Today on Indie Spotlight I would like to introduce you to Starwing.
Starwing is an author living in Finland, who was born and raised in Canada. Her debut novel, “Dreaming Your Dream” is dystopian science-fiction and is the first book in the “Machine Dreaming” series.
In addition to writing, Starwing also manages an indie record label and is a team member of the industrial rock band, The Fair Attempts. “Dreaming Your Dream” has a companion album called, “Dream Engine” by The Fair Attempts.
Contact Starwing here:
Hello Starwing, welcome to my blog.
Dreaming Your Dream is your debut novel What made you decide to publish it independently?
I learned about independent publishing almost three decades ago by attending an informative lecture by a local author at the library in my hometown. He discussed the pros and cons that existed at the time, and I followed developments in indie publishing over the following years. When I decided to publish my debut novel (not the first one I wrote), I had already been managing an indie record label for a few years, so you could say there was no question for me! The opportunities for independent creators make it easier than ever for creative people to get their work directly to the audience without a middleman.
What do you see as the benefits of being an indie author?
The most obvious benefit is maintaining complete creative control. I like to write the stories that come to me, not the ones someone else wants me to create. It was especially important to me to maintain creative control over my debut novel because I wanted it to be illustrated, which meant I needed to choose the right artist to work with and also have control over every aspect of the art. Other important benefits are being able to set your own royalties by choosing the sale price of your books, and having control over the distribution of your work.
Those are all important aspects of maintaining control over your creativity. What challenges do indie authors face?
Promotion is the most significant challenge, I think. You need to discover what works for you and your book, and what doesn’t. You need to try various campaigns and test different ad copy, keywords, marketing strategies, and create eye-catching book ads for websites and social media—you can get advice on these things, but it’s mostly on you to learn for yourself.
What advice would you give to aspiring indie authors?
The first thing you need to know is what you want for your book: the formats you want to create, how you want to distribute your book, and which marketplaces you want to sell your book at. Once you know exactly what you want, it’s much easier to research your options and compare different services you can use for publishing your book. I wanted to create physical formats so readers could touch the artwork in the book, but I also wanted the option to create a Kindle ebook. For the printed books, I needed complete control over the book design and the ability to work through a test printing stage to make sure each of the illustrations had the correct light and dark levels when they were printed. Knowing my needs made it easy to narrow down my options. I had to use two publishing services to provide a Kindle edition, but I didn’t settle for less or what would be easiest.
What have you learned from being an indie author?
I learned that you can and should give your book a better launch by contacting book reviewers and sending ARCs to any who are interested and will be able to review your book in time for its release date. I also learned that there are many “promotional services” that exist to exploit indie authors—it’s far better to do the hard work than fall prey to scams. Truly, the amount of scams I’ve come across in the indie publishing world is even worse than the exploitation industry built around indie music!
It must be difficult to avoid all of those scams.
What can we look forward to seeing from you in 2021?
While I’m writing the sequel to my debut novel, I will also be sharing some short stories on my website that are based in the same dystopian future—including some that take place prior to the timeframe of the book series, which explore the challenges of survival within that society at different stages of its development. I will also be collaborating on another album inspired by the events, characters and feelings of my next book. The cover art for all the singles and the album will feature my husband doing cosplay of the boogeyman I created for the books—participating in that visual art has me so excited! The album will be released in late autumn and is called “Signals.”
That’s all sounds exciting! I hope all goes well with your sequel and accompanying album and look forward to seeing more from you in the future. Thank you for joining me on my blog today!
Dreaming Your Dream – Book One of Machine Dreaming
This illustrated novel tells the tale of a dystopian future where, following a war that nearly devastated humanity, the survivors partnered with Artificial Intelligence to create a brighter future.
The people enjoy a virtual utopia every night by using interactive dream technology, but their computer-generated dreams are the only source of entertainment available. The AI determined that the root cause of all harmful human behaviours was uncontrolled emotions, but balanced, harmonious emotions are an integral aspect of wellness. It concluded that the only way to reliably achieve that was to eliminate emotion while a person was awake, then provide a safe way to experience the complete range of human emotions while engaged in dreaming.
The story follows a man who struggles to hide the fact that he can still feel a low level of emotions during the day. He must keep his secret emotions and his mind strictly controlled—through the use of meditation—but he continues to make that harder and harder to accomplish when his life is on the line.
Science Fiction / Dystopian]
Includes 50 Film Noir inspired illustrations by Melinda Maria Lack
Available at Amazon in print formats: https://amazon.com/Dreaming-Your-Dream-Starwing/dp/1034005421/ and for Kindle: https://amazon.com/dp/B08N6V2X9S/ It can be found on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56300088-dreaming-your-dream
Read my review of Dreaming Your Dream here
Artwork Previews – Illustrations by Melinda Maria Lack
The 50 Film Noir inspired illustrations in Starwing’s novel Dreaming Your Dream go a long way to help build up the dark dystopian atmosphere of the story, with its characters all wearing gas masks as they go about their daily business in a world ravaged by war and robbed of oxygen.
This illustration features the main character, John, with a young girl he helped at the beginning of the story. They’re riding one of the self-driving busses that are used to get around the city. Gas masks are required outdoors—in part because humans severely damaged the environment of the planet, but the AI they turned to concluded that attempting to undo the damage was unnecessary and a waste of resources, so the environment was modified to reduce rust and damage to machines caused by oxygen.
This scene is from Celebration Day—the only “holiday” observed in society, which celebrates the formation of the partnership between humans and AI. The citizens are required to attend a gathering in their city to watch various presentations and receive gifts from the government. Despite being called a celebration, there is nothing festive about the gathering because the majority of attendees have no emotional awareness during the daytime.
This illustration features the Ruiner, a boogeyman from stories told to children to keep them from venturing into the ruins that surround the cities. The Ruiner is seen by John in one of his AI-generated dreams. John prefers to experience a randomly selected dream sequence rather than choose his own dreams. (The Ruiner character will become an important symbol of a secret society in the next book, which is why the costume will be used for upcoming art and music projects.)
This scene is one of my personal favourites and it’s from another one of John’s dreams. Most of the dream sequences in the novel include foreshadowing through dream symbolism, and water is a common motif because it relates to emotions. This dream comes up for John after a great deal of hardship and turmoil, and Melinda Maria Lack expertly captured the sense of comfort and tranquility conveyed by the dream sequence.
Who’s Next on Indie Spotlight?
E.G. Radcliff is a part-time pooka and native of the Unseelie Court. She collects acorns, glass beads, and pretty rocks, and the crows outside her house know her as She Who Has Bread. Her fantasy novels are crafted in the dead of night after offering sacrifices of almonds and red wine to the writing-block deities.