Ray Star is a debut author and vegan activist. Her first novel, Earthlings: The Beginning, is an epic adventure story, taking place in a world where non-human animals have become the ruling class. Star is an exceptionally motivated author. She is a member of the Climate Fiction Writers League, planting one tree per book sale, and recently launched the #READGREEN campaign, an endeavor to get sustainable printing options on Amazon KDP.
Earthlings: The Beginning is your debut novel. Can you talk a little bit about your writing process? When did you begin writing Earthlings?
RS: I’ve always wanted to be an author but the right story didn’t find me until my early thirties. It was 2017 and my dad had just passed of pancreatic cancer. Anyone that’s lost a loved one to the dreaded C word will know, watching a person you care for suffer as the disease eats away at them, eats away a piece of you too, and when they pass, a little of your soul passes with them.
From that moment onwards, my life has never been the same.
In his last moments Dad spoke to me quite frankly about life and his biggest regret was working so much. This resonated deeply with me as a business owner and I made the decision to close my business but, what would I do instead? I’d had the same business since my teens, it was all I knew, I wanted to do something meaningful instead, but had no plan of action for what this could be.
Then, one afternoon at lunch with my mum, as we sat waiting for our orders to arrive, a tropical fish tank adjacent to our table caught my eye. The fish were striking, displaying a vivid array of colours, and it occurred to me that no-one outside of this restaurant would ever witness their beauty. These poor creatures would spend their entire lives swimming round in circles, until the time came for them to leave this world and go where ever it is we go when that fateful day reaches us, and this swallowed me with sadness.
Then my dinner arrived. Creamed cod, mash and mixed greens.
The hypocrisy in my feelings for these caged wonders hit me like a brick to the face, and in that moment, my new career path found me. I decided to write a story about a world, identical to ours in many ways, only with one major difference… humans would no longer be at the top of the food chain.
I was Pescatarian until that afternoon, then, within 3 months I transitioned to a fully Vegan lifestyle and it’s continued to change my world in ways I never fathomed possible. It is my hope, along the many twists and turns of the Earthlings tale, readers may get to experience something similar to my ‘fish tank experience’ and prompt positive change for our fellow Earthlings.
What drew you to the climate fiction genre for Earthlings?
RS: As clichéd as this may sound, it was hard not to make the story about saving the world, when our own world needs saving so desperately. I wanted to highlight practises in modern day society that many of us partake in, that are harmful to the planet and it’s creatures, but in a non-judgemental way. This was crucial when creating the Earthlings world, the message behind the book had to be a subliminal one, for potential readers who may not share the same concerns to want to read the story, I had to make it about something other than animal rights and climate change.
So, with this in mind, as an eclectic witch, I opted to write a story about the wonder that is magick.
Earthlings is the tale of a girl named Peridot, raised away from the realities of her world and unbeknown to her, she is magick-born. We follow her journey as she escapes the safety of her homeland to make her way into the outside world, only to discover it is not as she’s been led to believe. All species have full sentience, and the world is run by an unlikely dictator intent on keeping humanity and magick-born enslaved. Peridot must decide whether to use her powers to help, whilst deciding for herself, is the world ultimately worth saving?
I’m hoping readers will click to the role reversal and want to research and make positive changes that will help our planet and its inhabitants in the process.
Earthlings is my form of peaceful activism for the animals and environment, and all profits are being set aside to open an animal sanctuary here in the UK, when my finances make this possible.
Are there any particular climate fiction writers that inspire you?
RS: In truth, like many others, I didn’t know that Climate Fiction was a genre. I wrote a book about the things I felt passionate about; animals, the environment, and magick, only to be contacted after publication to become a member of the Climate Fiction Writers League. Until that moment, I had no idea that Climate Fiction was a current genre, and it’s filled my spirit with hope for our future.
There are so many amazing authors out there, writing their socks off to try and save our planet and it’s children, and not just the waggy tailed wet nosed ones – all of them, from the eight legged to the two. Seeing how many out there share my concerns and want so desperately to turn our current predicament around, means we stand a fighting chance at making it happen.
My TBR list is now full of Climate Fiction that I am yet to read, this time next year I’ll be able to answer this question with a list of inspiring authors, but for now, anyone looking to read more works of Climate Fiction, please check out the Climate Fiction Writers League, founded by Lauren James.
