To celebrate the release of Digging in the Stars, the latest book from Blaze Publishing, I decided to have a chat with author Katherine Blakeney to find out how Digging in the Stars came to be and the inspiration behind it!
This is your debut novel – how does it feel?
It’s absolutely thrilling! This is my first published novel, but definitely not the first one I’ve written. I’ve been writing since I learned how to hold a pen and I completed my first novel (also set in outer space) when I was 11 years old.
For Digging in the Stars I often referred to my old writers notebooks from the last 20 years or so. This is the fulfilment of a lifelong dream!
Where did you get your inspiration to write Digging in the Stars?
Digging in the Stars is about archaeology in outer space and it fuses numerous sources of inspiration that are a huge part of my life.
As the daughter of an eminent archaeologist, I have been doing archaeology since the age of 9. I was always a science geek as well and enjoyed reading about astronomy, vintage technology, geology, psychology, natural disasters, volcanology, and early cinematic effects, to name just a few.
I trained as an artist for many years and love museums and art history, particularly ancient civilizations. All of the above feature in some way in my novel.
The beings and characters in your novel all have very interesting names. How important are the names in Digging in the Stars?
I’m glad you noticed! Every single name in Digging in the Stars is a historical, cultural or cinematic reference to something that is special to me. Some of them will probably be more recognizable than others, but if you read closely, each name contains a hidden message about the character it belongs to!
Probably the most recognizable is the name of my main character, Carter. She’s named after famous British archaeologist Howard Carter who discovered the Tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922. I’d be very interested in seeing if my readers could figure out the meaning hidden in such names as Conrad and Dorian – feel free to contact me if you think you’ve guessed one!
Of all the amazing characters you’ve created, who is your favourite and why?
That is a tough question because I love them all! But if I did choose favourites, I have one Earthian character and one Throrian character who hold very special places in my heart.
The Earthian character is Professor P, Carter’s mentor and role model – professional, sarcastic and independent. She’s inspired by someone I know very well.
The Throrian character is Chief Treasurer Vanadival. He doesn’t get a great deal of space in this novel, but I have volumes of notes on his story and he will play a significant role in the sequel, where I’ll reveal his profound role in the tragic history of planet Thror and the lives of the Earthian characters.
If Digging in the Stars were to be made into a film, who would you cast as the main characters?
As an independent filmmaker and film historian I’d love to see a film adaptation! I think Sigourney Weaver would make for a charismatic and formidable Professor P. My ideal casting for Carter’s abducted boyfriend Conrad was a huge star in the early 1920s, so unfortunately he’s no longer available. If I were casting him today, I’d choose Tom Hiddleston. For Carter, I’d say Jennifer Lawrence and as for the mysterious and possibly dangerous “Grocer” – Richard Armitage would be perfect.
Would you say your novel has a lesson or moral to it?
The moral of the book can be summed up as “the future is created by the past.” The past and present are intricately intertwined and the characters of Digging in the Stars are only able to move forward in their quest when they begin to unearth the history of planet Thror and face their own pasts.
Were there alternate endings or story arcs that you considered, or was this very clear cut for you from the start?
When I started this novel, I had no idea how it would end! It evolved organically as I got to know the world and the characters more closely. By the time I reached the end I was as shocked as my characters by where we ended up!
What does your writing process look like?
As a professional stop motion animator (I have a BFA in animation from the School of Visual Arts in New York and have made numerous short films that have screened at film festivals internationally), I always begin any story with images.
I have to make my characters, sets, props, and costumes with my own hands as though I am making a film. Only then am I able to really connect with them and understand who they are, how their world works, and how they feel about themselves. You can see some of the characters I created for Digging in the Stars on my author website.
What are your favourite and least favourite parts about the writing process?
I love world building and research. The hard part is when I have to whittle down my massive notes into a coherent narrative and cut 90% of what I’ve created! That’s always agonizing.
So, here’s the big question on everyone’s lips: Are you working on another book? Absolutely! I am already deep into the sequel for Digging in the Stars!
Finally, would you like to say anything to your fans and readers?
I would like to invite all of you to my Release Day Party on Facebook. It takes place entirely online! I’m also always happy to speak to fans and answer questions, so please get in touch through my social media accounts if you’d like to!
Here’s how you can find out more about Katherine and follow her adventures in various ways!
You can read my review of Digging in the Stars here, and there’s also details of a Digging in the Stars competition run by Blaze there too!