Sunny Moraine On Writing Pain, Characters and ‘Sword and Star’ (guest blog and giveaway)


Sword and Star

Sword and Star (Root Code #3) by Sunny Moraine
iptide Publishing
Cover art by Kanaxa

Read an Excerpt/Buy It Here

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Sunny Moraine here today to talk about writing, characterization and her latest novel in her Root Code series, Sword and Star.  Welcome, Sunny!.


Welcome to the SWORD AND STAR blog tour! 


SWORD AND STAR is the conclusion of a trilogy I started (with my co-author for LINE AND ORBIT Lisa Soem) over a decade ago. It’s been a long, strange journey and now it’s over. It’s not the first book trilogy I’ve finished, but it’s certainly the closest to my heart.


It’s been amazing getting to know this world and these characters over the course of three books, and it’s been even more amazing getting to share it all with readers. Adam Yuga and Lochlan d’Bideshi’s story is done, Eva Reyes and Kyle Waverly have found their own conclusion, Kae and Leila’s part in this tale is over (though you’ll see those two again in the forthcoming LINEAGE), and I’ve bid a fond farewell to the Bideshi seer Nkiruka. Goodbyes are never easy, but when you arrive at a good one, it’s immensely satisfying.


I’m so grateful to everyone who’s traveled with me, and just as grateful to the people coming to the story now. Whatever category you fall into, I hope you’ll find this final volume a fitting end.


Thank you for being here!



Character Pain


One of the things that ends up being most necessary in a story, I think, is the willingness to make your characters suffer.


Which can be hard, because – ideally – you love these people. They’ve come to mean an enormous amount to you. You also identify with them; writing them is going to mean getting into their heads, their thoughts, feeling what they feel. If you’re going to put them through pain, writing it means experiencing that pain, at least to some degree. At least if you’re going to write it well.


So it’s natural to be inclined to not do so. But that’s a mistake.


It’s a mistake in part in terms of the amount of story. An easily resolved problem doesn’t give you much scope for plot. But even more it’s a mistake because it means there’s nothing at stake, and in order for a story to be engaging, the stakes have to be high. Usually the higher the better. Which means danger, severe consequences if things go wrong – and things pretty much have to go wrong, or the danger won’t seem real.


Though the entire Root Code trilogy, I’ve been trying to raise the stakes. LINE AND ORBIT ends with a climactic battle; SWORD AND STAR begins in the midst of a buildup to war, and the story as a whole is the story of that war. You don’t get stakes much higher than that – the war itself has the potential to be a war wherein the human race destroys itself. But that’s only a backdrop for the fear and suffering I put my characters through. I tried to put them through as much as I reasonably could, pushing them to their limit – which is important, because when you push a character as far as you can, you get to know them in a way nothing else allows for.


Throughout the course of the book, my characters have to decide what they’re willing to fight for, what they’re willing to die for – and even more, whether they’re willing to sacrifice their chance to be with the people they love. Because wondering if you’ll have to choose between saving what you have with those people and saving the lives of millions… I can think of worse things than that, but it’s pretty bad.


Especially when the story is ultimately about love, about what love costs, and in the end about how love can heal.


So I put my characters through hell. It wasn’t necessarily fun, but it was necessary, and at the end of the book I believed I had given them something meaningful to fight through, to fight for, and that whatever victory they managed to attain was truly worth something as a result. And that the love they all had for each other was worth something as well, because these people are all family more than anything else. I believed the destination justified the journey, but also the other way around.


I hope, if you take that journey with them, that you’ll feel the same.



Sword and Star

About Sword and Star


Three months after a brutal battle at Peris, Adam Yuga, Lochlan D’Bideshi, and their rebel fleet are embroiled in a new conflict. But things aren’t going well. Even with Lock’s homeship, Ashwina, at the head of the fleet, the Protectorate forces are adapting to their tactics. Before long, two devastating blows send the ragtag rebels on the run. But the greatest threat may come from within.


Since the battle at Peris, Protectorate loyalist Isaac Sinder’s determination to eliminate the rebel fleet has only intensified—along with his ambition. The Protectorate is decaying, and it’s clear to Isaac that only he can save it, by any means necessary.


As the situation worsens for the rebels, the strain begins to tell on everyone. But more than exhaustion grows within Adam. Something alien has started to change him. Lochlan fights to hold on, but even he may not be able to follow Adam down the dark road ahead.


As Isaac’s obsession turns to insanity, it becomes evident that more sinister plans than his are at work. Bound together by threads of fate and chance, Adam and Lochlan turn their eyes toward a future that may tear them apart—if they’re lucky enough to survive it at all.



About Sunny Moraine


Sunny Moraine’s short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Nightmare, Lightspeed, Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, and multiple Year’s Best collections, among other places. They are also responsible for the novels Line and Orbit (cowritten with Lisa Soem), Labyrinthian, and the Casting the Bones trilogy, as well as A Brief History of the Future: collected essays. In addition to authoring, Sunny is a doctoral candidate in sociology and a sometimes college instructor; that last may or may not have been a good move on the part of their department. They unfortunately live just outside Washington DC in a creepy house with two cats and a very long-suffering husband.

Connect with Sunny: 






To celebrate the release of Sword and Star, Sunny is giving away a signed copy of the book and a handmade necklace. Leave a comment to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 28, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!


This title is #3 of the Root Code series.

This title is part of the Songs of Slipstream universe.

6 thoughts on “Sunny Moraine On Writing Pain, Characters and ‘Sword and Star’ (guest blog and giveaway)

  1. Congratulations, Sunny! I’m so happy for you! You are truly an amazing writer and friend.


  2. This is so true. I know that most of my favorite books put their characters through quite a lot of angst before the end. They have to work for their HEA. I think this is necessary for the plot and to have a truly engaging story. Look at George RR Martin. Yes, he offs way too many characters, but people are dragged into the engaging plot. You wouldn’t really care as much about his characters if they just had everything handed to them on a silver platter. The fact that they live in such a dangerous world makes every one of their actions significant, intriguing, engaging. So then even the smallest bit of dialogue between two characters suddenly becomes so much more interesting and attention-grabbing, because it could come into play down the line. Being able to put your characters through the right amount of angst and pain to fill out the story and give the readers a chance to see the characters mature and grow is a sign of a great author for me.



  3. I love the above comments. I have never read one of your books, I think, but I shall change that.
    debby236 at gmail dot com


  4. Congratulations on the new book! I loved Falling and Rising.
    thalia_moirai [at] livejournal [dot] com


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