Its here its here its here!! I cannot tell you guys how excited I have been for this! Its been in the making for a little while and I’m so excited to get to do this and eternally grateful to Maura for taking the time to do this with me!
Last month I read a book called Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan that was kindly sent to me by the publisher Albert Whitman & Company! This book was fantastic and I am so stoked for its release on September 4th so be sure to pre-order!!
So naturally after that amazing book I had a ton of questions and I really tried to pick ones that would help us get to know who Maura Milan is!
If your like me and you keep up with her Instagram stories you probably know a little bit but I really think this interview helped me so much more!
Anyways here goes I hope you guys enjoy!
Everyone in the universe knows his name. Everyone in the universe fears him. But no one realizes that notorious outlaw Ia Cocha is a seventeen-year-old girl.
A criminal mastermind and unrivaled pilot, Ia has spent her life terrorizing the Olympus Commonwealth, the imperialist nation that destroyed her home. When the Commonwealth captures her and her true identity is exposed, they see Ia’s age and talent as an opportunity: by forcing her to serve them, they will prove that no one is beyond their control.
Soon, Ia is trapped at the Commonwealth’s military academy, desperately plotting her escape. But new acquaintances—including Brinn, a seemingly average student with a closely-held secret, and their charming Flight Master, Knives—cause Ia to question her own alliances. Can she find a way to escape the Commonwealth’s clutches before these bonds deepen?
1. How did you come up with the idea for Ignite the Stars?
Someone asked me one day if I could make any movie with an unlimited budget, then what type of movie would it be. I honestly didn’t have a good answer for them. That person jokingly said, “I mean it’s not going to be Game of Thrones in space, right?” Sure, he said it as a joke, but when I drove home that night, the idea really stuck with me. I came up with Ia Cōcha’s name and drafted the whole first act of Ignite the Stars that night. So, thanks random dude, for making that joke. Plus, I think he was trying to throw shade at Game of Thrones, and in my head, I was like, “No, sir. Not having it.”
2. If you could be any character for a day who would you be? Why?
Any character ever? I’d want to be Magneto from the Marvel Universe (not including the MCU in this. So, sorry Fassbender, you don’t count here). I would choose Magneto because I really want to be a villain with a very strong moral code. Also I want to live on Asteroid M for a day–Magneto’s safe haven that, of course, he built on an asteroid (but this is Pre-Utopia, for all you comic fans out there). After writing out this answer, I am just now realizing that Magneto is basically the male version of Ia!
3. Which character was the most challenging to write?
The hardest POV for me to write was the one that’s most similar to me. Brinn is a patriotic cadet that Ia meets early in the book. Throughout the book, Brinn struggles with her cultural identity and how people perceive her. She’s constantly asking herself how do I fit in when I clearly don’t belong here? I grew up in the Midwest, and I was one of the few Asian American kids in my predominantly white high school, so that was a question I was always grappling with when I was a teenager. From a writing standpoint, her chapters were a lot harder for me because I was bringing in a lot of my own issues through her POV. Because of all that, she was the most difficult to write but also the most rewarding for me.
4. What does your writing space look like?
I usually write in cafes all around LA’s Koreatown. After my day job, I usually go to the cafe and write there until close. There’s one cafe that I go to so often that the owners and the baristas know my name. Here’s pic of my little nook that I carved out for myself there. That day, I ordered peppermint tea and banana bread.
5. What would you say is your favorite thing about writing?
There’s that moment when you write when you dive into your story, and you don’t want to resurface. The story excites you so much that you have to keep going. It happens at some point with every book you write. Those are the moments that I really love. I write at cafes a lot, so when the barista has to interrupt me to point out that the cafe has been already been closed for fifteen minutes, then I consider that a great writing day.
6. Throughout the writing and publishing process what would you say is the most challenging?
Waiting! Every stage of the process requires a lot of waiting. My advice is to take that time to catch up on Netflix shows, go on hikes and catch some much-needed sunshine, and work on other creative projects to recharge your spirits.
7. If you couldn’t be a writer, what other career could you see yourself doing?
Definitely something creative. Right now, I’m also a video editor, and I used to be a cinematographer. Both of those jobs are creatively enriching, and I think it’s great to understand different creative languages because it will help you in your storytelling. But I guess the Maura of an alternate universe somewhere would be preparing for a mission to Mars. If I could be an astronaut/space pioneer, I would snatch that chance in a heartbeat.
8. How does it feel to have your book in reviewers hands?
I love hearing about the readers’ favorite characters. There’s three POVS in Ignite the Stars, and each of them are very different. All three aren’t perfect, in fact, they make a lot of mistakes, but I think there’s something in their stories that will resonate with readers.
9. I hear you are working on book 2! Would you say its easier than Ignite the stars or is it presenting a new set of challenges?
Book 2 has been a lot of fun because the story opens up the universe a lot more. We get to see more of Dead Space, more behind the scenes of the Olympus Commonwealth, and introduce new characters that we’ve only heard about in Book 1. The biggest challenge is tying up all the loose ends. This is a duology, so I want there to be satisfying closure for all three of our favorite POV characters. And of course, I want to make you all cry at the end. 😉
10. Is there anything you can tell us about book 2?
Book 2 takes place a month after book 1 ends. After everything that has happened at Aphelion Academy, Ia, Brinn, and Knives have to pick up the pieces. I can’t say too much because it could give away the plot of the first book, but you can expect more space battles and more tech in the final book of the series.
11. What is one thing you hope readers gain from reading Ignite the Stars?
I hope readers come out of this book feeling empowered. Ia is someone I really look up to all because of her strong will. She isn’t the cleverest character, but she does what she believes is right. She doesn’t let anyone else dictate that for her. In that regard, she has become a huge role model for me, to give me the strength to stand up for what I believe in. I hope she inspires other people to do the same.
12. Is there anything you want readers to know going into reading this book?
You already know the origin story of Ignite the Stars, but I feel like I have to explain my influences. I grew up reading X-Men and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There weren’t a lot of asian heroes in those fictional worlds. As an Asian-American, I wanted to see myself as the main character of these stories, but I always had to use my imagination. It was never on the page or onscreen. That’s why I’m so proud that Ia is out there for young readers to find. Heroes come from all cultures, from all walks of life. I think it’s really important to tell their stories as well.
That’s it everyone! I hope you all enjoyed this as much as I did! A special thank you to Maura Milan for agreeing to do this it has been one of my favorite blog posts! Don’t forget to check out Ignite the Stars on September 4th!
My review for Ignite the Stars: