My Life and Starganauts
By C.E. Stone
Starganauts. From the time I was 3, I was creating paracosms, but I couldn't have imagined the scope or impact of this particular space universe. I did not anticipate writing Starganauts as a series. It was, after all, the plot of seven years of Lego play. I used my Lego characters to weave adventurous narratives, and the characters and plots grew in complexity as I grew older. The very first Starganauts were simply three space people, with two simple ships and a villain who was a skull beneath a glass dome. I liked the idea of the Starganauts so well that I involved my Lego townspeople in the story, and they became the first 8. I brought in a villain to destroy the Lego world with a gunship (a Nerf weapon), and Starganauts was born!
What began as literal child’s play quickly turned into an imaginary “television show” which ran for many “seasons.” Every time I played, I pretended it was an “episode.” I decided somewhere during my first year of playing Starganauts that it would be fun to have them use crystals to transform into superheroes with special weapons and armor. The first 8 Starganauts faced Vogul, Vogul’s Trylithian “blood brother” Mexil, and a Cybrius (space pirate) captain who employed a Lego Sith lord. Each season lasted until they defeated a villain, so the first Starganaut generation had three “seasons.”
After the original 8, I had new ideas for the human characters. I kept the same Starganaut “Forms” because I had a limited number of Lego pieces which I considered cool. This “2nd Generation” discovered new orbs, new worlds, and added new characters through seven seasons and five villains. I decided to set the 2nd Generation 120 years after the first, for an odd reason. In the storyline with the Cybrius, the original 8 had been old until their youth returned after basking in the mysterious Light of Lore. Since this reverted them to their 20s and they got to grow old again, I wanted enough time to pass before a new crop of Starganauts hit the scene. Although you won’t find this wacky timeline in my book series, you will find a version of the “Light of Lore” in a later story.
The “3rd Generation” Starganauts included many of the previous group’s descendants, and took place 22 years later. By this time, my characters (and villains) were much more rounded and my stories were more complex. Two characters turned out to be secretly married. Vanessa, a vain member of the crew, went through a heart transformation. A good guy from the 2nd Gen. became vengeful and turned on the other Starganauts for a time, and some of the bad guys were not entirely evil. However, the 3rd Generation never had a definitive ending. My character development and plotlines continued past the last great villain this generation faced. It was only my Lego play fizzling out as I aged that discontinued any further “episodes.”
I mention this summary of Starganauts to show why the idea of writing it as a book series didn't come to me until recently. True, I started writing a story set in the same universe, called The , after I stopped playing Legos. But this story focused on a time thousands of years before the 8, so writing about the main stories behind my space universe didn't occur to me. They were too ingrained in my mind as TV episodes, which I hoped one day might become a real television series. The one attempt I did make at writing down the first “season’s” plot ended in utter failure, so I figured Starganauts was meant for TV, not print. It was not until I penned another Gorvan System tale that I was inspired to try again. Even then, it was at the urging of , who'd asked about the lore behind the story. I will never forget that afternoon when I began telling her all about Starganauts. I talked for over an hour! At the end of this, she gazed at me with amazement, her eyes blinking slowly. “Gal pal,” she said, “you seriously need to write this down!”
Thus began the first trilogy I’ve ever written. I started with the intention of simply writing a broad overview of the trials and triumphs of the Starganauts, along with details about plots and lists of who was in what generation. I became so inspired in the process that I dived into writing Book 1. As I did, I began to realize that this was God’s timing for me to start putting my longest series down on paper. Why, you may ask? Well, that's where the hardships come in.
It was the end of 2015. I had been married in January, and had gone through 18 months of nonstop trials. So many things went wrong with our wedding plans, vendors, finding an apartment, our marriage, and our finances. I went from loving parents and a stable household—financially, emotionally, and spiritually—to a life that was anything but. I experienced gut-wrenching hardship
for the first time, and learned what it was to scrape by just surviving. When I started writing Starganauts, things were getting a little better. Yet I noticed that my own life’s circumstances were working their way into the narrative. Before, I had failed to write the story because it lacked relatability. I’d been young, single, and never in want. To write about eight humans from Earth who survive a literal ending of the world they’d known, I’d needed to experience over a year of trials and poverty as a newlywed.
Unfortunately, things were to take a sharp turn for the worst. The war which would dominate Vengeance of Sorrow became a reflection of my own year of difficulty…my battle against hopelessness, despair, and wondering why God kept allowing suffering. My husband again lost his job—this time, for 9 months. Three of my relatives died. My hours dropped so drastically at my part-time job that I left to launch my own business. My husband became so depressed that he almost gave up looking for work. We barely scraped by for months and, at one point, thought we might lose our apartment. Like the Starganauts, I was facing a storm of unemployment, death, loss…and it overwhelmed me. Yet I kept pressing on. Like the 8, I would not give up, and God provided just enough for us to get by. Despite the fact that my own happy ending had not yet arrived, I finished Vengeance of Sorrow in August. I wrote the conclusion I still yearned for in my life, and I began the third installment, Defector, in earnest.
Starganauts: Defector sprang from an original story line and the suggestion of my mother. Vengeance of Sorrow was based on what I could remember of a “season” where the Trylithians fought Vexador, and I heavily modified the plot. Defector originated from the Starganauts’ encounter with the Cybrius following that war. While I had forgotten the Cybrius arc and therefore built it from the ground up, the abduction of a certain character is Starganauts canon. My mother had also commented that it would be interesting to have the Starganauts face disunity. Disunity became the theme of the book. There is no unity between Cybrius clans, as readers will see in the betrayal of one Cybrius leader by another. Sharko’s inaction, Samantha’s type-A aggression, and other characters giving up cause the Starganauts' unity to falter, as well.
Defector may seem out of synch with my life, compared to the other books. However, I began writing it in June of 2017, before I finished Vengeance of Sorrow. While the Starganauts searched desperately for one of their own, my husband was still searching for employment. Then, as they were drawing closer to their goal, I was finally reaching financial stability. My husband at long last was hired! It was a grueling, manual labor job that paid minimum wage, but he took it happily. My business started picking up, and our lives turned around.
For the Starganauts, that happy reversal of fortune is tempered. Defector will end with some happiness as well as sorrow, and that is a perfect correlation to my life. While my husband and I are now financially stable, we’re not even close to achieving our dreams. Yet we have options, and I find it fascinating how my writing, and my life, have been mirroring each other as I penned these first three books of Starganauts. It will be interesting to see what God has in store for me with the fourth book!