All the Stars on Fire by Beck Medina ***YA Fantasy - Spotlight - Interview - Excerpt***
Welcome to my stop on the All the Stars on Fire by Beck Medina blog tour!
All the Stars on Fire
by Beck Medina
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: December 20th 2019
Natalia Morales has a secret...she's kind of a superhero. Natalia dreams of joining the Action Team, the newly banded and young heroes that protect Angel City, and just may stop at anything to make it happen.
Alyse Morales knows her sister's secret, and wants Natalia to give up on her dangerous dream. When Alyse gets hurt one night while Natalia is crime fighting, Natalia promises to end her run as a hero. But when the Sorceress appears in Angel City, and Captain Force, the leader of the Action Team, enlists in Natalia's help, she may have to break her promise in order to protect her family and friends.
Will Alyse ever forgive her? Is Natalia actually capable of saving the day? All the Stars on Fire is the story of following your dreams, what it truly takes to be a hero, and leaping into the unknown.
An Interview with the Author
Beck MedinaWelcome to Character Madness and Musings.
Tell us a little bit about why you write in your chosen genre, and if you have books in other genres as well.
I like to write young adult fiction because young adult fans aren’t looking to be impressed. They just want a good story, quality characters, and an escape to an exciting, new world. Writing from the perspective of a teenager also feels the most natural to me. I guess because I see my internal self as pretty young still. I’m currently writing a young adult horror story and that’s been fun. Prior to YA, I posted science fiction short stories and poetry in an old writing blog I had.
What was the title of your first book, and what was/is it about?
It was called A Fantastic Mess of Everything. It was about a college senior named Millie who’s starting her final year of college and experiencing a ton of changes. Her best friend is changing their post-graduation plans. Her absent father wants to rekindle their relationship and is pushing it too hard. She’s falling in love with a friend she never saw herself attracted to. Millie also has anxiety and abandonment issues, so that’s explored throughout the book.
The first book seems to be the most difficult to get off the ground. What inspired you to write it?
A Fantastic Mess was inspired by a short story I wrote for my old writing blog. I actually based it off some unresolved feelings I had about this time a guy I liked brought another girl to an event he was hosting. After that I wrote an outline for the book, but I didn’t start writing it until the following year, about five months later. When I did begin writing it, I didn’t have any plans to make a career out of writing books, I just wanted to see if I was capable of writing a novel after years of struggling to find my voice as an author. I’d say it was a success.
What is your most current book? (If different from first book)
My current book is called All the Stars on Fire.
Is it a series?
It’s the first book of what I hope to be a trilogy. I’ve written most of the second book but I don’t plan to release it until late 2020/early 2021. I used to think I had to put out a new book every year in order to stay relevant and retain readership, but I spent three years working on Stars on Fire, so my opinion on timing has changed. I’ve come to terms with the fact that taking time away from your writing is okay if you mentally need the break as long as you aren’t making excuses as to why you aren’t publishing.
New books are so exciting. Do you have more stories planned or that you’ve been working on for the future?
I plan on releasing I’d Strike the Sun and then the untitled third book from this series, and I have a short story that will be appearing in a horror anthology that another author friend of mine is putting out. I’m very excited for that, because I love horror and I really want to do the genre justice. As far as planned stories go, I think within the next couple of years I’ll finally start working on this story about a group of girlfriends who stumble upon a time machine and come up with the idea to charge people to use it. I’ve been wanting to write that for years but with Stars on Fire, I haven’t gotten the chance to.
Can you share a little bit about your main character’s, and what drives them?
The two main characters are Natalia and Alyse Morales, who are sisters. Natalia has superhuman abilities and is trying to hide the fact that she dreams about being a hero, but Alyse knows that Natalia has been sneaking out at night and fighting crime. Alyse is very against Natalia pursuing crime fighting, and Natalia cares a lot about what her family thinks of her. I love how outspoken and confident Alyse is. She really speaks her truth. I feel the most connected to Natalia, though. She’s ambitious and wants to use her abilities to make the world a better place. She just hasn’t built up the belief yet that she’s worthy of saving the day.
Some stories have strong themes. How important are themes in your writing? Is your theme based on the story, or are your stories birthed from a theme/or themes?
I have two standards for writing a book: one: it has to take place in a world that I’d want to live in, and two: it has to tackle a few issues that are important to me. I don’t necessarily plan out the themes, but once I’ve figured out the characters, I do start to ask myself what they’re struggling with internally so I can bring out more of it. I pick about one or two things that each character is dealing with and it needs to be relatable. Then I think some themes just happen without even trying. The reader might see something that I don’t. That’s the beauty of storytelling. It’s so subjective that it doesn’t have to be calculated.
