War…war never changes. Which may be why some people are just happier when there’s a war. Such is the problem facing the crew of the Starlight’s Shadow in Jessie Mihalik’s sci-fi space opera trilogy of the same name. In the following email interview, Mihalik discusses the second book in this saga, Eclipse The Moon (paperback, Kindle, audiobook).
The Starlight’s Shadow trilogy is set in the distant future when humans have managed to travel beyond our little solar system, only to find we’re not alone in our galaxy. After years of war with the human-like Valoffs, a fragile peace is finally brokered.
The trilogy follows the adventures of the crew of Starlight’s Shadow, a human group of former soldiers turned bounty hunters. They end up taking a job from one of their previous Valovian enemies and his crew, and in the process, discover a plot to throw the galaxy back into war.
And then for people who did read Hunt The Stars, and thus can ignore me writing SPOILER ALERT in all-caps, what is Eclipse The Moon about, and when does it take place in relation to Stars?
Eclipse The Moon closely follows Hunt The Stars, taking place a few weeks after the end of the first book as the crew continues to track the traitors that are trying to restart the war. Kee is a sunshiny, highly skilled human hacker, and Varro is a grumpy Valovian telepath who just wants to keep her safe.
How much of Eclipse The Moon‘s story did you figure out before you started writing it?
Basically none. I don’t plot ahead, so I learn about each book as I write it. My subconscious does a pretty good job of keeping me on track, and sometimes a detail I randomly throw in becomes important in a future book, even though I didn’t expect it to. I also keep copious notes to ensure plot threads weave together without getting lost.
In the aforementioned interview we did about Hunt The Stars you said it was a sci-fi space opera romance. I assume that Eclipse The Moon is as well, yes?
Eclipse The Moon is also a space opera romance.
You also conceded in that interview that, “I know ‘romance’ can send some people running.” As someone who is dead inside, and might consider…well, not running, but maybe walking briskly, how mushy does Eclipse The Moon get, and why was that the right amount of mushiness for this story?
I don’t think mushy is the right word since it kind of has a negative connotation. At its heart, Eclipse The Moon is an action / adventure story that also features two people finding each other and falling in love. There are emotional moments and spicy moments and tense moments, and they all work together to tell the story I wanted to tell.
Eclipse The Moon is obviously not your first novel. Are there any writers, or maybe specific stories, that had a particularly big influence on Eclipse The Moon but not on anything else you’ve written, especially Hunt The Stars?
I’m influenced by every book I read, but there’s nothing that was especially pertinent to Eclipse The Moon that didn’t also influence Hunt The Stars. But I want to give a big shout out to romance — of all genres — for keeping me going for the last few years. The world is chaotic, and the romance guarantee that everything is going to work out okay in the end is a promise that I love.
Would that include Nalini Singh? Because in the press materials for Eclipse The Moon, there’s a quote from Kit Rocha [The Beyond series] that starts, “Fans of Nalini Singh will swoon for this stoic psychic space warrior hero…” Did Singh’s work influence Eclipse?
Of course. I absolutely adore Nalini’s Psy-Changeling series, which also features characters with mental abilities like telepathy and telekinesis, and it definitely got me thinking about how such abilities would work, and how they would change the world-building. While I think telepathy could be a double-edged sword, I would love to be able to snag a book from across the room with telekinesis.
And how about such non-literary influences as movies, TV shows, or games? Did any of those things have a particularly big influence on Eclipse The Moon?
The Star Wars universe continues to be a big influence because it’s probably one of the most well-known space operas available. The idea for the Starlight’s Shadow crew started with The Mandalorian, but it diverged pretty quickly because I wanted my crew to have a support system rather than being a lone wanderer.
Now, as we’ve been discussing, Hunt The Stars and Eclipse The Moon are the first two books of the Starlight’s Shadow trilogy. Do you know yet what the third book will be called and when it will be out?
The third book is Capture The Sun, and it will be out in Spring 2023.
So, is there anything else that people interested in Eclipse The Moon should know about it?
Because Eclipse The Moon follows a different couple than Hunt The Stars, it can be read on its own, but you’ll get a better picture of the world-building and overall universe if you read the books in order.
Also, if you ever wished that we got to see more of Han and Leia’s story, then you might enjoy my books.
Finally, if someone enjoys Eclipse The Moon — and, obviously, Hunt The Stars — what romantic sci-fi space opera novel of someone else’s would you suggest they read next?
If you like my books, you should check out Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell. This book has some of my favorite romance tropes — forced engagement, grumpy / sunshine, opposites attract — plus fantastic world-building and a twisty plot that will keep you guessing.