Amie Kaufman is the co-author of These Broken Stars, the first in a young adult science fiction trilogy published in thirteen countries, including by Disney-Hyperion in the US and Allen & Unwin in Australia. Film and television rights are in development with Off The Grid Entertainment. The sequel,This Shattered World, will be out in November 2014.
These Broken Stars won the 2013 Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Novel, received a starred review from Booklist, was named Best Overall YA Book of 2013 by the Huffington Post, and was a Romantic Times Top Pick, being longlisted for the Gold Inky Award.
She’s also the co-author of Illuminae, a new transmedia trilogy coming from Random House/Allen & Unwin in 2015. Raised in Australia and Ireland, Amie has degrees in history, literature, law and conflict resolution. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and their rescue dog, and an extremely large personal library.
Your debut novel, These Broken Stars, has been a huge success, with a number of awards, critical acclaim, and international exposure. What led up to These Broken Stars—was it your first major piece of writing, or had you been working on other projects for a while?
I’d been writing for fun for a number of years, but never with an eye to publication. These Broken Stars started that way too—my co-author Meagan Spooner and I were flatmates, and we were writing the story together for fun, to indulge our love of space opera and shipwreck stories. It was quite some time into the process that we realised we were writing something that might work for publication.
These Broken Stars was the first book I ever sent to an agent or had submitted for publication, but in a way I’d done my apprenticeship in the years before that, even though I wasn’t sending my work out anywhere.
You obviously enjoy collaborating with other authors, with These Broken Stars being written alongside Meagan Spooner, and an upcoming series with Jay Kristoff. What is it about the act of collaboration that you enjoy, and are there any particular challenges you’ve faced?
I love working with a writing partner. You’ve always got someone in the trenches with you to bounce ideas around, challenge you and support you. The best stuff comes when you work together, and take each other places you’d never have found on your own.
I picked both my co-authors very carefully, so my journey’s been wonderful. My best advice for working with a co-author is to check you both have matching expectations in terms of who’ll do what work, what your goals are, how you’d deal with the project if one of you didn’t want to continue, and to make sure you have rock solid communication. Solve problems ahead of time, and you won’t have to deal with them halfway through.
Do you have any plans for more stories set in the world of These Broken Stars to go alongside the novels?
Yes! In October we’ll be releasing a free e-short titled This Night So Dark. It’ll be available on all e-reader platforms, and it’ll have the first two chapters of This Shattered World (Starbound #2) in the back, so readers can get a sneak peek.
It’s set before These Broken Stars, and tells the story of how Tarver Merendsen came to be on the Icarus, why he has those medals, and why he doesn’t want to talk about it. We had a blast writing it—I haven’t done much with short stories before, but I definitely want to dip my toe in this pool again!
What Australian works have you loved recently?
Although it’s not spec fic, I loved Every Breath by Ellie Marney—it kept me up late. I also lovedJump by Sean Williams and I got an early read of Endsinger by Jay Kristoff, which finishes off the Lotus War trilogy perfectly.
Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?
I think authors have the opportunity to be far more in touch with their readers these days—for some it’s a mixed blessing, but I love it. It impacts my work in that I get to share the journey with readers. Once a month, Meg and I send out a newsletter that gives readers behind the scenes glimpses at what’s coming up, talks about our writing process, and really invites them into a part of the process they wouldn’t usually see. (If you want to sign up for that, by the way, you can do so at www.thesebrokenstars.com.au .) We also have the chance to offer stories like This Night So Dark that would have been harder to distribute in years gone past. We get to interact with fans via social media, and they produce all kinds of amazing stuff—illustrations, playlists of songs for each chapter of the book, photosets, the works. Their creativity is amazing, and I love the opportunity to have them share in the story.
Five years from now, I hope I’ll still be writing and publishing speculative fiction—that’s certainly the plan! I think the ways in which we produce and consume it will continue to change, with more authors experimenting with new platforms and self-publishing, pursuing hybrid careers—and I think that’s exciting—but I do also think rumours of the death of traditional publishing have been greatly exaggerated.