Unlike Scarlet Letters (my first book, which was a humorous urban fantasy with no other point than to poke fun at the pop culture phenomenon of vampires), Stargazers is far closer to the kind of writing I typically do in that it is fairly dramatic and dark, and tries to be at least somewhat thematic. Aster, the main character, experiences some some pretty black moments on her journey, but I like to think I've balanced those things with just enough lightness and action to keep the story from being dirge-like. With the help of my beta readers, I was able to take the story to the next level in terms of plot and character development, making the story richer and very much what I first envisioned it to be when I started it back in November for NaNoWriMo.
The story has magic, a little bit of romance, and also some themes that are very personal to me. The main one is family obligation vs personal freedom, or making that leap from childhood (where our thoughts and beliefs are often a carbon copy of our parents'), to adulthood, where we must start to establish ourselves as individuals and allow ourselves to bloom, regardless of whether or not our family would approve. I tried to speak about this very real struggle in a metaphorical way, framing it in a fantasy story about a family of witches.
I struggled a lot with forging my individuality as a teen, and I've carried that struggle with me into adulthood. In fact, it's only recently that I feel like I've really started to claim my life as my own, and because I wrote this book for teens, I feel like this was a way to telegraph back in time, to tell myself to be strong and confident in who I am, that even when there are times when I feel completely lost in the dark, there is still enough light in the world to help me find my own way if I trust myself.
I can only hope that same message comes through for other readers.
Other themes and metaphors were so buried in the subtext that I didn't even know they were there until I was in the middle of revisions or until someone pointed something out to me. I think those are my favorite discoveries, as it reminds me that writing is by and large a subconscious process.
Anyway, I don't know if it's perfect even now (or if it ever will be, but I have to eventually leave well enough alone and let the work stand on its merits), but I feel I've nurtured Aster and her world(s) pretty well, and I hope to be able to revisit her again someday and see how she's doing and if she has another adventure to show me. But first, I have to write that query. Then, maybe if it goes all the way, I can start planning that sequel.