I met Rosiee Thor at this year’s YallWest in Santa Monica, and when I heard about her debut novel, TARNISHED ARE THE STARS, I had to feature it. Even better, it’s set to debut on my birthday, October 15:
A secret beats inside Anna Thatcher’s chest: an illegal clockwork heart. Anna works cog by cog — donning the moniker Technician — to supply black market medical technology to the sick and injured, against the Commissioner’s tyrannical laws.
Nathaniel Fremont, the Commissioner’s son, has never had to fear the law. Determined to earn his father’s respect, Nathaniel sets out to capture the Technician. But the more he learns about the outlaw, the more he questions whether his father’s elusive affection is worth chasing at all.
Their game of cat and mouse takes an abrupt turn when Eliza, a skilled assassin and spy, arrives. Her mission is to learn the Commissioner’s secrets at any cost — even if it means betraying her own heart.
When these uneasy allies discover the most dangerous secret of all, they must work together despite their differences and put an end to a deadly epidemic — before the Commissioner ends them first.
What originally drew you to steampunk?
I’ll be honest, I don’t actually remember what drew me to steampunk. I remember liking it, and I remember feeling like the essence of steampunk vibed with the themes I wanted to explore, but I don’t remember the initial spark. It might have been an interview I saw about the steampunk community, or it might have been a pinterest photo, or maybe just the overwhelming desire to write about big hats. What I do know is that steampunk allowed me to explore the concept of technological advancement in an exciting way and really embodied the attitude of rebellion through technology, fashion, and social-constructs I wanted to partake in–and really, what more could you ask of a genre?
I think it’s that sense of rebellion that draws me to steampunk too. I love that TARNISHED ARE THE STARS is a queer adventure story. What do you hope readers will take away once they’ve finished reading it?
I have a lot of hopes… probably more than is wise, if I’m being honest. But really the main thing I hope readers take away from this book is that adventure belongs to queer people too. So often I see queerness used as a plot device, and I wanted to write something where queer characters could be queer without that being the point of their story. I wanted them to exist and fight for what they believe in and solve mysteries while being queer without their queerness being a roadblock of some kind. I think issue books can be so important, and we need those, but we also need books where queer kids get to save the day without anyone telling them they can’t simply because of who they are.
We absolutely do! I love the design of your website. What suggestions, if any, do you have for authors looking to build (or expand) their online presence?
Thank you! My website was designed by Gail Villanueva, who is an amazing graphic designer, and also a kidlit author! She did such a fabulous job of translating my personal aesthetic into a website and I could not be happier with it. As for advice, I think the best thing I ever did was give myself permission to be myself. So often I think people look for their personal brand and try to cultivate it, but the thing is… we all have personalities already, and most of the authors I see with successful online presences use their personality as their brand. Yes, it’s good to be cognizant of what we say online and how that connects to our author brand, but more often than not you already have the tools you need to build your brand right there in your handy dandy personality–you don’t have to pretend to be anyone you’re not.
Well said! What are some of your current projects?
I can’t talk a ton about my current projects yet, but I can say I’m working on another YA book. It’s got some fantasy… and some science… and lots of fire! It’s also starring queer characters, and while it isn’t steampunk, it’s got a similar vibe to my debut in that it’s grounded sff with a super fun aesthetic! Hopefully I’ll get to share more soon ?
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