVED EVERYTHING. We don’t talk a lot about China or much of Asia at all over here in the States. When I started my degree in Asian studies, every class I took just . . . floored me. The West exotifies the empires and the clothing and religions and fighting styles of Asian cultures without learning about Dream of Red Chamber or Journey to the West, or even our own history crossing over with that side of the world: Great Britain’s part Opium Wars or the West’s random redrawing of borders and enslavement of people in order to grow spices, tea, and coffee. We see the King and I, not the real story behind it.
And I’m standing on a soapbox again. What it boils down to is that there’s a lot more to the world than we see right here, and I hoped that by setting my book in a Chinese landscape loosely inspired by real events, it might spark some interest about that side of the world. Not just the filtered version, with ninjas and empresses with their fancy hair styles and Buddha statues on every corner but the thousands of years of history that, for some reason, seems to stay shut up in books unless you go looking for it here.
3. Sev sounds like such a fascinating character! What elements of her character did you enjoy writing the most?
The thing I liked most about writing Sev is the way she processes the world. She avoids difficult things about her life by making jokes and generally being awkward, which was so much fun to voice. I love voicey books (it’s one of my favorite things about YA!) and really sinking into hers was so, so fun.
4. What was the most challenging part of writing Last Star Burning for you?
The most difficult part of writing Last Star Burning was just getting the time to write it. I have four very young children who want to hike and run and play and throw yogurt on the floor and feed the baby legos. It was hard to carve out time for myself where I could focus enough to just get the words down on the page. It’s still hard. But the change from not writing to writing pretty seriously was definitely a test of my patience and self-discipline. Luckily I have an amazingly supportive spouse who made sure I got to do what I wanted to do, even when it was a stretch.
5. I am very excited to see that this is planned to be a series. How many books do you currently have planned for it?
It’s a duology. I think I’m going to leave Sev and her story at two books, but there could be more stories coming from this world in the future.
Caitlin Sangster’s Last Star Burning Aesthetic
I LOVE seeing images that authors pin while working on their novels, so I’m excited to get to share Caitlin’s aesthetic with you!
Caitlin Sangster grew up in the back woods of California and would rather go hiking, running, swimming, or general outdoorsing than just about anything else. If there aren’t any mountains, it doesn’t count as a real place. At eighteen, she moved to XinJiang, and at twenty-one it was Taiwan. She did eventually buckle down and graduate from Brigham Young University with a BA in Asian Studies and is now that person you avoid at parties because she’ll probably start talking about Shang dynasty oracle bones.
Caitlin has been writing since middle school. She always thought of it as a silly sort of compulsive habit until she realized that people like reading stories and she liked writing them and there wasn’t much silly about that.
She currently lives in Utah with her husband and four children.
Enter the Giveaway!
3 winners will receive an ARC of LAST STAR BURNING, US Only.
Follow the Blog Tour
Thanks so much to Rockstar Book Tours for hosting this tour! Be sure to check out their website here as well as the other amazing posts on this tour!
10/2/2017- YA and Wine– Interview
10/3/2017- Seeing Double In Neverland– Review
10/4/2017- Tales of the Ravenous Reader– Guest Post
10/5/2017- Take Me Away To A Great Read– Review
10/6/2017- Two Chicks on Books– Interview
10/9/2017- Omg Books and More Books – Review
10/10/2017- The Candid Cover– Excerpt
10/11/2017- Nerdophiles- Review
10/12/2017- YA Book Madness– Interview
10/13/2017- Mundie Moms– Review
Have you added this book to your TBR yet? What is your favorite YA dystopic novel you’ve read this year?