I read and adored The Sound of Stars – the way it balances hope and resistance. After reading, I knew I wanted to have Dow for an interview and ask all about world building and themes! Keep reading this interview to find out all about The Sound of Stars out February 25th!
The Sound of Stars
Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.
Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. With humans deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, emotional expression can be grounds for execution. Music, art and books are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.
Born in a lab, M0Rr1S was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for the love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.
Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while creating a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.
Which POV was harder to write?
The weird thing is…both POV’s in The Sound of Stars were easy to write. I sat down and they just came to mind, their personalities, their struggles, their loves… I find that when I struggle with a character, either I shouldn’t be writing them, or I haven’t really given them enough thought yet. Thankfully, Ellie and Morris just clicked from the beginning.
I loved the lyrics part of THE SOUND OF STARS, did you ever want to go into music? How did you decide to include them
I LOVE music so much. My dad, uncle, mom, grandfather (and more!) were musicians. Music was a big part of my childhood, and remains a big part of my life. I wanted desperately to go into music as a career, but it was a no-go for my family. One too many struggling artists… lol. I found writing was a great way to explore my love of writing lyrics. I broke THE SOUND OF STARS up into four parts, based on Starry Eyed song lyrics, to give the reader hints, and to add another layer of art. It brought me so much joy to write them, and include them, and I hope readers love them as well.
How did you decide which other books to feature in THE SOUND OF STARS in Ellie’s library?
It’s so weird to say this, but Ellie and I are not the same person, so her likes and loves are different to my own, and mostly that’s because of the age gap between us. When I imagined a teen of today and what they’d read, it would be diverse. A lot of books that feature diversity weren’t around when I was a kid. Because of that, I had to really sit and think about what Ellie would love to read, and what I would have read if I was a teen. Over the course of the years (and working as a Youth Services Librarian), I’ve read a ton of amazing YA books that easily matched to Ellie’s personality.
Part of what I loved about THE SOUND OF STARS is that you not only show the current situation of Ellie (and the racism post-aliens) but also the microaggressions of her life before the aliens even came. Can you talk about if this was an intentional choice to focus on Ellie and her family’s life beforehand?
It was absolutely intentional! Ellie’s past has changed her world perspective. It leads her to be a bit bitter, a bit unlikely to want to save humanity. While she wants to help those like her (readers)–––which she does by lending out her precious books although it could get her killed, she sees the world as it was and not how it could be. She’s justifiably angry, but over the course of the story, she finds a way to take back control and to feel empowered to want to fight for the future.
How has the process of being a debut living internationally been?
I think it’s a blessing and a curse. Being abroad while my book debuts in the US/Canada is isolating. Although I met some other international authors last year, it can be really lonely over here. That said, it also keeps me from getting too obsessive. I often don’t know what’s going on with Book Twitter, the drama or scandals… and this means I can focus more on my own work. I also can’t just stroll up to a store when my book releases, and that’s a good thing. Sometimes, though, I do wish that publishing isn’t so US-centric.
What are some books you’re looking forward to reading in 2020?
There are SO MANY books I’m looking forward to reading in 2020!! The ones I’ve read: I absolutely loved Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson, Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar is stunning, Glitch Kingdom by Sheena Boekweg was a hoot!, and Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin is intense, haunting, and so well written. I can’t wait to read Legendborn by Tracy Deonn Walker, Namina Forna’s The Gilded Ones, A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow, Where Dreams Descend by Janella Anngeles, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown, Rebelwing by Andrea Tang… I have so many more. But yeah, 2020 is going to be such a great year!
Aside from books, what is another of your passions?
I’m a professional pastry chef and a former librarian, so you can find me collecting and reading cookbooks whenever possible, and baking. I bake so much… honestly, even my neighbors ask what I’m baking every time I see them. Almost every day I get requests, both for sweets and recipes, which is so cool! I often post my creations on social media and the responses have been fun. There’s a real foodie community on social media, and I feel like I fit in well there.
About the Author
Alechia Dow is a former pastry chef, food critic, culinary teacher, and Youth Services librarian. When not writing YA sci-fi featuring determined black girls (like herself), you can find her having epic dance parties with her daughter, baking, mentoring, or taking teeny adventures around Europe.