Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne releases tomorrow, May 1st, and today on the blog tour I am hosting an guest post from Alexa Donne! Check out all the book information and be sure to enter the tour-wide giveaway!
Seventeen-year-old Stella Ainsley wants just one thing: to go somewhere—anywhere—else. Her home is a floundering spaceship that offers few prospects, having been orbiting an ice-encased Earth for two hundred years. When a private ship hires her as a governess, Stella jumps at the chance. The captain of the Rochester, nineteen-year-old Hugo Fairfax, is notorious throughout the fleet for being a moody recluse and a drunk. But with Stella he’s kind.
But the Rochester harbors secrets: Stella is certain someone is trying to kill Hugo, and the more she discovers, the more questions she has about his role in a conspiracy threatening the fleet.
How I came up with the names of my characters, spaceships, etc?
Character and world building are some of my favorite parts of the writing process, and for Brightly Burning, which mixes the classic novel Jane Eyre with a futuristic space setting, it was especially fun. Also, warning, I am a Ravenclaw, so I may have thought way too much about all this!
For character names, I both took my cues from Jane Eyre—in some cases keeping the same names for characters—and extrapolated from current naming trends. Many character names have a hint of the old-fashioned—Hugo, Bianca, Iris—or remain the same from the classic—Grace Poole is still there, and St. John is still Jon.
I tried to extrapolate from current baby naming trends, and so often parents are inspired by big cultural events or trends, as well as celebrities. Since Brightly Burning is set after a horrific natural disaster renders Earth inhabitable, I thought many future parents would likely give their children hopeful or wistful names—Destiny, Joy, Arden, Faith. And, of course, many would be inspired by space and the stars—I have an Orion, Jupiter, and of course my main character, Stella Ainsley. (fun fact: Orion is actually a wink/nod to Beth Revis’ Across the Universe, used with her permission!)
There’s more to Stella’s name, as well. Stella of course means star—and she and Hugo discuss that meaning in the book—and her last name means solitary. The original title for Brightly Burning was Solitary Star, and I was being a bit clever. So Stella’s name is literally the original title, backwards, but it also fits her character quite well!
And then the ship names were a bit more straightforward, in many ways! The primary ships in the fleet are based around the six nations/organizations that currently have full launch capabilities, which are: United States, Russia, China, Japan, India, and the European Space Agency. I gave the ships names that harken to major cities or cultural constructs for the countries/cultures that would have built the ships: The Lady Liberty (United States), The Empire (UK), The Saint Petersburg (Russia), The Shanghai (China), The Mumbai (India), The Nikkei (Japan), and so on. Private ships like The Rochester and The Ingram are named after families (or, really, just are cute nods to Jane Eyre!), much like The Stalwart—which is American, but has that name because I wanted to wink at the austere environment of Lowood School.
While we’re on the topic of how I came up with things, I do want to address the fake curse word used in the book. I know they drive some people crazy! I use the word “frex” as another hat tip to Beth Revis—she gave me permission to use her curse word (which had story specific significance in her world!), and I just thought it would be fun to use it.
I could probably go on, but I’ll stop there! I love sci-fi in part because it enables me to extrapolate from the real world and logic to come up with things that have just a touch of the fanciful. I really enjoyed naming things in Brightly Burning, as a result!
Alexa Donne is a Ravenclaw who wears many hats, including fan convention organizing, teen mentoring, college admissions essay consulting, YouTube-ing and podcasting. When she’s not writing science fiction and fantasy for teens, Alexa works in international television marketing. A proud Boston University Terrier, she lives in Los Angeles with two fluffy ginger cats named after YA literature characters. Brightly Burning is her debut novel.
Alexa is represented by Elana Roth-Parker of Laura Dail Literary Agency.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of BRIGHTLY BURNING, US Only.
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