YEM Author Interview: Ray Star shares why animals and the environment are such a big theme in her book Earthlings: The Beginning

Ray Star is the author of Earthlings: The Beginning. Earthlings: The Beginning is the first of what is to be a trilogy of books. The novel comes from a love for animals and the environment. The book follows Peridot who has lived a sheltered life, raised by an overprotective mother on a remote island. YEM was able to speak with Ray about where her passion for the environment come from, who her writing inspirations are, and  something she hopes her readers take away from reading her books.

Young Entertainment Mag: Do you remember when you first knew you wanted to be a writer?

Ray Star: English was always my favourite subject at school and looking back, I’ve wanted to write ever since I was a little girl. I dabbled in freelance journalism throughout my career but my true passion for writing didn’t find me until I wrote the Earthlings tale. From the very first chapter, I knew writing fiction was what I was always meant to do. 

YEM: Your first book Earthlings: The Beginning was just released. What can you tell us about it?

Ray: Earthlings is book one of a YA Fantasy trilogy with a planet-positive message to the narrative. As a firm believer in magick, writing YA Fantasy came naturally to me, and the message behind the story is one that is very close to my heart. 

Earthlings – The Beginning, is the tale of a magick-born girl named Peridot, and unbeknown to her, she lives in a world unlike any other. In the Earthlings world, humans are no longer in charge, and an unexpected species rules the land. We follow her journey as she discovers this first-hand, meeting friends and foes along the way, trying desperately to control wonderous gifts she didn’t know she possessed whilst trying to decide, ultimately, whether she should use them to try and save humanity or if the world would be better if they were left to their fate.

I’m very humbled that Earthlings recently won Book of The Year 2021 with an independent bookstore and an Environmental Excellence Award with my local community in Essex.

Earthlings is printed on recycled paper where possible and I plant a tree per book sale via Ecologi. The Peridot Forest is growing strong, and I can’t wait to visit it in years to come.

YEM: What made you decide to write a trilogy?

Ray: Originally, Earthlings was meant to be a stand-alone novel, but, with so many characters, plot twists, and such an important message I wanted to portray, one book wasn’t enough. It may be a struggle to get it into three!

YEM: What was the best part of creating Earthlings: The Beginning?

Ray: Writing about things I genuinely care about and have a passion for. Animals, the environment, and magick.

YEM: Your passion for animals and the environment prompted you to create the Earthlings Trilogy, is that going to be a major theme in all of your books?

Ray: I think with the current climate crisis that we’re faced with – it has to be. It’s an absolute joy writing fictional worlds filled with magick and adventure, but ultimately, I want my work to leave people thinking, if only for a moment; “what can I do to help make this world wonderful again?”

YEM: Where did your passion for the environment come from?

Ray: Oh gosh. What a question. I could write a novel on this alone! Earth is our home. And as the saying goes; ‘There is no planet B’. We may hold the technology to someday inhabit Mars or the moon, but will it be as plentiful there as it is currently on our home planet?

From the earth we walk upon, to the air we breathe, the water we drink or the fire that warms our skin, our home planet is as close to paradise as we are ever going to get, I love our home with every fibre of my being, and I just wish I had the power to save it. My writing is my attempt to try.

YEM: Who are your writing inspirations?

Ray: Any author that uses their words to help people or try and make this world a better place; Sarah Gottess, Lisa Lister, Lauren James, Melinda Salisbury, Ed Winters, Matt Haig … I could fill a book with writers whose works inspire me. It gives me hope to know there are so many out there trying to make a positive change to our planet through literature.

YEM: What is something you hope your readers take away from reading your books?

Ray: That each of us holds within our grasp the power to make this world a better place.

YEM: Do you have any advice for someone who wants to become a writer?

Ray: If you’re reading this with the aspiration to write, simply, start writing. 

If you aren’t sure what to write about, delve into your inner self and work out what makes your stomach burn inside. When you find the topic that makes your veins flow with fire, or your cheeks flush excitedly, you have your subject. After that, the story will come.

What do you like and why? What don’t you like and why? What are your goals? Aspirations? Dreams? Favourite places? Your fears? 

Make a list of anything that comes to mind, from names, places, feelings, to potential plot lines and a story will start to form. 

When you have a rough idea of what you want to write about… let the words flow.

YEM: How long did the process of making Earthlings: The Beginning take you?

Ray: Earthlings took me just over a year to write, but just as long to get traditionally published. 

I originally self-published out of fear that someone else would have a similar story and beat me to it, only for a traditional publisher to reach out and re-publish Earthlings a year later. That is why there are two different covers for Earthlings, there’s the version when I self-published in 2020 and the current version via my publisher whom I am forever grateful for believing in the Earthlings tale and re-published with an updated cover in August 2021.

YEM: Are any of the characters from your book inspired by anyone you know in your real life?

Ray: Many – one of the bad guys is named after an ex-neighbour that I recently moved house to get away from, and two of my all-time favourite characters are inspired by my canine companions Phoenix and Freyja, they’re snoring away beside me as I answer these questions. Any typos are where Freyja puts her head on my laptop!

YEM: What was your favourite scene from your book to write?

Ray: I find it easier writing a male POV so Euan’s chapters (Peridot’s best friend) are my favourite to write. And Alan. He is one evil mother clucker. And I adore him. He is who I wrote the story for. There are so many Alan’s out there and I wish I could save them all. Earthlings is my attempt, to try.

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