One element of Earthlings that I have particularly enjoyed is how realistic the protagonist, Peridot, is. Where did you draw inspiration from for this character?
RS: This question made me smile.
Peridot is the innocence that remains in our world. The child that doesn’t comprehend what nuggets, sausages and burgers are made from, the mind that hasn’t grasped the harsh reality that so many species are dying each day for the products that go in our shopping trolleys.
I wanted readers to experience the horrors of the Earthlings world through an innocents eyes, to experience the true mix of emotions I believe any one of us would feel, if we stumbled unknowingly into a slaughter house, dairy farm or animal testing facility.
Peridot’s character is pure fiction, not based on anyone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, but many of her traits come from my own love for Mother Nature, whilst her unique name was in homage to my dad and a Peridot ring he asked me to wear when his time came. I wear it every day, Peridot is with me always, and I hope a little of her stays with readers too.
Earthlings is set to be a trilogy. Can you give us any insight into the next two books? Do you have a timeline for their release?
RS: Each book within the trilogy is named after an animal rights documentary I would like to raise awareness for, Earthlings is book one, book two (Dominion) is in the editing process due for release next year, and I plan to start writing the final instalment (A Land Of Hope and Glory) after the festive season. After the trilogy is complete I plan to write a prequel (The Changing) which will be Peridot’s mother’s story of how the Earthlings world came to be, and how the other species came into power.
Prior to being picked up by Chronos Publishing, you opted to self-publish Earthlings. What prompted this decision?
RS: Truthfully – I self-published out of pure impatience, which, looking back I regret, but as many other debut authors may relate to, getting signed to a literary agent is a long, painful procedure, with many politely written rejection letters received in the process.
Unfortunately, I was unable to find an agent that aligned with the Earthlings message, I received many kind words for the story, but the overall feedback was that agents wouldn’t know where to start marketing-wise on where to pitch Earthlings. If there is a vegan literary agent out there that works with YA authors, I was unable to find them, and as I believe in the Earthlings story so strongly, I opted to self-publish in the hope of getting my story out into the world.
Then, as luck would have it, a traditional publisher came back to my submission a month later and I rereleased Earthlings with Chronos Publishing. I remain un-agented which means I have to put a lot of time and effort into getting the story out there but luckily my previous business was in PR, almost like this was meant to be. Magick working it’s wonders again.
You’ve mentioned that your dream is to open an animal sanctuary and wildlife preserve. How long have you been involved in the animal rights movement?
RS: Before Dad passed, I was an omnivore that had never heard of veganism. If I’m being honest, I was most likely one of the eye-rollers that drive many a vegan (including myself) positively potty. When I transitioned fully vegan in 2018, an entire world was opened to me, that I genuinely was not aware of. I knew that what I was eating was an animal, but it never occurred to me the suffering that went on to produce the ‘products’ I was purchasing.
It keeps me up at night, I want to help these poor animals and our polluted planet and Earthlings is the result of that desire, but, it’s not enough. I want to do more. I need to do more. I have to.
But first, I need land, and a safe space for animals to heal and live out their lives in peace. To achieve this, I need a substantial wad in my savings account, which I’m working on. I am hoping, realistically, to be able to open the sanctuary by my early forties. In the meantime, I attend Save movement vigils when childcare permits and take my boys to animal sanctuaries local to me, whilst writing for various media outlets to raise awareness for animals and the environment.
My books are printed on recycled paper with all distributers except for Amazon who do not offer a sustainable printing option, so I launched the #ReadGreen campaign, petitioning Amazon to offer sustainable printing to the book world, and I plant 1 tree per book sale.
We must practise what we preach.
For Dominion and Land of Hope and Glory, I need to visit a slaughterhouse which I am tremendously apprehensive about, but for the Earthlings world to be as realistic as possible, I need to experience the realities with my own eyes to write accurately about it.
Any advice for fellow vegan writers?
RS: Do not give up on your story, if it feels right and the intent is genuine, your story will be heard. Write from the heart and readers will fall for your words when they have a chance to read them.
Any aspiring authors are welcome to contact me via my website or socials, whether to read, advise or promote, if it’s to help animals and our planet, I’ve got your back and you can have mine if you want to. Only together will we save them.
If it harm none, so mote it be.
From a fellow Earthlings