Hello all you strange and dear people somewhere out there in the vast, sprawling web of intangible interconnectedness. It’s always tricky to write about a new book release, because I am rather allergic to self-promotion, and while I want readers out there to experience the book, it is hard for me to try and sell you anything. So instead of crafting a half-hearted sales pitch, I am going to try and just be authentic and talk a little bit about my process writing this little-big sci-fi novel that is so important to me. Maybe you’ll get something out of hearing a little about my journey and maybe you’ll relate to some of it.
I started out writing Binary Stars at some point in 2017 as a loose sequel to my first novel, The Rise of Saint Fox and The Independence. Back then the book was this huge, sprawling thing beginning with the vastest world-building I had ever attempted—not only did I have to develop two entirely new species from which my main characters would stem—I had to invent an entire planet!—complete with its flora, fauna, societies, religions, and economic structure. It was a much more ambitious undertaking than anything I had written so far—so much had to be unearthed directly from my imagination and from research rather than relying on the easy satire of the near-future, or fictionalized versions of places I had visited. I often doubted if I was up to the task—there was so much to keep track of. Still, I kept plodding away at it and crafted an unusual narrative of love and malfunction between Jensun—a translucent, bigender farmer with depressive tendencies stemming from his residual guilt from his previous lifetime as a charismatic and insidious cult leader (a.k.a. Janus Jeeves of Saint Fox and The Independence), and VV—a biosynthetic android with a sharp tongue and a penchant for installing illegal software updates into themselves that end up triggering an “accidental” electronic enlightenment. The back cover copy goes on to tell you that Jensun and VV work together at a high-tech agricultural facility called mTac, that Jensun is reluctantly placed under VV’s supervision, and oh, that a global frost is threatening to destroy the planet—because even if this story is really about reincarnation, the metaphysical reality of our true nature, and finding love where you least expect it—it is still Sci-Fi!
So, why did it take me until 2022 to release this book into the wild? Well, shortly after releasing Saint Fox, I got into grad school, and let me tell you, if you think your creative writing MFA is going to give you time to work on your novel, you may be surprisingly mistaken. I did workshop some of it, and got some incredible feedback from my peers, but the length of my thesis would not accommodate a full novel, the workshop format better accommodated short stories, and the program itself, while masquerading as one open to different types of work, was not terribly accommodating to speculative fiction work—although I did find some support among peers and faculty alike, and their responses to what they saw of this book were overwhelmingly positive. Not to mention I had a huge work load from both teaching and taking classes, and then graduated in 2020 into a pandemic, followed by a new job as a university professor and a move to a different city.
Now, even without the snafus, a book taking five years to get published is hardly unheard of. And I’m particularly proud of this one, as I not only wrote the book but curated the entire experience from start to finish. I had worked with a small press before on my previous release, but also have years of graphic design experience under my belt and really wanted to be involved in every step of the process—nothing makes me geek out like selecting fonts for the layout of a book or getting the hair’s breadth of white space around an em dash just right—I knew I could create a stunning book, this time for myself rather than others. With my spoon in every pot on the stove (apologies for the metaphor I was trying to avoid saying “with my fingers in every pie…”), I feel I can truly be proud of the end result—a sweet, sad, funny, and edgy story in a galaxy far, far away that I truly believe in and that shares my unique vision of the world more vividly, honestly, and chaotically than anything else I have put out into the world so far.
I am so happy to share it with you.
Binary Stars by Kristin Yuan Roybal can be purchased in paperback or eBook on Amazon or at your favorite retailer. ISBN: 9798817267570.