Author Interview: ‘Star Eater’ by Kitty Shields

About the Book:

Enter a different kind of L.A., where mobsters are daemons, high school students are possessed, and frozen yogurt is the first step to solving every problem.Kai is possessed by his demon, Akuma, and has been for eleven years. And for eleven years he’s managed to keep that tidbit of information a secret. His parents think the strange side effects of having a pet demon are due to a physical disability, but boy and demon have reached a happy equilibrium, and leaving Kai’s parents in the dark is essential to that.

Life is, well, not grand but serviceable until a mobster recognizes Kai and Akuma for what they are, and he needs Kai’s power to break out a very dangerous criminal. As Kai gets sucked into the L.A. supernatural underground, he finds that the mob knows more about his demon than he does and what he doesn’t know is very, very dangerous.

As Kai and Akuma try and navigate through the sea of other monsters in the dark, they have to do it while pretending to be the most mysterious creature of all: a normal teenager.


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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US


Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I got into writing in my teens, first as a fanfic writer, then to help deal with depression. A lot of the fanfic my friends and I wrote were of high fantasy books and graphic novels we were reading—Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, even some Anne McCaffery and her Pern series. As we got older, my friends grew out of writing and found other outlets for creativity, but I always returned to it as a source of comfort and escape. My dad passed away suddenly when I was in college and I would not be alive today without writing. It was the only thing that kept me sane while I trudged through grief. 

Beyond that, I’m a huge geek. I like Miyazaki films and gender bender manga, iced chai, old fashioned chocolate chip cookies, and a good, dry, clever turn of phrase. A few years ago I went to a trade school and learned hand bookbinding. I make mead in my closet and try to avoid my cat’s plots against me. His name is Jinx. It’s my fault for naming him that. 

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

It’s a luxury to have a writing space and time. I have a desk set up in my bedroom, but I’m not glued to it. I’ve learned to write anywhere. During my Masters, the only time I had to write was during lunch at work. At the time, I worked at a warehouse, so my writing space was a bench between lockers staring at a conveyor as tools and machinery floated by. That’ll set off some ideas in your head, let me tell you. 

3: Where do your ideas come from?

The basis of every story is planted in what city and job I’m working. My first book, Pillar of Heaven, is based in Boston and Kate, the main protagonist, starts out as a barista. I went to college in Boston and worked for Starbucks for four years. The beginning conflict, her inability to find a job post-graduation, is all autobiographical. That story was a product of months of fruitless job searches, a situation I think a lot of postgrads can relate to. The telepathy portion of the story came into play just because coffeehouses attract the strangest people and I found myself wondering what they were thinking. Why did they take off their shoes in the middle of the cafe and eat lunch like that? Why did they run five miles every morning and come in and get a venti Americano afterwards? Why did they think green tea frappucinos tasted good? People’s behavior just baffled me. From there the tale spun itself.

The next book coming out in April 2021, Star Eater, is based on a few years I spent in L.A. where the book is based. The roots of it come from a variety of sources. Kai, the main protagonist, is loosely based on an old roommate of mine who is biracial and struggled with reconciling that part of their identity. And so that became one of the themes. The star-eating aspect came from Howl’s Moving Castle, the scene when Howl ingests a fallen star, which was such a specific image I couldn’t shake it. I thought, who would eat a star? Like seriously? And then I thought of my cousin’s toddler, always sticking things, especially shining things, in their mouth and I thought, yup, a kid would. Again, the rest of the book just grew from there.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

I’m a pantser, so I typically fly off the seat of my pants. The few times I’ve tried to really plan ahead, the characters seem to laugh at me and then switch directions mid flow. I have a general idea of where the story is going, and I edit while I daydream. I’ll go over a scene again and again in my mind, trying to fit the dialogue and see which outcome feels correct, before moving on.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

My books are mostly urban fantasy. I have a couple in process that cross other genres, like historical fantasy, etc., but I tend to stick to this category pretty tightly. When I wrote fanfic, it was all high fantasy, other worlds, other people’s worlds, and that was awesome but the more you put yourself in those stories, the more you come back home after the tale is done. Then the story follows you home. After a while, I wondered the “what if” too many times. What if stars fell and you could swallow them? What if telepaths had corporate jobs and what if seers hung out at coffee shops and told the future? What if Boston got taken over by fairies? Then I needed to know the answers.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

This one’s on my website:

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

Yes, I read a ton. It’s really important to read as much as possible. So much sinks into you while reading, I think it keeps your writing dynamic and you as a writer informed. Regardless of what you’re writing, you should be reading as much as possible and I mean everything—nonfiction, fantasy, literature, biography—it all helps polish. 

Every year I participate in Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge and that helps me break away from my normal habits. I’m a fan of titans like Neil Gaiman, David Eddings, and Jeanette Winterson, whose writing has made me physically flinch more than once. But I also love me a good steampunk adventure a la Gail Carriger or Honor Raconteur. I’ll take a smutty romance by Rebekah Weatherspoon or comic book novel by Drew Hayes anyday. I’m the kind of reader that once I find an author I like, I’ll consume their entire catalog of books. The Challenge forces me to break up my typical reads and pepper in more diverse material.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

  • How to Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
  • A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourne

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Ha! There is no answer to this question. I couldn’t fit it on a list of a hundred. There are too many books that have changed me, that have left imprints, made me better, made me worse, made me lose sleep. I have Dylan Thomas and Jeanette Winterson’s words tattooed on my body, but probably more physical copies of Neil Gaiman books on my shelf, but I have rebound Stephen King in leather because that was important. There is no answer to this question.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Finish what you start. For beginning writers, that’s the hardest part. They get frustrated, bored, feel like they need to be writing the exact, meticulously perfect word every time and when they can’t they quit. They struggle and imagine that ‘real writers’ don’t struggle, which is absolutely not true. Nanowrimo is an amazing tool. Use it. Write and read, maybe read Stephen King’s On Writing and Steering the Craft by Ursula Le Guin, and Bird by Bird by Ann Lamont if you want actual directions or exercises. But do your best to ignore doubt and finish your story. People need to hear it.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  





About the Author:

Kitty Shields lives outside Philadelphia, where she writes to overcome the fact that she was born a middle child with hobbit feet, freckles, and a tendency to daydream. In her spare time, she binds books, takes terrible photos, and tries to avoid the death traps her cat sets for her. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Arcadia University in 2015 and has been published in several journals including The After Happy Hour Review, Furious Gazelle, and Sick Lit.

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