Wednesday, 29 February 2012

What is a Starheart? Guest post by Greta van der Rol

Please welcome author Greta van der Rol to my blog on the release of her latest scifi STARHEART.

What is a Starheart?

Thanks so much for hosting me, Pippa.Oh, you're very welcome.
If you've been following along, you'd know that I'm telling folk about my new novel, 'Starheart'. Here's the blurb, so you'll know what I'm talking about if you're late to the party.
She's lost her husband, her best friend is missing. What else has she got to lose?

Slightly shady freighter captain, Jess Sondijk, thought she had her life under control until Admiral Hudson's Confederacy battle cruiser stops her ship to search for contraband. His questions reopen matters she had thought resolved. What if her husband's death on his way back from Tabora wasn't accidental? Jess decides to investigate, while keeping Hudson at arms' length.

While he's attracted to the lovely Jess, Hudson is also concerned about what might be happening on Tabora and how that may involve the Confederacy's enemies.

Jess and Hudson's interests collide in more ways than one. But while Jess is more than willing to put her life on the line to protect what's hers, Hudson must balance the risk of inter-species war at worst and the end of his career at best, in a deadly game of political intrigue, murder and greed. At the end of the day, how much is he willing to lose for the woman he has come to love?

Today, I'd like to talk about the book's title – 'Starheart'. The obvious thing is probably to imagine that – since the book has a romance tag – this is just a play on the romantic element. If you thought that, you were wrong.
A Starheart is a jewel, a rare and unusual jewel. Starhearts have only been found on a very few ptorix worlds. The ptorix prize them; the translation of the ptorix name is something like 'windows of the soul' because they resemble ptorix eyes. The trade in Starhearts is one reason why Admiral Hudson is interested in the lovely Jess Sondijk and what happened to her husband Troy in a botched boarding.
Starhearts are not jewels in the sense of emeralds and diamonds, which are formed when carbon is subjected to pressure. The process is easy enough to simulate in a lab and in fact, synthetic diamonds are routinely produced for industrial purposes. Perhaps the closest gem to a Starheart I can think of is a pearl, in as much as it is produced by a living thing. A pearl shell is seeded in some way and the creature covers the irritant with layers of nacre, forming the pearl over time. But here again, pearls are routinely cultured.
Starhearts are formed when a living organism, which exists in the tortured depths of a moon not unlike Jupiter's IO, is spewed up in an eruption. If the chunk of lava is retrieved before it freezes, the organism lives on. The resulting gem makes black opal look lack-lustre.
Some people might say that it's hard to imagine anything able to live in molten lava. In reply, I point you at the depths of the Atlantic Ocean where two tectonic plates are separating. Lava boils up from the Earth's depths, scalding the dark, icy water. Living things exist down there, clustered around the vents, without light, under enormous pressure. Who knows what exists on IO, or for that matter, the greater universe? All we do know is life is tenacious.
You can find out more about Starheart on Amazon here.

I'll be at on 1st March to tell you about my aliens.

To celebrate the release of 'Starheart' I'll be giving a $25 Amazon gift voucher to one person who leaves a comment on any of the blogs I visit until 10th March. So leave a comment here and you'll be in the draw.

Greta van der Rol loves writing science fiction with a large dollop of good old, healthy romance. She lives not far from the coast in Queensland, Australia and enjoys photography and cooking when she isn't bent over the computer. She has a degree in history and a background in building information systems, both of which go a long way toward helping her in her writing endeavours.


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