Egmondville native, New York Times bestselling author to release new book
BY DENNY SCOTT
Egmondville native and New York Times bestselling author Kate Johnston will be releasing a new novel this week: Aetherbound, a young-adult-focused space adventure.
Johnston, who has published 10 books, including her work with Lucasfilm to pen several novels set in the Star Wars universe, said her 11th book is a science fiction coming-of-age story focused on Pendt Harland.
Johnston explained that Harland is “dramatically undervalued” by her family, leading to a story of rebellion and self-discovery. Johnston started putting together the pieces of the novel in 2015 after seeing Jupiter Ascending, a science fiction film. From there, she incorporated ideas from the Arthurian tale of the Fisher King, the fabled guardian of the Holy Grail, and the 1992 cod fishery collapse in Eastern Canada.
She said, in the universe she’s created for the novel, space stations are similar to fisheries because they focus on single resources and, when that resource becomes scarce, it can lead to significant problems.
While she’s been working on the premise of the novel for half a dozen years, she really started working on it in earnest during the pandemic, taking four months to write it. While the pandemic has proven to be a unique time for people who work from home, Johnston explained the lockdowns actually made it more difficult to get the story together.
“I have a home office and I technically always work ‘from’ home, but I rarely work at home,” she said. “I work at coffee shops, or with a friend when we visit or when I stay with my siblings. Being alone for four months didn’t help the creative process.”
The novel comes out May 25 and is described, on the website, as follows:
“Set on a family-run interstellar freighter called the Harland and a mysterious remote space station, E. K. Johnston's latest is [a] story of survival and self-determination. Pendt Harland's family sees Pendt as a waste of food on their long-haul space cruiser when her genes reveal an undesirable mutation. But if she plays her cards right she might have a chance to do much more than survive. During a space-station layover, Pendt escapes and forms a lucky bond with the Brannick twins, the teenage heirs of the powerful family that owns the station. Against all odds, the trio hatches a long-shot scheme to take over the station and thwart the destinies they never wished for.”
Johnston really started making a name for herself in the literary world with her novel, The Story of Owen, which earned her a nomination for the 2015 William C. Morris YA Debut Award, which honours a book written for teens and published by a first-time author. The book, about a young dragon slayer, turned out to be the catalyst for her career.
Johnston told The Citizen that, the morning of the awards ceremony, she was trying to stay away from the internet, so she put pen to paper and generated a proposal to produce novels for the Star Wars universe.
She says that, on the morning of the awards ceremony, she sent her proposal to her agent at 9 a.m. and heard back from him within 13 minutes with plans to get it in front of someone at Lucasfilms, the company behind the Star Wars universe. It took some time, as Lucasfilms was in the midst of the final three films in the original Star Wars series, however in the fall of 2015, she had signed on to write novels as part of the space opera’s unique universe.
Two of her three Star Wars novels, Star Wars: Ahsoka and Star Wars: Queen’s Shadow made the New York Times bestseller list, with Ahsoka claiming the illustrious list’s top spot.
For more information about Johnston’s books, visit her website at www.ekjohnston.ca