Charlie N. Holmberg is joining us today to talk about her novel, Star Mother. Here’s the publisher’s description:
A woman’s heart proves as infinite as the night sky in a breathtaking fantasy by Wall Street Journal bestselling author Charlie N. Holmberg.
When a star dies, a new one must be born.
The Sun God chooses the village of Endwever to provide a mortal womb. The birthing of a star is always fatal for the mother, and Ceris Wenden, who considers herself an outsider, sacrifices herself to secure her family’s honor and take control of her legacy. But after her star child is born, Ceris does what no other star mother has: she survives. When Ceris returns to Endwever, however, it’s not nine months later—it’s seven hundred years later. Inexplicably displaced in time, Ceris is determined to seek out her descendants.
Being a woman traveling alone brings its own challenges, until Ceris encounters a mysterious—and desperate—godling. Ristriel is incorporeal, a fugitive, a trickster, and the only being who can guide Ceris safely to her destination. Now, as Ceris traverses realms both mortal and beyond, her journey truly begins.
Together, pursued across the Earth and trespassing the heavens, Ceris and Ristriel are on a path to illuminate the mysteries that bind them and discover the secrets of the celestial world.
What’s Charlie’s favorite bit?
CHARLIE N. HOLMBERG
Truthfully, one of my favorite bits of Star Mother is the first two lines—they simply popped into my head one day, and the rest of the story came from that.
I had thought making love to the Sun was the most unbearable pain I would ever experience. Giving birth to His child was far worse.
But I don’t want to spend my time talking about the summation of an entire novel, so instead, I want to talk about scars.
Everyone has scars. Physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. Large and small, shallow and deep. Scars are just one of those universal things. They’re also something that tie together the books of the Star Mother series.
My protagonist, Ceris, makes her mark on the world by volunteering to become a star mother, as stars—the batteries of the universe—can only be created by the sun god and a mortal woman. Unfortunately, the birthing is always fatal for the mother . . . until one day, it isn’t, and Ceris miraculously lives.
While surviving gives her a dose of starlight and misplaces her seven-hundred years in time, it gives her something else. Something she can’t see. But for some reason, every celestial being she encounters looks upon her with pity. It isn’t until Ceris has returned home and found a godling guide that she’s able to uncover answers, and this is one of my favorite scenes in the novel.
It starts with a question. Anything of godly make instantly knows she’s a star mother, though there are no obvious indicators of it. She inquires how it’s done to her guide, Ristriel.
“…because of your scars.”
I started. “S-Scars?”
He nodded. Then saw my face, and shrunk. “I’ve upset you.”
“I . . .” I didn’t know how to answer. I pulled up my sleeves, examining my arms in the firelight. “I . . . I don’t have any scars.” Stretch marks, certainly, but those were tucked away beneath my clothes.
“They’re not on your body but your spirit,” he explained, watching me, gauging my reaction.
I glanced over myself as though I would be able to see the marks. “Why do I have scars?”
He took a moment to answer, and I could tell he was choosing his words carefully. “If you thrust your hand into that fire, would it not hurt you?”
I glanced to the flames.
“You are a mortal woman who lay with the Sun and carried a star. Of course you have scars.” […] “Do not be ashamed, Ceris [. . .] they are marks of your journey and your sacrifice.”
Those spiritual markings are not the only scars Ceris carries. There’s a reason star mothers perish in the birthing of their stars. Ceris may have survived the experience, but she is not without the trauma of giving life to a powerful godling.
At this point in the story, Ceris has been unable to meet her daughter. The sun god is involved in an ongoing, heavenly battle with the demigoddess of the moon, and so he is unable to take Ceris through space. The moon is an antagonist across the series, but even she bears the weight of scars.
“Look at the moon.”
I did. It hovered overhead, pocked in a way that almost formed a face. I had once likened demigods to bears, but the moon was a bear who could swallow cities whole if she so desired. The stories said that many godlings found refuge in her kingdom when they were cast out from Sun’s. And so the moon was the most powerful demigod of all. At least in all the lore I knew.
“She, too, is scarred. But she is beautiful.”
In the end, I hope Ceris’s story is a relatable one, especially for women. I want it to be a message that hardships born and sacrifices made will be eternally rewarded, even if not in the way we expect. They certainly don’t come in the way Ceris expects . . . but she still gets her happily ever after, in the end.
Charlie N. Holmberg is the author of the Wall Street Journal bestselling Paper Magician series and the Amazon Charts bestselling Spellbreaker series. She is also the author of the Star Mother series and the Numina series, as well as five stand-alone novels, including Followed by Frost , a 2016 RITA Award finalist for Young Adult Romance; The Fifth Doll , winner of the 2017 Whitney Award for Speculative Fiction; and The Will and the Wilds , winner of the 2020 Whitney Award for Speculative Fiction, as well as Novel of the Year for Adult Fiction. Born in Salt Lake City, Charlie was raised a Trekkie alongside three sisters who also have boy names. She is a proud BYU alumna, plays the ukulele, and owns too many pairs of glasses. She currently lives with her family in Utah. Visit her at www.charlienholmberg.com .