Interview with Author Melanie McFarlane

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When I was in eighth grade, my friend and I talked about a story in which a girl living inside a biodome meets/falls for someone from the outside. We were both pretty captured by the idea of a story like that, but of course, never wrote anything. Then one day, I saw an email about this book, There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane, and I was like hey! How awesome! I knew I had to contact my friend Julie and get myself a copy of this book.

There Once Were Stars Cover

About There Once Were Stars

Peace. Love. Order. Dome. That’s the motto that the Order has given the residents of Dome 1618 to live by. Natalia Greyes is a resident of Dome 1618, a covered city protected from the deadly radiation that has poisoned the world outside for four generations. Nat never questioned the Order, until one day she sees a stranger on the outside of her dome. Now Nat wants answers. What else might her government be hiding from the good and loyal people of Dome 1618?

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Author Interview: Melanie McFarlane talks inspiration, makes me wildly jealous, and teases us about the rest of her series.

Here today, the author of There Once Were Stars has graciously joined us to answer a few of my burning questions about the book. Let’s see what she has to say…

A story is often inspired by a question. Was there a question that inspired you to write this novel?
Why do people only question their governments for the duration the question lasts in the media?

That’s a great question, and really worthy of exploring. I get the feeling our heroine, Natalia, will explore past that point. Were there things about Natalia which couldn’t be included in There Once Were Stars? Can you tell us a little bit about something you know about the story that the reader may not know?
We think Nat is strong, standing up against her grandmother, Jak, the Director, and the Order. But is she? Why did she fall for Evan so easily? Will he be her greatest weakness? She survived all those years building up walls…but will letting them down be her downfall? Can she survive loss again? All of the above will be answered in the sequel, A STAR SHINES DARKLY.

Nat sounds really complex. I love that. She’s definitely lived a different life than we live. Is there a scene or moment in There Once Were Stars that really sticks with you? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
This scene is near and dear to my heart because it’s the moment Nat realizes the outsiders can see her. The scene gives you a bit of setting and the powerful emotion of fear.

I gasp out loud as his partner turns toward me. There’s no way they can see me; a foot of shock-proof glass, spotted in dust, stands between us. I’m on the inside, under the broad cover of the dome, protected behind the tinted façade, while they stand on the outside, open to the harsh world that was destroyed long before my time. But still, against all odds, our eyes connect. A smile breaks at the side of the man’s mouth as another gasp escapes my lips. My hands jump to my mouth to hold my screams inside.

They see me.

I get chills reading that scene. It would be so strange and terrifying to realize you’re inside this contained space, and there are others watching from outside your contained world. If you had to give up our world to live in Natalia’s dome, what would you miss most?
I would miss being outside, no matter how well the artificial one has been engineered inside the dome. You will see more of this in Book 3, when the outside is taken away from Nat again…but that’s all I can say!

Wow. You’re leaving us all kinds of great teasers for later stories. I’m getting excited for the whole series! What was the most difficult part to write in There Once Were Stars? What made it so challenging?
The story came to me so quickly, I found it challenging to find the time to write it. I literally spent every waking moment working on it outside of my day job, and time with my children in the evenings and weekends. It was all-consuming.

Okay, now I’m actually just plain jealous! Haha. How awesome, though, to be so filled with the story that you just have to write it. What do you most hope that readers take away from your novel?
Never be afraid to question things and always try fight to protect the weak. A world without compassion isn’t a world worth fighting for.

Those are great life lessons, especially today. Compassion, especially. Let’s switch gears and talk about reading. Is there an up-and-coming author you’re following with interest right now? Can you tell us about an author or novel you think deserves a greater spotlight?
I absolutely LOVE Elisa Dane’s ABANDONED and IN THE AFTER. Two amazing, gut-wrenching YA contemporaries that put this fantastic author on my radar.

I’m a huge fan of YA Contemporary, the more gut-wrenching, the better! I will definitely have to check these out. And I’m looking forward now not only to There Once Were Stars, but to the series as a whole! Thanks again, Melanie, for joining us today.

Melanie McFarlane

About Melanie McFarlane

Whether it’s uncovering the corruption of the future, or traveling to other worlds to save the universe, Melanie McFarlane jumps in with both hands on her keyboard. Though she can be found obsessing over zombies and orcs from time to time, Melanie focuses her powers on writing young adult stories to keep the rest of the world up reading all night.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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