Hi everyone! I have a cool post for you all today. Rebecca Hahn, author of The Shadow Behind the Stars, is joining me on the blog today. Let's give her a warm welcome, and wish her a happy publication day!
Alyssa: Hi, Rebecca! Thank you so much for joining me today on my blog! And congratulations on another published novel!
Rebecca: Thanks for having me, Alyssa! I’m happy to be here. :)
Alyssa: So, The Shadow behind the Stars. Describe it in, let’s say, 12 words?
Rebecca: Youngest of Greek Fates struggles to keep faith in her own magic.
Alyssa: What’s another novel (YA or otherwise) that you would recommend to readers, if they like The Shadow behind the Stars?
Rebecca: I Am Mordred by Nancy Springer deals with questions of fate from the perspective of the “bad guy”—Arthur’s son Mordred, who is destined to destroy him.
Alyssa: Describe the title of this book to us! How did it come about?
Rebecca: The title comes from the main character Chloe’s description of her and her sister’s magic, which they draw on whenever they shape the threads of human lives. She says, “It is a power deeper than gods, deeper even than us three sisters. It forms our work; it gives our makings breath. It’s a hidden pattern, a silent promise, the shadow behind the stars.”
Stars are connected to fate: “star-crossed lovers” are ill-fated ones; astrology uses stars to predict all sorts of things. Chloe’s story deals with the darker aspects of fate, with the idea that bad things happen and sometimes there is nothing anyone can do about it. Metaphorically, that unavoidable darkness is a sort of “shadow behind the stars.” I like the image because it gives me the sense that there are deep forces at work in the universe—forces that you cannot necessarily see but which nevertheless influence all of us.
Alyssa: Was there a character in this book that you particularly enjoyed writing?
Rebecca: I liked writing the eldest of the Fates, Xinot. She’s eccentric, she’s irritable, and she doesn’t care what anyone thinks. I like the freedom that gives her character.
Alyssa: On the note of characters – how did you choose the names, for the Fates? “Chloe” is similar to “Clotho”, but the others?
Rebecca: I didn’t realize that “Chloe” was similar to “Clotho” until I had a full draft! I named her “Chloe” because I wanted something genuinely Greek but also somewhat familiar to a modern audience. I think “Chloe” is a young-sounding name; I wanted her to seem young, even though she’s been alive for centuries.
Serena and Xinot (the other Fates) were also named before I looked up the actual Greek names of the Fates. I considered trying to change their names to reflect their Greek counterparts (Lachesis and Atropos), but they were set in my mind by then. “Serena” is a Greek name; obviously it echoes “serene,” which I think fits the middle Fate’s character in the book. It also has echoes of “siren,” the otherworldly creature who draws seafarers to their deaths. I like that more dangerous connection as well: Serena seems gentle, but she is also the Fate who marks the end of the thread for Xinot to cut.
“Xinot” isn’t a Greek name; I made it up. I wanted a name that was slightly strange and maybe ominous. I loved the sound of the “X” and how it looked on the page, and ending in “not” both reminded me of emptiness—and thus death—and also echoed “knot,” which could refer to the Fates’ work with thread. Plus, “X” Greek names are not unusual (Xanthe, Xerxes, e.g.), so “Xinot” seemed to fit the setting.
Alyssa: I really like that, how you came up with Xinot! I remember reading the book and wondering about it. :D Will this novel be a standalone, or will there be a sequel or companion?
Rebecca: So far it’s a standalone—I don’t have any current plans for a second!
Alyssa: And that’s it for today! Thank you so much for letting me pick your brain, Rebecca :)
Rebecca: Thanks for the questions! It’s been a blast.
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About the Book:
The Shadow behind the Stars by Rebecca Hahn
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Summary (from Goodreads):
A girl’s dark destiny could cause the unraveling of the world in this spellbinding novel from the author of A Creature of Moonlight, which Kirkus Reviews called “cumulatively stunning” in a starred review.
Heed this warning, mortal: stay far away from the three sister Fates. For if they come to love you, they might bring about the end of the world…
Chloe is the youngest. Hers are the fingers that choose the wool, that shape the thread, that begin it. The sun smiles upon her. Men love her without knowing who she is. She has lived forever and will live forever more. She and her sisters have been on their isolated Greek island for centuries, longer than any mortal can remember. They spin, measure, and slice the countless golden threads of human life. They are the three Fates, and they have stayed separate for good reason: it is dangerous for them to become involved with the humans whose lives they shape.
So when a beautiful girl named Aglaia shows up on their doorstep, Chloe tries to make sure her sisters don’t become attached. But in seeking to protect them, Chloe discovers the dark power of Aglaia’s destiny. As her path unwinds, the three Fates find themselves pulled inextricably along—toward mortal pain, and mortal love, and a fate that could unravel the world.