Is the theme personal for you, or simply an important issue?
I try to write what I know, and my intention is to help young women through the issues that I wish I could have had the chance to work on when I was a teenager. Self-love, confidence, shame, depression, etc. I don’t think I could write something authentically if I didn’t have any direct experience with it.
I love to bounce around websites because I’ve found I can learn so much about an Author there. Do you have a website, blog, or other place where you showcase your work?
I’m primarily on Instagram, but I have Twitter and Facebook as well (@beckmedina for all of them). I have a website (beckmedina.org), but I admittedly am not very active on it. Instagram is where I share my writing process and all the latest news. I’ll share song lyrics, poetry, and snippets of my novels there, too. I’m also very passionate about personal development and mental health, so I post a lot about those things as well. I’d like to think of my account as a good mix of humor, inspiration, and documenting my own journey through life.
So many Authors are artists by nature. Do you have any other artwork or hobbies you do on a consistent basis?
I play guitar and sing. I used to be very insecure about my musical abilities, but I’m taking vocal lessons and working on building up my confidence to put my own music out. I host a podcast that is a blend of spiritual, creative, and entrepreneurial called the My Best Life Podcast. I also act and do comedy on occasion, but not as much as I used to.
What were your passions growing up?
Acting, writing, and singing. I used to devote all of my free time outside of school to the three.
What are your passions now?
Still writing and singing. My two cats. Reading. I love music and TV a lot. I’m pretty obsessed with Riverdale, Queer Eye, and American Horror Story at the moment. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll learn quickly that I am very passionate about the Jonas Brothers and Taylor Swift, too.
Thank you for joining us today. We’re looking forward to seeing the books you’ll be showcasing in the future.
Chapter ExcerptI go into my backyard and toward the fence that separates Boston’s house from mine. I lift up a broken piece of wood on the fence and crawl through it effortlessly into Boston’s backyard.
“You made it,” Boston exclaims as soon as I step off the ladder and climb into the treehouse.
Boston is sitting cross-legged, reading a worn out copy of A New Brain for Lavender Cross by Luke Danielson, a favorite of ours that came out this year. It will be the third time he’s devoured the book. One time more than me.
There’s a plastic coffee cup on the floor beside him and a perfect view of my driveway from here.
“What are you drinking?” I ask.
“An iced mango tea.” He picks it up and holds it out in front of me. The water from the melted ice has already soaked his hand wet. “Do you want to share it with me?”
I accept the cup from his hands and take a sip. When I hand it back to him, I wipe my hand against my joggers.
“Do you think your aunt will let me keep this?” Boston holds up a piece of paper labeled Serum 451 Active Ingredients List.
I forgot that Boston even that had. Back when Max and I were in Project 451, my parents were mailed a list of the ingredients that were in the serum before we were injected just in case anyone had an allergic reaction to it. A lot of people did. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but at least half of the volunteers got so sick within days after the injection and had to withdraw from training. Even Max caught a bug, but he quickly recovered from it. I don’t know anyone else in Academy that was susceptible to the serum like me, but Boston and I have had discussions about it. He thinks I may have already built up a tolerance to the ingredients.
Boston found the list while we were rummaging through the old filing cabinet that Aunt Rosa keeps all of our 451 documents in. We weren’t looking for anything in particular. Boston is obsessed with Project 451 and I’m always willing to feed into it. I let Boston borrow the list over the summer as long as he gave it back before I left. He knows everything about Project 451 even though I‘m technically not allowed to talk about it with anyone. I signed an agreement, but Boston is my best friend, and it’s not like he has anyone else to share our secrets.
The aspect we talk about most is the 451 Serum. The 451 Serum alters our DNA so that we can alter people’s emotions. He couldn’t believe it, and begged me to alter his emotions despite my being prohibited from doing it outside of training. I made him feel excitement, nothing harmful. Then I forced him to promise me that he’d never ask me to do it again. I don’t like being in control like that. Max is the one who wanted to become a Peace Officer, but I knew during our very first field lesson that I wouldn’t be taking my final exam. I just didn't know how I would be getting myself out of it. Thankfully the project got shut down before I had to come up with a way.
“You’re not going to try to make your own serum, are you?” I joke.
