Steal the Stars by Nat Cassidy based on Mac Rogers' Podcast (Interview & #Giveaway)

You can follow the tour here. Check out an interview with the authors and the giveaway below...

Steal the Stars
by Nat Cassidy
based on Mac Rogers' Podcast
Adult SciFi
Paperback & ebook, 416 Pages
November 7th 2017 by Tor Books



Dakota “Dak” Prentiss guards the biggest secret in the world.

They call it “Moss.” It’s your standard grey alien from innumerable abduction stories. Moss still sits at what looks like the controls of the spaceship it crash-landed twenty-five years ago. A secret military base was built around the crash site to study both Moss and the dangerous technology it brought to Earth.

The day Matt Salem joins her security team, Dak’s whole world changes.

It’s love at first sight—which is a problem, since they both signed ironclad contracts before joining the base security team, vowing not to fraternize with other military personnel. If they run away, they’ll be hunted for the secret they know. So Dak and Matt decide to escape to a better life on the wings of an incredibly dangerous plan: They’re going to steal the alien body they've been guarding and sell the secret of its existence.

And they can’t afford a single mistake.

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Welcome to my blog today!

What inspired the idea of novelizing this podcast? 

Nat: That was actually a very happy side effect of working with Tor Books. When Marco Palmieri and Jen Gunnels at Tor started putting together their ideas for Tor Labs (right around the time Mac, Sean Williams, Jordana Williams, and I were putting together our own ideas for Gideon Media), they knew that a novelization of whatever audio drama they produced would be part of the plan. After all, Tor is the genre publisher par excellence, and they have access to a whole host of world-renowned genre writers. When Tor Labs and Gideon Media joined up for STS, Tor offered us a right of first refusal to basically audition for the novelization job. I leapt at the opportunity, gave them around an 8,000 word audition, and they offered me the job, god bless 'em.

Mac: It was all part of Tor’s concept for how their new Tor Labs imprint would experiment with new models of publishing. The game-plan was always to release the novelization shortly after the final episode of the podcast aired, to give fans multiple flavors for how this storyline could be approached.

What did you, Nat, like about getting to write this novelization, and were there any interesting surprises as you wrote it? 

Nat: I started writing novels and short stories when I was a kid, around 9 or 10 years old, and I was pretty consumed by it. I didn't go anywhere without my folder full of stories I'd written, stories I was in the middle of writing, ideas for stories I wanted to write ... But then I got distracted writing plays and screenplays and I stopped writing longform prose for a long time. Over the past couple years, though, I started really itching to write novels again, but I also found the prospect of writing a novel as an adult to be weirdly intimidating (even though, as some critics will tell you, I've written some loooong-ass scripts). This opportunity wound up being a perfect chance to, basically, ride with some training wheels. I think my biggest, most pleasant surprise was that, to carry the metaphor just a bit farther, it really was like riding a bike. When writing scripts you have to sit on your own narrative prose voice—it can come out a little bit, but it can't be the star and it certainly has to stay concise—but finally being able to let those instincts call the shots was a really wonderful feeling, like speaking a language I forgot I was fluent in. Mac's such a good writer and his plotting is very tight, so I didn't have to worry about that stuff; I got to concentrate on just telling the story in a new way as evocatively as I could. Now I'm hooked again and already at work on my next (original) novel.

I'd say the biggest challenges with this particular assignment was that I was novelizing in real time. Our deadlines were so tight that it was this really fluid, urgent process: Mac would turn in a new episode and I'd immediately start incorporating it into my own manuscript. Often times I'd have to just make a choice about where I thought a certain plot thread was going or what a certain detail might mean. Thankfully, Mac and I both have very similar influences and backgrounds as writers and we can intuit what the other is going for, so I got most things right. But there were definitely some things that I guessed wrong and I'd have to throw the car in reverse and undo the stuff I'd already written in order to maintain the fidelity Tor wanted the novelization to keep.

What should readers know about these two main characters? 

Mac: Dakota “Dak” Prentiss is someone who’s been around, an older, decorated combat veteran who’s accrued a lot of skill and cunning in her time, but who’s burned out and looking for a quiet life. So she’s left the service and signed on for what she thinks will be a more relaxed job with this private defense contractor Sierra, guarding the alien and the spaceship they’re hiding beneath their Quill Marine compound. Over time, she’s risen in the Quill hierarchy to the point where she’s now Security Chief. She’s not someone who has sought out a lot of romance in her life, so when she falls head over heels for Matt, it upends her world. And now she’ll use every inch of that skill to find a way for them to be together. 

