Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that’s now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth’s robotic “mech” armies for decades with no end in sight.
After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel’s programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis–even though her plan to win the war will kill him.
Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel’s devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.
Claudia Gray is a pseudonym. I would like to say that I chose another name so that no one would ever learn the links between my shadowy, dramatic past and the explosive secrets revealed through my characters. This would be a lie. In truth, I took a pseudonym simply because I thought it would be fun to choose my own name. (And it is.)
I write novels full-time, absolutely love it, and hope to be able to do this forever. My home is in New Orleans, is more than 100 years old, and is painted purple. In my free time I read, travel, hike, cook and listen to music. You can keep up with my latest releases, thoughts on writing and various pop-culture musings via Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Goodreads or (of course) my own home page.
If you want to contact me, you can email me, but your best bet is probably to Tweet me. I don’t do follows on Twitter, but I follow everyone back on Tumblr, Pinterest and Goodreads.
PLEASE WELCOME CLAUDIA TO BOOKHOUNDS ya (SQUEEE!!!)
On Building A New World for DEFY THE STARS
With DEFY THE STARS, I didn’t just have to build one world: I had to build five, and all of them had to work together as part of a greater whole. In this series—set more than three hundred in the future—humanity is fleeing from a dying planet Earth, finding new homes throughout the galaxy. So I knew right away that the story called for lots of different worlds, which would have different climates and different cultures.
I started with the climates and built the cultures out from there. Once I knew that one would be a tropical waterworld, peaceful and beautiful, I also knew that world would be unfairly dominated by those in power—used to pamper the rich and work the poor. Still, even the workers would be charmed by the lilac skies and violet seas. I decided the planet must have been discovered last, when the most intense pressure for new settlements had passed. That led me to think it must have been discovered accidentally. The combination of being uncovered by luck and being a lucky find made me decide to call that planet Kismet. Beneath its fun-loving atmosphere and luxurious accommodations, there’s seething discontent—and the possibility of revolution.
Genesis would be the ideal world for humanity to settle on, and so it would also be the world that would try to break away from Earth’s control. Nobody else could be sure enough of making it on their own. The first thing I knew about Noemi—even before her name—was that she was a deeply religious person, even though she’s struggling with her faith. Her character essentially created her planet: A place that’s had a massive religious awakening, across many faiths, with no set dogma but a strong, shared determination that their duty to God means protecting Genesis from exploitation. As for what to call that planet? Anytime you can pick a culturally appropriate name and make a Star Trek reference, things are good.
Very early on, I knew I wanted a planet that would be one big science laboratory and fandom convention rolled into one. From that came the idea to make that planet not only a home for computers but also a massive supercomputer itself, powered by unique properties of the planet’s core. The surface could be all but uninhabitable, because, let’s face it: We of the fannish persuasion don’t tend to be super outdoorsy. So it became a world of tunnels, snug and insular, which gave hints about the culture. And what more perfect name could there be for the ultimate supercomputer than Cray—after Seymour Cray, the father of supercomputing?
Finally I wanted one world that was totally loyal to Earth, even though their setting would be the harshest and most unforgiving of all. For people to have that mindset while living in rough conditions, they would have to not only endure, but to also value endurance above almost any other virtue. In my mind’s eye, the landscape became very rugged, very gray. This would be a planet of miners and soldiers, an uncompromising but honest place. This planet was the easiest to name of them all: Stronghold.
I also worked out a whole history of the future—the way the next 300 years would unfold to bring humanity to the point where this story takes place—but that might be a post for another day…
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