It’s my stop with MTMC Tours to talk about THE BLAZING STAR by Imani Josey!
This is such a whirlwind of an adventure; time travel, complicated sister bonds, ancient Egypt (!!!) and buried secrets and truths and magical powers that just might change the world. I had a real Ancient Egypt obsession as a kid (I read so many books and all those Usborne Encyclopaedias 😂) so this was really fun to read now and recognise a lot of the gods and references! You can tell so much love and historical research has been poured into the pages. Plus add in an explosion of magic.
One of my favourite parts of the story has to be the characters! Portia is our heroine and she is the best. Her comebacks made me snort 😂 and I adored how she was both fierce and vulnerable, forthright and wry. Throw Portia headlong into ancient Egypt and half the time her reaction was 🤨 (Also the moment she taught the Egyptian prince a modern dance cracked me up. He was so earnest trying to learn it and Portia is just smirking.) There’s also so much depth and complexity to her. She’s twins with an absolute genius, Alex, and their relationship is loyal and loving — but also fraught with tension and jealousy. As someone who has 4 sisters, I totally got it. 10/10 for accurate siblings on page. Portia was never mean or bitter about it, but it hurt always being the girl in the background clapping for her sister’s next huge award. Everyone looooved Alex and forgot Portia.
The whole cast is fantastic characters too. I adored the priestesses and their many facets and secrets. Tasherit was the besssst. And I loved the soft younger-sibling-bonds Portia developed for the freshman from her school, Selene, who gets swept into the adventure too. So if you want a book packed with complex and fantastic women? Here it is.
The Blazing Star is such a dazzling adventure, with bright magic and clawing danger, and unstoppable girls with incredible fates.
There’s an INTL giveaway over on my instagram too!
Sixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius.
But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again?
She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow.
Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger.
As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home.
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ABOUT IMANI JOSEY
Imani Josey is a writer from Chicago, Illinois. In her previous life, she was a cheerleader for the Chicago Bulls and won the titles of Miss Chicago and Miss Cook County for the Miss America Organization, as well as Miss Black Illinois USA.
Her one-act play, Grace, was produced by Pegasus Players Theatre Chicago after winning the 19th Annual Young Playwrights Festival. In recent years, she has turned her sights to long-form fiction.
The Blazing Star was her debut novel; it is followed by its sequel The Falling Star. Find her at Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram
Hi Imani, thanks so much for chatting with us today about your book! Can you tell us two inspirations behind writing The Blazing Star?
Anytime! I had quite a few inspirations for this book/book series, so I’ll break the two inspirations recommendation.
Movie-wise, I drew inspiration from The Mummy and the Pirates of the Caribbean (first three movies, not the last ones) films. Book-wise, I loved Nefertiti and The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran as well as well as anything Shadowhunters from Cassandra Clare.
Personally, my mom was into ancient Egypt, and the stars, and that interest passed on to me as well. I also like exploring sister relationships in my work. I gravitate towards sisterhood in my writing as I’m one of three girls (no brothers, though I always wanted one). I’m in the middle (even though my little sister is significantly younger than my older sister and me, making her experience more like growing up as an only child). I had Portia and Alex (Portia is the protagonist of this story, and Alex is her genius twin) in my head for awhile before I started writing, but when I realized they were sisters, the words started to come. It was like, Oh, I get this relationship.
I also like exploring sibling relationships because in many YA stories, the protagonist is an orphan or any only child, or is much older than their siblings so they’re more like a substitute parent. I thought that was interesting, because so many people have siblings and outside of your parents, it’s the first relationship you’re navigating. No one knows you like your siblings. My older sister told me literally yesterday, “You’re the longest relationship I’ve ever had.”
I totally agree about sibling relationships! I have 4 sisters (and a brother!) and it definitely can be both chaotic and also some of the most fulfilling friendships to ever make 😭💛 Can you walk us through your publishing journey? How did you go from first idea to published novel?
The bones of The Blazing Star came from a story I wrote when I was 10 years old. My dad still has it. Any who, I went on to high school, college, and grad school, cheered and did pageants, and during that crazy fast span of life, I stopped writing longer pieces.
But after grad school I got into YA, historical fiction, and fantasy. I knew I was done with all the other things (school and stage and whatnot) and wanted to get back into writing. I was stringing scenes together of this girl on a big adventure, and soon realized that first manuscript I wrote as a kid (three girls going to an alternate dimension) worked for what was becoming The Blazing Star, and then I added the time travel element. The first scene I wrote is currently Chapter 28 entitled Swordplay. I then worked with Wise Ink Creative Publishing to get the series into the hands of readers.
I’m so glad you found your way back to writing 😍 Which is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or the end of the book?
Good question! I enjoy writing the beginning (Act 1) and the second part of Act 2 (Bad Guys Close In if you’re doing Save the Cat). The Blazing Star was my first book, so I had to discover my book-writing process. I’d written articles, short stories, plays, and novellas for my friends, but learning how to write a book was a different animal. For a while I was stringing scenes together (yep, pantser) and then after a lot of editing, I learned I had to start outlining. That made writing my favorite portions of the book easier.
As someone who’s both pansted and outlined too…I found outlining worked much better for me too 😂👌🏻Reading The Blazing Star was such an excellent way to travel (well, time-travel!) without ever leaving my chair. Have you ever travelled abroad? Or where would you like to go?
I have a long list of places I’d love to travel! Egypt, South Africa, and a few cities in Europe are at the top of my list.
I hope you get to someday! And lastly, what is something you loved about writing Portia?
I loved writing Portia. When I was finished, I realized she was a lot like my older sister, as I gave her many of my sis’s admirable qualities. Portia is brave and spunky, and fearless and assertive. I really appreciate who she is as a person.
She really was an absolutely fantastic heroine and I loved every minute we had with her! Thank you so much for this sneak peek into you writing process and inspirations. It’s been amazing talking!! 😍
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