With Capture The Sun (paperback, Kindle, audiobook), writer Jessie Mihalik is concluding the romantic sci-fi space opera trilogy Starlight’s Shadow that she launched in 2022 with Hunt The Stars and continued that same year with Eclipse The Moon. In the following email interview, Mihalik discusses what inspired and influenced this final chapter.
We previously discussed the premise of the Starlight’s Shadow trilogy in the interviews we did about the first two books, Hunt The Stars and Eclipse The Moon, so let’s cut to the chase: What is Capture The Sun about, and how does it connect, both narratively and chronologically, to Moon?
Capture The Sun is the third and final book in the Starlight’s Shadow series. It follows recovery specialist (read: thief) Lexi Bowen as she returns to Valovia for a lucrative job offer, only to find that her contact has betrayed her, and she’ll need to depend on teleporter — and job stealing trickster — Nilo Shoren to make it back home. But things don’t go exactly according to plan and Lexi and Nilo are dragged into a deeper plot that threatens their crew.
The beginning of this book overlaps with the end of Eclipse The Moon, so the action picks up right where Eclipse ended.
When in relation to writing Hunt The Stars and Eclipse The Moon did you come up with the idea for Capture The Sun, and what inspired this third book’s story?
When I sold the trilogy, I only had the main characters and some a very basic idea of what might happen: two tricksters falling in love. It wasn’t until I was most of the way into writing Eclipse that the plot began to become clearer, and it wasn’t until I was writing Capture The Sun that all of the pieces fell into place.
As for inspiration, I really wanted a story filled with hope and joy, even in the face of overwhelming odds, so I wrote it.
Hunt The Stars and Eclipse The Moon were both romantic sci-fi space opera stories. I assume that Capture The Sun is too, but are there any other genres at work in this story?
Capture The Sun is also a space opera romance, but it also has a bit of mystery in it as Lexi and Nilo try to figure out what happened to the Starlight’s Shadow crew.
Are there any writers, or stories, that had a big influence on Capture The Sun but not on any of your other books, and especially not Hunt The Stars and Eclipse The Moon?
No, I wouldn’t say so. All of the books in the Starlight’s Shadow series have been influenced by previous works, including books by Nalini Singh and Ilona Andrews, because they have characters with mental abilities like teleportation and telekinesis. But writing a character who can teleport was a lot of fun.
What about non-literary influences; was Capture The Sun influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games?
The idea for the entire series started when I was watching the first episode of The Mandalorian, so Star Wars obviously remains a huge influence.
Capture The Sun is not the first time you’ve ended a trilogy. You previously concluded the Consortium Rebellion trilogy with Chaos Reigning, while The Queen’s Triumph was the final book of the Rogue Queen trilogy. Did writing Chaos or Triumph teach you anything about ending a multi-volume story that made writing Capture The Sun easier or better?
Because I’ve written two trilogy-ending books before, I knew I could do it, but I don’t think it ever gets any easier. The third book in a trilogy, especially one where every book features a different main couple, is tricky, because not only does it have to have a satisfying plot for the main couple, but it also has to neatly tie up the threads of the trilogy arc and deliver a solid series ending. It’s a balancing act, but I hope I’ve gotten it right.
Now, in the time since Eclipse The Moon came out, you released Honor And Shadows, a prequel short story as its own book. What is Honor about, and when does it take place in relation to the first novel, Hunt The Stars?
Honor And Shadows started as a special bonus story for people who had preordered Hunt The Stars. It takes place just before Hunt The Stars as Tavi, Kee, and Eli are on a bounty hunting mission that, predictably, doesn’t quite go the way they expect it to, and the story explains some of the reason Tavi is so desperate for a well-paying job at the start of Hunt The Stars.
Some people, myself included, have been waiting for Capture The Sun to come out so they can read the entire Starlight’s Shadow saga in a row. Do you think people should do this? And if so, should we start with Honor And Shadows?
Chronologically, Honor And Shadows comes first, but realistically, it can be read at any point during the series if you want a deeper look at Tavi and crew before the Valoffs show up.
And while you can certainly binge all of the books straight through, you’ll see more of my writing quirks that way. All authors tend to have turns of phrase that sneak into every book, and they’re more obvious when reading books back-to-back.
So, is there anything else you think someone might need to know about Capture The Sun and the Starlight’s Shadow trilogy?
If you think fascists deserve to be punched in the face, then this is the book for you.
Finally, if someone enjoys the Starlight’s Shadow trilogy, they’ll probably want to read something short and sweet. So, what sci-fi novella would you suggest they check out?
If you like my books, but you’re looking for something novella length, you’ll love Ilona Andrews’s Fated Blades. And for a whole series of fantastic novellas, there’s Martha Wells’ Murderbot series, which starts with All Systems Red.