A fun trend in science fiction romance over the past few years has been the appearance of ‘holiday’ novels. This year the first set of stories to arrive involve ‘alien reindeer shifters’ so I was highly intrigued to learn more about these books and share the information with our readers. I asked some general questions of Sonia Nova and the other authors involved about the series and then provided each author a chance to share their individual story inspiration and give us a peek into their To Be Read Lists!
Veronica Scott for AMAZING STORIES MAGAZINE: Please give me a short ‘blurb’ on the unifying concept.
Authors’ Answer: The authors of Starr Huntress were given a challenge: give readers a reindeer shifter in your holiday story. We all agreed to call our shifters “reilendeer” and decided they bring good cheer to the world around them… and then we went crazy! You might notice differences about the world and abilities of the reilendeer from story to story, and that’s because each author has put her own spin on the challenge.
ASM.: What was the spark behind the idea to create books around this concept?
AA: We love holiday stories! For the last two years, we’ve published holiday stories centered around a theme keeping with the spirit of the season. While brainstorming, reindeer shifters were tossed out as a joke, but the idea really grabbed the group as unusual and fun, so we ran with it.
ASM.: Who does your covers? .
AA: Kate Rudolph made a Photoshop template and the individual authors made their own covers.
ASM.: And who is the mysterious co-author, Starr Huntress?
AA: Starr Huntress is a group pen name established by authors dedicated to alien romance, like a brand identity. When readers see “Starr Huntress” they know there will be aliens and romance and adventure.
The series is releasing from Nov. 12 – 22, with a new title every day.
ASM.: And now for the individual authors’ answers on story sparks!
Kate Rudolph, The Alien Reindeer’s Wild Ride (A Winter Starr Book 5):
Rowan needs to get from Mars to Minnesota and all hope appears to be lost until she hears the name Dashiel Blitz. Dash isn’t just a pilot. He’s a reindeer shifter and he needs to keep that a secret if he wants to stay safe. But when a delay in their trip threatens to strand her on the wrong side of Earth, he may have to reveal himself in the most dramatic way possible.
Story spark: I love holiday stories, especially ones that play on tropes like Santa, reindeer, etc. I’m so happy that we’re all able to find a way to put our own spins on these stories. When I was plotting this out, I was thinking about the Christmas movies I watched during my childhood and the idea of being home for the holidays… and how that goes wrong. So here you have two characters who have to work together to get from one planet to another and they just so happen to fall in love along the way. It’s the holidays, it’s fun, and it was a blast to write.
To Be Read: Graveyard Shift by Jenn Burke, Claimed by by Laurann Dohner and Kele Moon,Edge of Eon by Anna Hackett
Nancey Cummings, The Alien Reindeer’s Bounty (A Winter Starr Book 6):
He was her first kiss and first heartbreak. Thirteen years after he said goodbye, can an alien shifter find his forever with a single mom?
Story spark: I wanted to write a feel-good Christmas story with the flavor of ‘Miracle on 34th Street’. I had a very clear image of a little girl in a snowy forest, asking Santa’s reindeer for a family for Christmas. That scene didn’t make it in the final draft and the story took a weird turn. I actually reconnected with one of my best friends from high school that I hadn’t spoken to in nearly twenty years, and I was so surprised about how easy it was to talk with him, like no time at all had passed since our falling out. So I used that as the root of Odessa and Mads’ relationship, one time besties, separated by a decade, and reconnecting again. Of course, one of them is an alien, so it’s a complicated a second chance, friends-to-enemies-to-lovers romance.
To Be Read: Bex McLynn – Bane, TJ Klune – Heartsong, Sandra R. Neeley – Lore
Sonia Nova, The Alien Reindeer’s Joy (A Winter Starr Book 7):
Spreading joy to children around the holidays, reindeer shifter Kaelar meets a woman who makes his heart stop. He needs to get her to touch his antlers to find out if she’s his true mate, but someone seems to be stealing joy around the town… Will Christmas be ruined forever?
Story spark: If there really were beings who could magically spread joy to those around them, it made me think: who could use some extra joy around the holidays? I thought of children who have to spend the holidays in a hospital, and since this story is all about joy, I wanted two people who have been putting everyone else first to find happiness of their own – Kaelar who spreads joy to people who need it, and Chloe who has devoted her life to her patients at the hospital.
To Be Read: Honey Phillips – Jackie and the Giant, Regine Abel – The Hunchback, Ivy McAdams – Abducted by an Alien Savage
Elin Wyn, The Alien Reindeer’s Redemption (A Winter Starr Book 8):
An alien shifter doesn’t want anything to do with Earth. He’s there to complete his mission, nothing else. Until he meets a single mother looking for her child, and helping his mate becomes the only mission that matters.
