Thursday, October 5, 2023

Silent Stars By Brett Armstrong + Interview + Give Away

Silent Stars JustRead Blog Tour

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Silent Stars by Brett Armstrong, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours! Be sure to read below for my interview with the author!

About the Book

Silent Stars

Title: Silent Stars
Series:
Tomorrow's Edge #3
Author:
Brett Armstrong
Publisher:
Expanse Books
Release Date:
September 26, 2023
Genre:
Christian, Dystopian, Science Fiction

AD 2040: Barely eighteen, things have become much harder for Elliott. Reeling from the losses during the confrontation that brought Project Alexandria to a halt, Elliott feverishly hunts for the original files needed to finish it off. Finding only dead ends, he instead stumbles upon something dire: messages about the Babel Initiative. Conceived as a successor that would make Project Alexandria’s manipulations seem tame, this new threat once again forces Elliott into alliances with morally grey programmers known as Siegers. Beset by continual setbacks and defeats, many Siegers abandon the cause and go underground to survive the dangers ahead. The bleak reality that Elliott and those closest to him are almost certain to die in the fight against Dr. Almundson begins to set in. But Elliott isn’t ready to give up. He knows the cost of such a silent surrender will be humanity itself.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop

More in This Series

 


Author Interview

1. How did your degree fit into the writing of this story/series?
Admittedly, a lot of Elliott’s struggles early on with feeling like he’s an artist but being
required to work as a programmer mirrored how I felt in college. But, also like Elliott, I
discovered that through my engineering degrees I’ve been more at ease and more
realistic in how I tell science fiction stories. Having an understanding of programming
and computers helps enormously when imagining where things might go. I naturally
gravitate towards a focus on world-building and a key to it is to take real world things
that are familiar and relatable, but give them a fantastical twist to both ground the
reader in the world and at the same time give them the thrill of being somewhere
exciting and new. I think having gone through the courses for programming, and then
doing that as my day job, has really helped me to find that balance or real and imagined
for the Tomorrow’s Edge series.

2. In what ways do you see fiction colliding with reality when it comes to technology?
I saw a meme of a Venn diagram of 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, and other
famous dystopian stories and at the very center was “You are here.” I think that’s a
pretty good summary of where we’re at in terms of fiction and reality hitting each other.
A good example of how things are is that when I first starting writing Day Moon I
wanted to give Director Ohlmstadt, a major villain in the series, some credentials for
how he got to his lofty position in Project Alexandria. So, I imagined that he did it by
finding a way to alter video, audio, and images dynamically. By the time Day Moon
released, I read my first articles about a new tech development called Deep Fake.
Which is essentially what the character I imagined had developed. And by the time
book two, Veiled Sun, released, Deep Fake was being taught at universities and MIT
went so far as to craft a fictional version of the Apollo 11 landing where it failed. They
created Deep Fake videos of President Nixon consoling the nation, newspaper articles
from all the major news outlets with headlines saying it was a tragic failure, and so
much more. In the span of like six years, I saw something I imagined as terrible and
dangerous for us existentially come to life. The good and bad thing about science fiction
is that it tends to look ahead and imagine what can be. It helps excite us, inspire us, and
lead to innovations. But it also so often its warnings go unheeded and instead of
preparing us they numb us. The Tomorrow’s Edge series is full technology that is good
in and of itself, but no one counts the silent costs or protects against the hidden dangers
until everyone is too deeply immersed to turn back.

3. How have you seen Elliot change over the course of the three books in the series?
In some ways, he has most definitely changed. He’s much more confident in his abilities
and doesn’t have as much angst and doubt about why he’s on the path that he’s on.
There are several hard lessons he has to learn throughout Silent Stars, but overall I
think he’s managed to become much more resilient and is a much more active
participant in what’s transpiring. At the same time, he’s also managed to hold onto his
endearing (and at times pain-filled) trait of assuming the best about people and not
losing sight of their value as people even in the face of the mistakes and wrongs they
may commit. It’s enviable for me how he’s not really na├»ve, just forgiving and
compassionate.

4. If you could create a piece of technology that would benefit humanity, what would it be?
It’s an ironic answer, but I would want to create Project Alexandria from the
Tomorrow’s Edge series, at least in the capacity that Elliott’s grandfather had intended
it, before sinister forces corrupted it. A single place where all human knowledge can be
freely accessed and people can communicate freely all across the world. Where no
borders can hold out the Gospel, where no one is barred from learning critical
information or has difficulty finding it. It just sounds incredible. Of course, that’s what
Elliott’s grandfather thought. The downfall of it all is that people can corrupt just about
anything in this world and technology is ever a double-edged sword, capable of being
used for good or evil purposes.

