Here we are with another awesome end-of-the-month interview and giveaway, this time featuring my amazing Author of the Month pick, Claire Luana, creator of the Moonburner Cycle . . . you know, that series I've been geeking-out over the last month? Yeah, that's the one!
You can read my reviews of Moonburner, Sunburner, and Starburner if you need any more incentive to pick up this series. And today I am featuring the author herself, who kindly agreed to answer my questions about her series!
And don't miss the giveaway at the end of this feature. Members of my Reader Group will have a chance to win a gorgeous autographed print copy of Moonburner or a set of all three books on Kindle!
Now let's hear from the author herself . . .
Thank you so much for agreeing to answer my fan-girl questions, Claire! I have been so excited about your series since discovering Moonburner last year, and it’s been great to get to binge-read the last two books in the series this spring.
Now, I have so many questions, but I’m going to limit myself to just five . . .
For starters, can you tell us the original spark of inspiration that ignited the Moonburner Cycle in your imagination? Was this a story you’d been thinking on for a while, or did it come at you suddenly? Did you start with a character, a concept, a scene?
CLAIRE: Thanks so much for having me on the blog, Sylvia! The inspiration for came to me back in 2014 (gosh that’s a long time ago!) I worked for several months outlining a trilogy of novels. But every time I started writing, I got stuck. I had another idea hanging around in the back of my mind and I decided to give into it. Within about 10 minutes I had a one-page outline of the plot and the title for Moonburner, my first novel. I think it’s really true what they say about the muse striking you!
The idea that sparked was loosely based on China’s One Child policy, which led to generations of Chinese families choosing to have boys over girls. It made me think: what would happen in a world where families didn’t want girls because those girls had some magical ability that was forbidden? This led to the premise of , where Kai, the main character, is born into a land where magic is forbidden to women, and she is forced to masquerade as a boy to hide her powers. Somehow, the moon and sun dichotomy just seemed like the right approach in a book about the power of women versus men.
Kai is such a wonderful character to follow as the series progresses. She starts out so out-of-her-depth, but by the time book 3 rolls around, she is quite the powerful, queenly figure. Where did this character come from? Is she based on anyone you know? A little bit of yourself perhaps? And was it difficult to depict her growth through the series, or did it come naturally?
CLAIRE: Kai was a very organic character to write. When I started this writing journey, I knew very little about character arcs, or fatal flaws, or any of that writerly stuff! I just tried to imagine how this girl would feel and act when she was thrust into all these new and dangerous situations. My husband has said Kai shares a lot of traits with me, but I never set out to write her like that! (Maybe I was imagining how I would react in those scenarios…) Kai’s progression and growth was definitely one of the parts of the trilogy that flowed the most effortlessly. (Unlike my current WIP, where I can’t seem to nail down what makes my protagonist tick to change my life! Sigh).
I loved that in Starburner you switched gears and focused the story on Kai’s daughter, Rika. I wasn’t certain I would love her as much as Kai, but she totally won me over as a character! What was it like for you jumping into the head of a new heroine? Did you find Rika to be very different from Kai, or were they surprisingly similar to write about?
CLAIRE: It was super fun to write Rika’s story. I originally wasn’t going to write a third book, but then I had an idea for a story where constellations come to life, and I knew that would fit in perfectly with the Moonburner series. Kai and Rika had a lot of similarities, but I didn’t want them to be too similar! I think their personalities were shaped by their childhoods and worldviews. Kai was mistrusting and grew up in a world of war and deception, whereas Rika pretty much had everything handed to her on a silver platter! I liked exploring the contrast of the fact that all Kai wanted as a kid was to get rid of her magic, whereas all Rika wanted was her magic to manifest. It shaped them differently.
Okay, so the world building in the Moonburner Cycle is just insanely beautiful. And what makes it most unique is the religious/spiritual aspect that you weave into the adventure. How did you go about developing your concept of gods, goddesses, demons, and the spiritual realm? Was there a lot of research involved, or did this mostly stem from your imagination?
CLAIRE: I based Moonburner and Sunburner on medieval Japanese society, and started tweaking and coming up with fresh ideas from there. It was really mostly based on what I imagined. Moonburner flowed pretty effortlessly, because it was really just the main god and goddess, but Sunburner took a lot of work and planning to try to figure out how the gods, demons, and realms fit together. A lot of trial and error went into it!
I knew with Starburner that it would have to be a different world, and so I decided to loosely base that book on Balinese culture and myth, in keeping with the Asian theme, but with a different feel. I did a fair amount of research, and much of what is in the book is incorporated from that culture. I came up with the third eye piece on the fly though. The drafting process always surprises me—things will come up while I’m writing that I never planned, but that go great in the story! That’s part of the magic of writing.
A little inside secret: the bad guys in Starburner are based on the movie Independence Day, which was one of my favorite movies growing up. There are even some nods to the movie in the book, if you know where to look, haha!
LOL! I'm going to have to go back and reread Starburner now with an eye out for those nods!
I’m curious to know about the publishing side of your story. Moonburner started with a small traditional house, but you switched to indie publishing before launching Sunburner and Starburner. What motivated this switch? And do you find yourself enjoying the indie publishing world? Do you plan to move forward independently with your next series
CLAIRE: When I was starting out in the publishing world, I did want to get traditionally published, I think mostly because I liked the idea of (1) being in bookstores and libraries, (2) having the validation of a publishing gatekeeper say my book was good enough, and (3) not having to figure out how to produce the book! I had a great process with my small press publisher up until the book came out, and then it was like…crickets. The book really wasn’t selling how I wanted, but the people I could get to read it really liked it, so it seemed like I had a good product. I had done a lot more research and networking by this point and saw a lot of tactics that indie authors were using that I just couldn’t use with a publisher.
Before Sunburner came out, I realized I wanted to try to give it a go myself, to see if I could reach more people and sell more books. I am one-thousand percent sure that was the right call. It can be daunting to figure everything out and do it all yourself, but once you get it down, the freedom and flexibility is so wonderful. You can do exactly what you want with your book when you want. Oh, and make way more money doing it! I highly recommend that writers talk to both traditionally and indie published authors before they decide which route to take, in order to really understand the pros and cons of both options.
I do plan to indie publish my new trilogy, the Confectioner Chronicles. Those three books, and the prequel novella, will be coming out in October, November, and December of this year! Subscribers to my newsletter will be getting that prequel novella for FREE in July (in case anyone is interested!).
Thank you so much, Claire! Before you go, do let my readers know where they can connect with you. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram?
CLAIRE: Thank you Sylvia! Readers can connect with me at the following spots online:
Website & Blog
I hope all of you will snatch up the Moonburner Cycle as soon as you get a chance! And speaking of chances . . . Why not enter the giveaway for a chance to win one or all three of these great stories?
The giveaway is exclusively for my Reading Group members, so if you're not a member, sign up now! You'll receive an email later today with the secret link to the giveaway page where you can enter your name.