Interview with F.T. Lukens

I am thrilled to share an interview with F.T. Lukens, where we discuss the third and final installment in her Broken Moon series, which comes out on October 11! The message of this queer magical science fiction YA series is right up my alley, and I am honored to get a peek inside the inspiration for it.

A Bit About F.T.

F.T. Lukens is an award-winning author of Young Adult fiction. Her novel, The Rules and Regulations of Mediating Myths & Magic received multiple awards, including the 2017 Foreword INDIES Gold Award for Young Adult Fiction and the 2017 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Award for Best Teen Fiction. Zenith Dream is the final installment to her Broken Moon series, which also includes The Star Host (2016) and Ghosts & Ashes (2017).

An Interview with F.T.

How would you describe yourself to a new reader just discovering your work?

I would describe myself as a massive geek who loves sci-fi and fantasy in all forms and that my work is informed by all the media I’ve consumed since I was a kid. I love sci-fi tropes, but I also love subverting tropes. I’d also say that I believe that all kids/teens deserve the opportunity to see themselves represented in media which is why I’m trying hard to write stories with main characters that haven’t historically been heroes – queer kids, kids with mental illness, poor kids etc. Because I’ve been that kid looking for representation of myself in the stories I love and been disappointed when it wasn’t there.

What inspired the Broken Moon series?

I wanted to create a magic system in space. I love magic and sci-fi – stories like Star Wars and Firefly. And I wanted to create a magic story but across planets, drifts, and spaceships. I wanted to take sword and sorcery and mix it with technology and see how that would look.

Also there was a youtube video of Neil deGrasse Tyson explaining how humans are made of stardust and how our atoms contain the same elements of space and it really struck me how amazing and special that is. That video inspired the magic system but also the overarching message of the books.

What do you hope your readers take away from the Broken Moon series?

That they are made of stardust and can accomplish anything. They can be the heroes of their own story and to just persevere. I know it can be difficult, especially with everything going on around us, and sometimes just holding on, existing can be a form of resistance. Sometimes things just suck but find your crew—the people who make you better, the people who care for you, the people you care for, the people who will stick beside you no matter what. Find those people and take care of each other and you will make it through.

What was the most challenging scene to write in Zenith Dream?

I don’t know if it was the most challenging but the most meaningful to write was the epilogue. I have been with these characters since 2015 now and to give them closure of their adventure was the best feeling but also bittersweet. I loved wrapping up all the loose ends and story arcs that I started in The Star Host, and I loved giving the characters the ending they deserve. But I am going to miss them—Ren and Asher especially. These guys are the OTP of my heart and I’m just happy that I was able to give them three whole books about their adventure together.

Can you share with us something about Zenith Dream that isn’t in the blurb?

I created a new character for Zenith Dream who is not in the first two books. Her name is Darby and I’d classify her as a rogue. I’ve described her as my Lando, she doesn’t have a solid allegiance to anyone until the crew of the Star Stream give her a reason to trust them. I loved writing her. She was a great addition to the original cast.

Where do you usually write? What needs to be in place to make writing possible for you?

I must have music to write. I create playlists for each book with songs that either fit the theme or certain characters. Each song has to be upbeat as well, so I can get into a rhythm of typing.

Here is a list of songs I listened to obsessively while writing Zenith Dream:

  • Fall Out Boy – The Last of the Real Ones
  • Rise Against – Prayer of the Refugee
  • Breaking Benjamin – Diary of Jane
  • X Ambassadors – Unsteady
  • Imagine Dragons – Believer
  • Bastille – Pompeii
  • Disturbd – Sound of Silence

I also write at my desk, which is basically a holding ground for my collection of Funko POP figures and other action figures. I have art hanging everywhere too—a mixture of Van Gogh and fan art of my favorite comic book characters. It’s definitely eclectic and inspiring.

What book is currently on your bedside table that you can’t wait to begin reading?

I am excited about Beth Revis’s upcoming Give the Dark My Love which is a fantasy story about necromancy. It comes out this month and I’m hosting an event with her and Carrie Ryan at our local indie bookstore. I can’t wait to dive into the book.

What’s next on the horizon for you?

I have so many irons in the fire right now. I have a queer high fantasy that I’m working on that I’m almost finished with. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it, but it exists. And I have a sequel to one of my other books that I need to work on as well. And something I’m co-writing with a friend that is a rom-com urban fantasy. And I’m planning to collaborate with an artist on another project. So lot’s of projects coming up!

More About Zenith Dream

Zenith_Dream_coverIn the Broken Moon series finale, Ren, a technopathic star host in search of his lost brother, wakes from life-threatening injuries to discover his love, Asher, has returned to his position with the Phoenix Corps. Aboard the private trading ship, the Star Stream, the crew informs Ren the draconian Corps leaders believe he’s dead. No longer hunted for his powers, he has an opportunity to disappear, but Ren is determined to fix his mistakes. He convinces the crew to join him for one last dangerous mission: Find Asher, free his brother Liam, and escape the Corps’ reach forever. But a war is brewing between two formidable armies, and Ren is drawn into the conflict. With friends by his side, Ren must make a choice, and it will affect the future of his found family and the whole star cluster forever.

Content Warnings for Zenith Dream

  • Depictions of panic attacks
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Kidnapping and imprisonment of minors
  • Depictions of violence
  • Depictions of torture (not graphic)

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