5. Do you find it easier to write Christian SciFi or Christian Fantasy? Or do you find similar
elements cross over?
I’ve been very blessed that writing both Tomorrow’s Edge and Quest of Fire series have
been so enjoyable for me and it’s been so easy to slip into either. I think from a world
building perspective, the attributes of the building blocks may be different, but the
purposes and techniques are identical. Likewise, characters may face a certain version
of an obstacle to overcome, but the purposes behind both facing the obstacle/hardship
and the corresponding development for the characters underneath it all look very
similar. It’s all about giving readers something familiar to anchor them and something
incredible to look at simultaneously. To me writing any fiction is always very purposed.
Fiction can be entertaining and escapist, but by I always want to write a story such that
by the end the reader is better equipped to face the obstacles and hardships of the real
world. And both sci fi and fantasy are incredibly effective genres for doing that.

6. When you start a series, do you know how many books it will be broken into or do you figure
it out as you go along? And how do you decide where to stop one story and start the next?
This series only covers a year so a lot must happen in all three books!
I haven’t been very consistent about how I decide that. With the Quest of Fire series, I
knew it was going to be enormous and sprawling and that I wanted to tell it over several
bigger stories with some smaller more zoomed in, personal, stories interspersed.
Deciding then on the seven book spread for it just felt natural and by the time I realized
it was a series I was already pretty dialed into roughly where each major entry in the
series would start and stop.

For Tomorrow’s Edge, it was completely the opposite. I started off thinking Tomorrow’s
Edge would be a standalone and it was only after I’d gotten through all of what
constitutes Day Moon and multiple chapters into what is now Veiled Sun that I stepped
back and was like, “Uh oh. No one is going to publish something that big.” Particularly
not for an unknown like me, because at that point my first novel, Destitutio Quod
Remissio, hadn’t yet been published. After I started thinking about Tomorrow’s Edge in
terms of a duology, I was like, “Okay, this makes sense.” And then I tried to think
through the rest of where Veiled Sun’s story was going to go and again tripped over the
too-much-story-for-an-acceptable-page-count barrier. Once I had settled on a trilogy, I
knew where the major rises and falls in action were going to happen, so the breaks kind
of naturally inserted themselves.

In terms of something practical, I would say the key is to make sure you have questions
that need answered at the end of each book leading into the finale. With Veiled Sun, I
ended with both some big questions about the story like, “How will they stop Project
Alexandria for good?” At the same time there were also those smaller questions like,
“Where will the main characters go now?” Along with one “nagging” question, “Who is
mole in the group or is Agent Amar bluffing?” That way each book has its own arc, but
has connective threads that can be seen bridging the divide in the books.

7. Did you design the covers or do you have someone who does it for you?
I’ve been very blessed to have publishers who use talented cover artists. With each
release it has felt like I’m in good hands. Especially with Expanse Books, it’s a really
collaborative process. Expanse sincerely tries to take what you envision (however much or
little) and make it a reality. The best part has been that when I do see the cover it’s never
exactly what I imagined, but in a good way, because the changes surprise and delight and
challenge me. When you get the initial draft files it’s like opening a present knowing just
enough of what will be inside to make the anticipation double the excitement.

About the Author

Brett Armstrong

Brett Armstrong has been exploring other worlds as a writer since age nine. Years later, he still writes, but now invites others along on his excursions. He’s shown readers haunting, deep historical fiction (Destitutio Quod Remissio), scary-real dystopian sci-fi (Tomorrow's Edge), and dark, sweeping epic fantasy (Quest of Fire). Every story is a journey of discovery and an attempt to be a brush in the Master Artist’s hand. Through dark, despair, light, joy, and everything in between, the end is always meant to leave his fellow literary explorers with wonder and hope. Always busy with a new story, he also enjoys drawing, gardening, and spending time with his wife and son.

Connect with Brett by visiting brettarmstrong.net to follow him on social media and sign up for email updates.


Tour Giveaway

(2) winners will win a $25 Amazon gift card, print copy of Silent Stars, and a poster of a scene from the Tomorrow's Edge series!

Silent Stars JustRead Tours giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight October 4, 2023 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on October 11, 2023. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Open to winners in the US, Canada, Australia, and UK only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to JustRead Publicity Tours Giveaway Policies.

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