Story spark: We’re writing fun holiday stories, so I wanted to start with the grumpiest, least cheerful person imaginable. And then it turned into what could have made him that way, and what would turn him around. Rylant was so angry, so sure of himself, and Megan lost faith in anything but her child. How the two of them fit together made for the perfect holiday story for me.
To Be Read: Exit Strategy (Murderbot #4), by Martha Wells, Nadine’s Champion, by Ruby Dixon, The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal
Leslie Chase, The Alien Reindeer’s Christmas Package (A Winter Starr Book 9):
Delivering Christmas cheer from Earth to the colonists on Faraway isn’t the ideal job for Dhannar, and it gets worse when the reindeer shifter discovers that the planet’s been invaded. But when he meets Megan, a human on the run from the invaders, he realises that fate has sent him here for a reason. Now he’ll stop at nothing to protect his mate and save Christmas.
Story spark: I started thinking about Santa delivering presents to everyone on Earth in one night, and how that would change when humans spread to planets across the galaxy. Now it takes weeks to do a job that used to be one night! Enough to make anyone grumpy. Add that to a story of true love, a sassy human, and an alien invasion, and it turned into an exciting romance that I had a blast writing!
To Be Read: Enticed by the Alien, by Sabrina Kade, Forbidden, by Tana Stone, Sorta Seized by the Alien, by Athena Storm
Eden Ember, The Alien Reindeer’s Escape (A Winter Starr Book 10):
Elzarr came to Earth to escape his crowded home planet and the lack of a mate. He just wanted to be himself in both forms, until he catches a beautiful Earthling named Piper when she fell from her roof, then everything changed. Just as they connected, he had to escape Earth and head back home to fight in a war to save his planet and keep the enemy from invading Earth and hoped he could escape again to reunite with his newfound human mate.
Story spark: SciFi romance is a fun genre and the Winter Starr collection brought it to a new level. I’ve had a ton of fun writing this story complete with mystery, fantasy, and ultimately true love that wins. Elzarr wasn’t expecting to fall in love and when he does, he has to leave her in order to save her. As Christmas arrives, they reunite giving each other the ultimate holiday gift.
To Be Read: Rogue Sign by Elin Wyn, Vengeance by Jennifer Foehner Wells, Red Planet Dragons of Tajss by Miranda Martin
ASM Note: The covers for the following novels in the Winter Starr series were not available at press time as the titles are forthcoming shortly.
Cindy Heart, The Alien Reindeer’s Cabin (A Winter Starr Book 11):
Freed from his life of pulling the sleigh, Rein’ok settles into his mountain cabin on Earth. Lying in the snow after getting hit by a car, he only has one thought when he sees the beautiful woman staring down at him: Mine. Will the other aliens who’ve settled in the small town right before Christmas stop trying to kill them long enough for them to find their HEA?
Story spark: I love Christmas and often wonder at how annoyed some people get around the holiday. That sparked the idea of the little monsters who feed off of negative energy and how the holidays would be a perfect time for them to try and spread their negative energy. After that, I just needed to made-for-each-other main characters to fight to make sure everyone can have a joyous Christmas.
To Be Read: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsin Muir, The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders
Thanika Hearth, The Alien Reindeer’s Wish (A Winter Starr Book 12):
Elle’s friend thinks they came to Seven Pines to take a break from work and life. Elle knows she came for a different reason entirely: To uncover the story of the mysterious monster that haunts the ski slopes. Braxen, Seven Pines inhabitant, and secret alien stuck on Earth, will do anything to stop this
Story spark: I had been desperate to write a syrupy-sweet story about a workaholic who really needs to relax, and a paranormal outsider, set against the backdrop of a snowy Christmas village. When the girls at Starr Huntress landed on a reindeer alien, everything just clicked into place!
To Be Read: Year One by Nora Roberts, Centurion by Anna Hackett, Contaminated by Amanda Milo
S.A. Ravel, The Alien Reindeer’s Flight (A Winter Starr Book 13):
A Christmas miracle brought them together, his species might tear them apart.
Story spark: All of my stories take place in darker worlds. I saw a woman who lived in one of those worlds, but still wanted to feel the holiday spirit. Audrey Pope wouldn’t leave my head. I think we’re all familiar with missing a loved one at Christmas, but most of us don’t know which season with them might be our last. Audrey knows, and she’s determined to be happy anyway. There was something beautiful about that to me and, like Haj’erel, I struggled to understand her. The story is Haj and I figuring Audrey out.
To Be Read: Sorta Seized by the Alien – Athena Storm, The Edokas’ Destiny – SJ Sanders, Antagonist – R.A. Steffan
ASM.: Readers can go to http://starrhuntress.com/a-winter-starr/ for more information on the books.