Matt Salem is younger than Dak, having left the service earlier in his career than she did. Similarly burned out, he’s also taken a security job at Quill Marine. Matt’s a really good-looking guy whose life has been softened by that a bit; people have always wanted to take care of him. Still, he was a good soldier and is somewhat resourceful, but it’s hard to tell (because in both the podcast and the book we see him through Dak’s eyes) if he has what it takes to stand up under pressure.

Nat: They've been badly dented by the world in which they're living. They're not broken, although they don't entirely know that they're not broken. They're both military lifers—Dak was in the Army Rangers and Matt was a SEAL—who are finding it impossible to adjust to civilian life. Dak also is not the typical romantic lead and there are some vicious insecurities running deep under the surface that she's not even aware of at first. They've both seen horrible things—and done horrible things—and they also don't realize how desperately they've been craving human connection ... until it's too late.

What is the world like at the time the story is set? 

Mac: STEAL THE STARS is set in the near future – maybe ten years down the road? A bit less, a bit more? The most important thing to know is that the private military contractor Dak and Matt work for, Sierra is quietly, insidiously taking over the United States by privatizing one chunk of the government after another, including military installations and government bureaus like ICE. This is steadily eroding American democracy. All this is kind of happening in the background, because it’s not our main characters’ focus – they’re more interested in falling in love with each other and how they’re going to be together. But this is where that background story is important to the main story: Sierra has brutally strict regulations against fraternization among their staffers, and the penalty for breaking these regulations is prison and redeployment. So Dak and Matt are facing terrible consequences if their escape plan fails.

Nat: It's a not-so-far-off future where much of the government has been privatized and is controlled by opaque corporations with dubious intentions (y'know: make-believe). In the case of the military, it's run by a company called Sierra. We also know that the United States has been involved in a number of military conflicts recently—there are war zones and chem zones and irradiated areas across the globe and, of course, Sierra uses the threat of deployment to those most dangerous areas as one of their most effective forms of discipline. Sierra is also brutal and unremitting when it comes to their contracts: you sign with them, you sign for life, and you sign away most of your rights (including, when it comes to the security detail at Quill Marine, your rights to even fraternize with your coworkers). But that also says a lot about the world around Sierra, right? People—smart, capable people like Dak and Matt—are willing to sign up anyway.

If you knew about an alien and a crashed ship on earth, what do you think you would do? 

Nat: Oh, man, I'd want to find out everything about it—especially if it were still alive. I'd want to hear its language, witness its physiology, learn about the society from which it comes. This is all assuming it's a peaceable encounter, of course—if that sucker's antagonistic, I'd want to be as far away as possible.

Mac: I’d like to think I’d be brave and go check it out for myself, maybe with some friends. But I’m afraid the truth is I’d be too scared. I’d like to think I’d find some scientists to show it to before I called more conventional authorities – but I’m not sure where to find the right kind of scientists!

Thanks for stopping by!

About the Authors

Nat Cassidy is an actor, director, musician, and playwright. He has appeared on shows such as The Following (Fox), The Affair (Showtime), Red Oaks (Amazon), High Maintenance (HBO), Law & Order: SVU (NBC), as well as on stage in numerous productions and workshops both Off- and Off-Off-Broadway. Nat’s plays have been nominated for a combined total of 17 New York Innovative Theatre Awards, including 3 times for Outstanding Full-Length Script (which he won in 2009, and in 2011 for Outstanding Solo Performance for his one man show about H.P. Lovecraft). In 2012 Nat was commissioned by The Kennedy Center to write the libretto for a world-premiere opera, and in 2014 his play Any Day Now was chosen to be part of Primary Stages’ ESPADrills (The Duke Theatre, directed by Tony-nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel). He is also thrilled to be writing the novelization of Steal the Stars, which will be published by Tor Books in November 2017.

Mac Rogers is an award-winning audio dramatist and playwright. His audio/podcasts dramas The Message and LifeAfter have been downloaded over eight million times. His stageplays include The Honeycomb Trilogy (winner of the New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Premiere Production), Frankenstein Upstairs, God of Obsidian, Ligature Marks, Asymmetric, Viral, Universal Robots, Hail Satan (Outstanding Playwriting Winner at FringeNYC 2007), and Fleet Week: The Musical (co-written with Sean Williams and Jordana Williams; winner of Outstanding Musical at FringeNYC 2005). He has earned acclaim from The New York Times, The Guardian, Backstage, The Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York, New York Post, Flavorpill, io9, Fangoria,, Show Business Weekly, New York Press, and many others.

Tour-Wide Giveaway

- 5 Winners will receive an Audio Copy of Steal the Stars by Mac Rogers.
- 5 Winners will receive Book Passages of Steal the Stars by Mac Rogers.
- Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter | Ends December 1, 2017

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