Amid Stars and Darkness
Chani Lynn Feener
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: July 18th 2017
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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.
Today we welcome Chani for an interview!
1. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else?
Up until I was around nine or ten, I wanted to be an artist. I’ve always loved to draw, and as a kid my parents encouraged my growing up to do it professionally. That’s probably why they weren’t too put off by the idea I wanted to write when I told them. They already expected me to join a difficult career that could possibly lead to being broke.
2. How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
It depends on the book. It can be anywhere from two weeks to two months. I wrote Amid Stars and Darkness in two weeks, for example, but book two took me about six to complete. I have another book I wrote in sixteen days, and another that I was working on for almost three months. If I’m really feeling a story, I can usually get it out pretty quickly, fortunately enough for me.
3. How do you come up with themes for your stories?
Dreams, TV, movies, other books…lots of different ways. I was obsessed with Greek mythology as a kid, which led to the Underworld saga I wrote. Amid Stars and Darkness was sort of inspired by that show, Ancient Aliens. Themes and inspiration sort of hit me and evolve from there as I write them down.
4. Do you have a schedule of when you write?
Whenever I can! If I’m feeling it and in the zone, then I’ll stop whatever else I’m doing and write. Aside from that, I try and make myself sit down at the computer at least every other day, if not every day. Life gets busy, so whenever I have the time, I make sure I put it in. I don’t like to set a time, like writing only at night or during the day, because stuff happens and it’s hard to guarantee I’ll always be free to do it.
5. How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?.
It’s difficult. Once I got out of college, it was hard hanging out with friends because I was so focused on putting those four years I paid for at school to good use. It took some time for my real friends to realize that this was a job for me, even if it didn’t outwardly look like one, and for me to find a good medium between working and not blowing them off. Now, I make sure I have at least a few days with no plans before I start a major project, and if I have edits from my publisher to do, I give everyone a heads up that I’ll be busy. I found a part time job that allows me to apply more time to my writing as well. Basically, writing comes first, especially while I try to establish myself, and then I find a way to fit everything else around it. Having supportive people in my life helps, and makes it easier.
6. What elements do you think make a great story line?
An engaging problem. Something that needs to be fixed or solved that really pulls the reader in and keeps their attention.
7. What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
Not losing faith in myself is always difficult. I’ll get to a certain part of the book and then suddenly feel like everything I’ve written thus far is garbage. It’s always tempting, at one point or another, to give up on the project all together. Then I power through it anyway, and usually by the next day I’m back to being motivated.
8. How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite?
Since I started, I’ve written seventeen books, but only a few of them are available or have ever been available. I think my favorite would be one that hasn’t yet been published, if I’m being honest. I wrote it about a year ago and it’s a little darker and edgier than anything else I’ve written. It deals mostly with the Unseelie fey, so the darker tone makes sense.
9. Do you have a favorite character?
In this book? I hate saying it, but actually Trystan would probably be my favorite. Only because he came out of nowhere and has such a complex background. I’m always discovering new things about him, which keeps him interesting to me as well. If you mean from any of my works, that would probably be Spencer from my book Unhinged. She starts out a little whiney, because her boyfriend is a ghost, but I can relate so much to her throughout the whole book.
10. Where do you write?
Typically at my desk. I’ve created a comfortable space for myself there with everything that I might need as I go, so I tend to stick to this spot. Sometimes I’ll write on my bed, if there are a lot of people around, so that I can put headphones in an focus, but usually I’m boring and sit at the desk like this was a regular office job.
11. When deciding on how to publish, what directed you to the route you took?
Well, I initially self published, but the goal was always to try and get traditionally published. Self publishing is great, because it give you a little more control, but for me, I’ve always wanted to backed by a publisher. I love having that support system, and that reach, and I’ve always known that’s what I ultimately wanted. Trying for Swoon was a no-brainer for me, because the platform called for romance stories geared towards young adults, and that was what I was most focused on at the time. I also loved all of the books that they’d chosen already, and the way the site was so interactively set up! I just knew I had to be a part of it!
12. Have you gotten feedback from family about your book(s)? What do they think?
I’ve gotten feedback from my best friend and my mom. The first, because she’s basically my beta reader. Every time I start a new project, she’s the first person to get to see it, and she reads it as I write, which is super helpful. My mom actually read the book a couple of times because she liked it so much. That was comforting, because I knew for certain she wasn’t just saying it was good because she’s my mom and has to!
13. What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?
I draw. Mostly I do portraits in colored pencil. I post photos on a separate instagram @TempestDraws. I also go to the movies a lot. I love the movies. That’s usually how I get time in with my friends, we do a movie and grab dinner at this cool diner. I know, my life is super exciting. I used to rollerblade a lot as well, but I haven’t had as much time for that recently.
14. What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing?
I would definitely tell anyone who wants to to go for it! Just sit down and write, whether you have it all plotted out or not. I wrote a lot of crappy stuff before I was able to find my voice as an author, and that’s totally okay. Just like with everything else, practice makes perfect. Don’t over think it. The great thing about writing is you can do it practically anywhere, and for as long as your schedule allows. Even if it’s only five minutes a day, that’s still something!
15. What is your favorite book? favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write?
I can’t choose just one, I have five, but I guess if I absolutely had to pick right this second, I would say The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Mostly because that book made me feel so much, and it’s the only book that I actually cried while reading. I also have a couple favorite authors, but sticking with the YA genre, I guess I’ll go with Maggie Steifvater, because The Raven Cycle is my favorite series of all time. So much so, I even got a tattoo. Pretty much every author inspires me. If I read their book and don’t like it, then I know what I don’t want to do in my own writing. If I read it and love it, then I have a better understand of the type of book I hope to write.
16. Do you have any go to people when writing a book that help you with your story lines as well as editing, beta reading and such?
My best friend Josie, like I mentioned earlier, is definitely my go-to person. She reads everything I write, and is usually the person I go to when I have a fresh idea. I don’t like to over plot before I start something new, so she’s usually left with only a partial understanding of what I want and gets the blanks filled in as I do! I also have a beta reader for all of my paranormal romance stuff, named Kayleigh, who is a tremendous help! She’s always super honest and helps push me to finish the book even when I start feeling self conscious about it.
17. Are you working on anything now?
I’m working on a couple things. I’ve got the next book in the Xenith trilogy, as well as the final book of the Underworld saga, and another standalone book in my paranormal romance series! So, I’m pretty busy. I also have a couple side projects that I try to get to every so often.
18. Tell us 5 things that make you smile
Cats. Coffee. The color yellow. Ed Sheeran. New books.
19. Tell us 5 things that make you sad
Empty bookshelves. An empty coffeepot (I really love coffee). When there’s a bad ending to a book/series I loved. Being stuck in a snow storm (I went to school in Vermont, so this happened frequently enough to make the list). And…bee stings? I don’t really know. Honestly, not much makes me sad.
20. If you could travel anywhere in the world to visit a place so you could use it as a background for a book, where would it be?
Cornwall! This is funny, so I’ll tell you: if you’d asked me this question three months ago, I would have said Ireland, hands down. However, recently there was that traveling commercial, with the guy in the orange jacket who always sounds so jovial when he says come to Cornwall, and…it worked. I really want to visit Cornwall now, and I would absolutely love to set a book there!
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.
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