Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on Cecil Castelluci's blog tour for the upcoming Tin Star! It comes out next Tuesday, February 25, and it's the story of a girl abandoned and left for dead on an out-of-the-way spacestation in a universe where humans are considered a lesser species. Her publisher has been kind enough to supply us with a hard copy of Tin Star for one lucky WFTM winner. If you'd like to see the rest of the stops on the tour, visit Macmillan's blog for a full schedule.
We are happy to have Ms. Castelluci stop by to discuss her thoughts on science fiction and alien inspirations and why she might ask an alien if she ever met one.
On Her Sci Fi Inspirations:
When I was growing up Star Trek was always watched when it was on and Star Wars was seen multiple times in movie theaters. My mom actually used to drop me off on Saturday's at the first showing of Empire Strikes Back and I would sit there all day, watching it over and over again till she'd pick me up at the end of the day. I know that movie by heart. Of course those are my classic go to's when I think about science fiction, but there was also the constant re-reading of Dune and The Tripod Trilogy. The discovery of James Tiptree, Jr. The Man Who Fell to Earth. E.T. Close Encounters. If it had a space ship in it or an alien then it was inspiring to me.
On What Inspired the Aliens in Tin Star:
I didn't want to overwhelm a reader of my book with too many descriptions so my feeling was that if you got to know some aliens and you got to know Tula and how she interacts with them, then you would get to know the aliens. Once you knew that, then I figured as a reader would understand how isolated she really is. I would say that with the aliens in Tin Star that I started with their hearts before their bodies. I knew who they were before I knew what they looked like. It's like their voice came to me and through their speech and their actions I could build their physicality out from there. Heckleck who is a Hort, is verbal, smart and calculating. I also knew that he should be scary looking to a human and very alien since he's the first one that Tula really meets. I thought that an insect-like creature would suit Heckleck's character best. When it came to Tournour, who is a Loor, I wanted him to have something external that sort of betrayed his emotions. Something that spoke for him when he wasn't speaking. I also wanted him to be different enough from human, but also have something familiar. So they are long limbed bipeds with antenna and a triangular patch of colored skin between their eyes, which are closest to human looking eyes that Tula has seen out in the galaxy. Then there is Thado, who works in the arboretum and who I imagine is a slow sort of being, one who swims through the trees that he cares for. I see him as a very large alien. In my mind, he's like a large aquatic creature with a blowhole whispering in low tones to the trees. So large that he's kind of comfort to them, with a deep voice that calms the flowers and soothes the air around the flora and fauna. So, for me, for these aliens, I worked inside out.
About Alien Chit Chat:
If I were to ever meet an alien, I would have lots to ask. I mean, first I'd be interested in their voyage. What stars did you see? What planets were your favorite? How comfortable were your quarters on your space ship? Was it a bumpy ride? Can I come over? What does art look like on your planet? Wanna go to the movies? Have you come in peace? Do you like chocolate? What is that thing? Where are your eyeballs? I figure they would ask me the same kinds of things.
Thanks to Macmillan and Roaring Brook Press, we have one hard cover copy of Cecil's new book, Tin Star, to give away to a lucky reader. The contest is open to those with mailing addresses in the US and Canada. It runs through the end of the blog tour, so it ends a 12:01 am CST on March 1. Good luck!
About the Book
On their way to start a new life, Tula and her family travel on the Prairie Rose, a colony ship headed to a planet in the outer reaches of the galaxy. All is going well until the ship makes a stop at a remote space station, the Yertina Feray, and the colonist's leader, Brother Blue, beats Tula within an inch of her life. An alien, Heckleck, saves her and teaches her the ways of life on the space station.
When three humans crash land onto the station, Tula's desire for escape becomes irresistible, and her desire for companionship becomes unavoidable. But just as Tula begins to concoct a plan to get off the space station and kill Brother Blue, everything goes awry, and suddenly romance is the farthest thing from her mind.
About the Author:
Cecil Castellucci is the author of books and graphic novels for young adults including Boy Proof, The Plain Janes, First Day on Earth, The Year of the Beasts and Odd Duck. Her picture book, Grandma’s Gloves, won the California Book Award Gold Medal. Her short stories have been published in Strange Horizons, YARN, Tor.com, and various anthologies including, Teeth, After and Interfictions 2. She is the YA editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books, Children’s Correspondence Coordinator for The Rumpus and a two time Macdowell Fellow. She lives in Los Angeles.