Interview with Rosiee Thor
Updated: Feb 3
Brief bio: Rosiee Thor is the author of the upcoming YA novel Tarnished Are the Stars. It is scheduled to be released October 15th, 2019.
Hi Rosiee! I'm super excited for Tarnished to come out - I can't wait to read it! For those out there that don't know about your book, can you give us a short synopsis of it?
Yeah, sure! Tarnished Are the Stars is a science fantasy about three queer teenagers from very different worlds who must work together to save their planet from a deadly epidemic of heart disease... only they're bad at science and worse at feelings. It's the kind of adventure story I wanted to see in the world where queer kids get to save the day and their queerness isn't the source of the main conflict. They get to solve mysteries, fight fascism, and wear fancy hats all while being their authentic queer selves.
So, we have three main characters! Which character do you connect to most?
This is a tough one, since I gave a piece of myself to each of the characters in my book. No single character is exactly me, and each of them reflects different pieces that I do identify with. Anna's angry, reactive impulse is definitely something I share (and I'm working hard to curb). I also identify strongly with Eliza's ambition and Nathaniel's loneliness. All of these pieces are, or at one point in my life were, parts of how I defined myself, and are deeply rooted in the flaws I see in my own personality.
That makes sense. I guess this kind of goes with the previous question, but do you have a favorite character? Or a least favorite?
Is it cheating to say none of them? I don't really have a favorite or a least favorite. They were all fun to write, and I like them all for different reasons. I guess maybe the villain is my least favorite because they're just, you know, terrible? But even that feels a little reductive, since working on their terribleness was such an interesting experience. I don't know... I guess I'm just an author-cliché, but I love all my literary kids.
It is not cheating - based on your previous answer I would say it seems to match how you view your book and your main characters. Now that we know a bit about the book and how you relate to the characters in it, how is Tarnished a diverse read?
A big part of Tarnished is the main characters' sexual identities. All three are queer, and their queerness informs different parts of them and how they interact with each other and the rest of the world. Anna and Eliza are both Sapphic, while Nathaniel is Aro/Ace.
And what inspired you to write diversely? Or just inspired you to write in general?
Inspiration comes in many forms for me, but usually my book ideas stem from a strong, overwhelming emotion. I usually draw my conflicts from personal struggles, so anger and frustration inform a lot of my writing. More often than not these days that anger is about identity. Being erased and ignored, being threatened and harassed... these things don't inspire me, but writing specifically for the people who feel what I do, so they feel less alone and so I feel less alone, that inspires me.
That's an incredible way to look at it. Becoming part of a community, strengthening that feeling of belonging in others, and finding that you're not alone are great inspirations. I'm sure many people that read your book will appreciate being represented and seen. Speaking of diversity in books, what does the representation of diversity in books mean to you?
Really, there's so much to say about this, and not enough space to say it - and in many ways I'm the wrong person to say a lot of it. But for me personally, diversity in books isn't just about reflecting the diversity in the world we live in; it's about the future of diversity and the future of identity, and reflecting the diversity we hope to see in the world. For me this means not only writing about a world, like the one we live in now, where people must navigate a place where homophobia thrives, but also imagining a world where homophobia is rejected. It means creating hope and joy and community in fiction for people who may not have it in the real world.
For those that may want some more diverse reads, do you have a favorite book that includes diverse characters and voices?
I've never been the kind of person to have one favorite of anything. I get so stressed out about accidentally forgetting my real favorite, and realistically my favorite changes on any given day. Generally, my favorite books tend to speak to me on multiple levels. Sometimes they make me feel seen, sometimes they ask me to see myself in a new way, or sometimes they just get stuck in my head like a catchy song that won't quit and I can't stop thinking about them! A few books that did that for me recently are The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Wilder Girls by Rory Power, and Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram.
I'll have to check those out! Okay, one last question! Back to the basics - when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I don't remember the specific moment I realized I wanted to be a writer. It must have been when I was pretty young, though, because I started writing novel-shaped things in elementary school and never stopped. I do remember realizing that author was a real job people could have some time in High School. I discovered Marie Lu's blog where she was documenting her publishing journey - this was long before Legend. I don't think I'd really put it together until then that publishing was an industry and authors were people who got paid to write, not just names in pretty fonts on book covers.
And that's the end! Thank you to Rosiee Thor for being so willing and helpful in answering all the questions I had. Not all of the answers were integrated into this piece, but all the answers were thoughtful and thought-provoking in themselves.
If you want to check out Rosiee Thor's website, click HERE
Look forward to more interviews from authors, editors, and the like soon!