Like a lot of people who write space opera-style science fiction, writer Michael Moreci cites the Star Wars saga as a big influence. But in talking to him about his new novel Black Star Renegades (paperback, hardcover, Kindle), he also — in what I’m assuming is a sign of things to come — mentioned the Guardians Of The Galaxy films as having an impact on his space adventure as well.
Photo Credit: Chad Leverenz
To start, what is Black Star Renegades about?
Black Star Renegades is a space adventure novel in the vein of Star Wars or Guardians Of The Galaxy. It follows Cade Sura, a young warrior who comes into possession of the Rokrua, the galaxy’s most powerful weapon. And he’s totally unprepared to wield it. But if he doesn’t find the strength to do so, the evil Praxis kingdom will take over the galaxy. It’s fun, it’s fast, it’s the perfect escape from our chaotic world.
Black Star Renegades has been described as a space opera. Do you agree with this, or do you think there is a subgenre of sci-fi, or combination of them, that fits the book better?
I sort of agree. I feel like Black Star Renegades is more like Star Wars in the sense that it’s more fantasy than it is sci-fi. My book isn’t concerned so much with the things you’d find in such more archetypal space operas as [John Scalzi’s] Old Man’s War or [James S.A. Corey’s] The Expanse. There’s a certain amount of science in those, of real-world parallels. Black Star Renegades is divorced from that, which is freeing. The functionality of the tech doesn’t matter; the logistics of space travel doesn’t matter. What’s important is the story and the characters, and that’s the way I like it.
So where did you get the original idea for it, and how different is the finished novel from that initial concept?
I feel like I’ve had this idea forever. I’ve always wanted to write a space adventure/space opera, one that harkens back to the pulps the way, again, Star Wars did. What I had in mind always centered on Cade and the Rokura, this insecure, well-meaning young man who never had much of a plan for his life and liked it that way…and it all gets turned upside down when, suddenly, his thrust into a role that’s more vital than he can imagine. That was always the initial concept, and that’s stayed true. Other elements changed along the way, particularly when I started into the second or third draft of the book, but its beating heart always remained true.
Prior to writing Black Star Renegades you wrote comic books, including your own series Roche Limit. Do you think there’s anything particularly comic book-y about Black Star Renegades?
I suppose you can say that, sure. Black Star Renegades, with the right amount of tweaking, could be a comic. For sure. And lots of comics could be novels; Roche Limit could easily be a novel. To me, good storytelling is good storytelling. That’s really what I’m concerned with, no matter what medium I’m working in.
So why did you decide to write Black Star Renegades as a prose novel instead of a comic?
Writing a novel has always, always been a dream of mine. I actually have a pretty thorough history in prose; my undergrad degree is in creative writing, and I graduated from Northwestern University’s creative writing program. I’ve written a novel before — unpublished, mercifully — and I’ve written a ton of short stories. So, this wasn’t a new thing. I mean, having a book published, that was new. But books are my love, always have been and always will be. I’m just thrilled, beyond thrilled, that I finally got a chance to do this; I’d been pitching novels for years before Black Star Renegades hit, and it’s nice to see that work come around.
What writers or specific books do you feel had a big influence on Black Star Renegades, but are not an influence on your style as a whole?
Brandon Sanderson [Oathbringer: Book Three Of The Stormlight Archive] is a huge influence, particularly in the way he paces his stories and his tone. Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, the Star Wars tie-in novels, [T.H. White’s] The Once And Future King, [Frank Herbert’s] Dune, [Lloyd Alexander’s] Black Cauldron — those all come to mind.
How about non-literary influences, such as movies, TV shows, and video games. Aside from Star Wars and Guardians Of The Galaxy, of course.
A lot of the space operas that I’ve read lately have not been stand-alone novels, but are instead part of a larger series. Is that also the case with Black Star Renegades, or is it a one-off book?
Mine, too, is part of a series. I think it’s just a natural inclination. These stories, by nature, are big; the worlds are big, the characters are big. And, for me, Black Star Renegades harkens back to the age of serialized, episodic storytelling. It’s a piece of a larger whole, and that gives the flexibility to tell more story and different kinds of stories.
So what can you tell us about this series? Is it an ongoing series, or a limited number of books…?
Right now, I’m contracted for two books. I actually just turned in the second last week. Hopefully — I’m hoping with every fiber of my body — Black Star Renegades will be successful enough to warrant St. Martin’s extending my contract and allowing me to write at least two more.
Along with Black Star Renegades, you also have a thriller coming out this June called The Throwaway. What can you tell us about that book?
That’s a book I was hired to write, and it’s a ton of fun. It’s a spy thriller about an American man who is framed as a Russian spy; he’s sent back to Russia, separating him from his wife and the only life he’s ever known, and he has to do whatever he can to fight his way back and prove his innocence.
Is it also the first in a series?
Nope, just a standalone.
Do you think people who enjoy Black Star Renegades will also like The Throwaway, and vice versa?
You know, while they’re very different books, I think people would like both. The tone is pretty similar; I can only write like myself, which means both stories are pretty light and fun. The content is way different, no doubt about it, but it’s still me putting the words on the page.
As I understand it, a movie version of The Throwaway is already in the works. How about Black Star Renegades; has there been any interest in adapting that into a movie, TV show, or video game?
No word yet, but fingers crossed.
I think it would have to be a movie; the budget would have to be pretty high. And you can’t beat that big screen experience when you’re talking about films set in space.
If Black Star Renegades was being adapted into a movie, who would you like to see them cast in the main roles?
Hmmm…I’d say Tessa Thompson [Thor: Ragnarok] is Kira, Donald Glover [The Martian] is Mig, Dan Stevens [Legion] is Cade, Seth Rogen [Paul] would voice 4-Qel, and Ga Halle would be played by Emily Blunt [Edge Of Tomorrow].
Finally, if someone enjoys Black Star Renegades, what would you suggest they read while waiting for The Throwaway to come out?
Well, I have a brand new sci-fi comic series launching in April called Wasted Space — I’m shameless, I know — but also Brandon Sanderson. Anything by him, you can’t lose.