Do you love sci-fi books? What about the heist trope? Then Made of Stars by Jenna Voris was made for you! This new release has got it all, including romance! We had the chance to chat with Jenna about all that and more, in this exclusive interview.
Summary: Shane and Ava are a team. He steals the aircraft, she charms their mark, and together they take what they need. Not even their distracting chemistry could get in the way. Until Shane was caught and left to rot on a prison moon. Now, freshly escaped from confinement and simmering with anger, he has his sights set on their biggest job yet.
Cyrus just graduated from the flight academy with a shiny new position lined up reporting to a well-respected general. On his very first assignment, he stops the outlaws in their tracks—or he would have, if his annoyingly handsome copilot, Lark, hadn’t fallen for Ava’s deception.
But when Shane uncovers a top-secret plot that would leave his and Ava’s home world at the mercy of Cyrus’s military leaders, he makes it his mission to thwart them at all costs. It isn’t long before the two of them make interstellar headlines with each new heist. And thanks to a chance run-in with the rebels, Cyrus is caught between two versions of the truth. He must pick a side—and fast. Because Shane and Ava will bring the planet to its knees . . . or die trying.
Content Warnings: blood, violence, gore, descriptions of blood/bodies, murder (including mass murder), torture, war themes, weapon use/gun violence, PTSD and flashbacks, and grief over deceased friends
Welcome to The Honey POP! We’re so excited to talk to you today. To get things started, we’d love to get to know you a little better. Could you give us three fun facts about yourself?
Hi, I’m Jenna! I can quote every line of Legally Blonde (both the movie and the Broadway musical), I have two gold medals from marching color guard, and I have never once kept a houseplant alive.
Congratulations on your YA debut Made of Stars! What was your experience like publishing your debut novel? Was it how you had imagined?
I feel like everyone’s path to publication is so different. Made of Stars was not the first book I wrote, so I already had some experience in the query trenches by the time I finally found my agent. I had recently done a big revision with a mentorship program, but I did another one with my agent before we went on submission. It was the first time I realized that most of being a traditionally published author is writing and rewriting the same handful of chapters until you die (or your publisher accepts the book, whatever happens first). I did another big round of revisions with my editor, so the final, published version of Made of Stars is way different than the one I started with. I couldn’t imagine it any other way, but if you went back in time and told 2019 me how much time I would spend rewriting this book, I would have probably combusted on the spot.
Made of Stars features top-secret plots, space warfare, and romance! What would you say was the most challenging aspect of writing this story?
For me, it was always the three POVs. I knew there needed to be three for the story to make sense, but figuring out how to weave them into one cohesive plot was a challenge. They’re each such strong, driven characters but they also want such different things. Making them work together in a way that served the overall story arc was definitely a challenge.
If you were transported into the world of Made of Stars what would you do? Which character do you think you’d get along with the most?
In another world, Cornelia and I would be besties. We are both Sagittarius who are 100% down to quit our jobs and flee the country at any given moment.
The idea of Bonnie and Clyde in space is so intriguing, it immediately caught our attention. Are there any other famous moments/figures from history that you would like to feature or take inspiration from for future books?
I would love to do a sapphic Orpheus/Eurydice retelling! I think that story is so beautifully tragic and there are so many fun ways to make it work in a sci-fi/fantasy setting.
Shane and Ava’s “will they/won’t they” situation was so much fun to read about. What is your process for creating such great romantic chemistry between characters?
Before I can write about characters in a relationship, I need to know who they are outside of it. I wanted Ava and Shane to be strong, well-rounded characters with their own thoughts and feelings. They care for each other very deeply, but they also want very different things. That itself was a great source of tension both in and out of the relationship and a very fun thing to play with.
We love getting a look at the behind-the-scenes aspect of writing books. Were there any interesting concepts or fun scenes that you loved that didn’t make it into the final book?
So much of this book changed over the last two years and I did leave a lot of things on the cutting room floor. Looking back, everything we cut was totally necessary to create the story we have now, but there are a few I miss. There was one scene where Ava and Clara just got to go shopping together, which was super fun for me but apparently not great for the actual plot.
Do you have any favorite quotes from Made of Stars that you could share?
I used to have a full title drop somewhere in the third act. It got changed at some point in revisions and now it’s “if the two of them were stars, they would be a supernova.” I love that some version of the original line made it in the final draft.
Out of the three main characters in Made of Stars, which would you say is the most like your teenage self?
My teenage self was definitely Ava. I was a theatre kid, I thought I was going to be famous, and I kept a very detailed personal diary just in case it ended up in a museum one day.
Getting immersed in magical new worlds is something we love the most about reading sci-fi books. Do you have any advice to give new writers looking to improve their world-building skills?
I feel like everyone says this, but read! When I first started writing YA, I read as much as I could in that genre. Not only did it help me get a feel for what, exactly, was being published, but it also taught me so much about craft and structure. I never took an actual writing class and had never heard the phrase “four act structure” until I was well into my first draft. Reading other people’s books taught me what worked, what storytelling techniques I liked, and which weren’t for me.
Heists are one of our all-time favorite tropes, and the fact that these take place in space makes it even better. What are your favorite tropes to write or read about?
I love a good romance trope—only one bed is such a win for me. I’m also a fan of forced proximity and rivals-to-lovers. Basically, anything with a good angsty slow burn is going to get me reading.
Along with Made of Stars, there are so many amazing books being released this year! Are there any other 2023 releases that you’d recommend?
Yes! If Tomorrow Doesn’t Come by Jen St. Jude comes out in May. It’s a heart-wrenchingly beautiful story that I read in a single sitting. Also, keep an eye out for Together We Rot by Skyla Arndt and A Study in Drowning by Ava Reid coming out this fall.
Thank you so much for your time and for chatting with us about Made of Stars! We’re so excited to read your upcoming book Every Time You Hear That Song. Could you tell us more about it? How has the process of creating that book been different from Made of Stars?
Yes! It’s a dual-timeline/dual-POV sapphic road trip book about a girl whose favorite singer dies and leaves behind a time capsule to be opened at her funeral. But when they open it, the time capsule is empty and she has to go on a cross-country quest to find the missing music. I actually wrote that book before I had an agent. At the time, I purposefully made it as different as possible from Made of Stars because I heard that YA sci-fi could be a tough sell and I wanted a backup in case querying didn’t work out. Even though it’s a contemporary book set in our world, it turned out to be a much more challenging and personal writing process. There aren’t any epic space battles to worry about, so the characters’ emotional journeys were the real heart of the story.
Grab your copy of Made of Stars here!
We had a blast talking with Jenna Voris all about Made of Stars! Be sure to add it to your tbr! What’s your favorite planet? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us @TheHoneyPop! You can also visit us on Facebook and Instagram!
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Find Paige on Instagram @pagebypaigebooks. Paige is a bookstagrammer and blogger who loves all things bookish. From fantasy to mystery she can’t get enough! She’s always ready to recommend you a book and she can talk about her favourites all day. When she’s not reading, you can find her watching Marvel movies, playing video games, and taking bookstagram photos.