Boston huffs. “Yeah right, that would be so expensive.” Boston looks over the ingredient list for--most likely--the hundredth time. I know he has it memorized by now. “Most of the equipment used isn’t easily accessible, you know. Except in labs. I just thought it would be a cool thing to hold onto. Like I have a little piece of actual history with me.”
I smile. Boston’s intentions are always sweet. It’s his best quality. “You can keep it,” I say. “But maybe we should photocopy it in case Aunt Rosa needs it for whatever reason.”
Boston nods, his excitement radiating off his face as he holds the list close to his chest.
“Hey, I have something for you.” I just remembered that I hid Boston’s birthday present in his old toy chest.
I go to the toy chest and take out his present, wrapped in blue flannel wrapping paper from our party pantry. Boston accepts the present with bright eyes and places it on the floor in front of him so he can open it. He unwraps it with care, and I can tell he really loves to milk the process. Like savoring a delicious meal.
When he sees what it is, he practically screams. “Whoa! You did not get this for me!” He tears what’s left of the wrapping paper like a rabid animal and holds up the microscope. He admires the display picture on the box, which will be more difficult to take apart. He’ll have to open it up at home.
I didn’t think it would touch me this much to see how happy he is with his gift. I saved up all summer for it. He already had a microscope for kids, but I thought he needed a real one now that he was turning seventeen.
“Thank you,” he tells me, a little awkwardly. Boston’s shy about showing gratitude. I think it embarrasses him. He peers at the ground, then back up at me.
Then, impulsively, I hug him, burying my head into his chest. “Send me a letter as soon as you get settled at Crystal Lake.”
“And you can visit my grandma anytime. She’s only a five minute walk from your guys’ cabin. I googled it. She said she’ll make tamales for you if you give her a heads up.”
Boston bobs his head, and I feel him start to pull away from me. “I can’t breathe, Natalia. You’re really strong.” He pulls his knees to his chest. “Good to know that serum is still working.”
“Natalia!” I hear Aunt Rosa calls from the car. “It’s time to go!”
I turn back to Boston. “I guess Saturday family breakfast is starting earlier than expected.”
“And if your dad forgets to cook dinner and you're ever hungry, just go to my grandma’s house. She keeps the most amazing food stocked in the freezer.”
“Okay,” he says again, annoyed this time. Boston is all okays. I hardly know what he means by them anymore. “Natalia, don’t worry about me. I can survive two weeks without you.”
“Right,” I nod, realizing that I must be smothering him.
“I didn’t mean it like that. I just mean, don’t feel sorry for me, okay?”
I nod. I know I’m being especially maternal, but Boston’s mom left his dad just a few months ago, and his sister Shannon moved to New York to start her first year at Syracuse last week. Boston doesn’t have anyone to look out for him anymore. The problem is Boston’s dad is a total workaholic. He’s so focused on work that he remembers the things he’s forgotten to do well after he should have done them. “Damnit! I forgot the milk,” he would say out of nowhere in the middle of watching TV. Or, “The sink! Your mom told me to call a plumber about the sink!”
Plus there’s the kiss. On the day that Boston’s mom left, he kissed me in the treehouse we’re sitting in now. We never talked about it and it didn’t happen again, but I feel obligated to look out for the boy who’s as much my first kiss as he is my best friend. Mom would tell me not to think so fondly of any boy, especially a teenager full of hormones that he can’t control, but I could control them for the both of us. And Boston’s been my best friend since we were six. I trust him with my heart more than anyone.
I’ll admit that I’ve developed feelings for him after the kiss, but he never acted on it again, so I accepted that he probably did it out of fear or a need for comfort. But we remain each other’s protectors nonetheless. I think I have every right to make sure Boston’s okay on his trip.
Max told me that Boston’s at that age where he is ready to be a man and take care of himself. I guess Max must know from experience. But I know Boston better than anybody, and I can tell he appreciates that I do things for him. I can tell by the way he smiles to himself when he thinks I’m not looking.
Prima (I’m assuming) honks our car’s horn.
“I have to go,” I say.
Boston nods, and we make our way down the ladder.
A small part of me wishes I could have worked up the courage to give him one more kiss goodbye, but I refuse to believe that I have to act out of desperation for a romance to develop between us. If Boston wants to be with me, he’ll be with me when he’s ready.
When Beck isn't writing, she's the host of the My Best Life Podcast, a health, wellness, and business podcast for creative entrepreneurs. A few of Beck's favorite things include pop music, iced coffee, teen dramas, and her two cats, Olivia and Dupree.