Author from Strathmore publishes debut fiction novel

An author with roots stemming from Strathmore has published her debut fiction novel, which launched officially on Oct. 18 to the public.

The novel ‘Stars in their Eyes’ has been seven years in the making for Kristy Gardner, who made the jump from cookbooks to dystopian fiction.

“It’s a dark sci-fi novel and it is about this woman named Calay and her (romance) with her girlfriend which has kept them alive four years after aliens decimated Earth,” said Gardner. “Calay is thrust into darkness after her girlfriend disappears and she is forced to navigate the pacific northwest searching for her. All the while, she is haunted by horrors beyond her imagination and she struggles to hang onto what is left of her humanity.”

Gardner explained she was inspired to jump into dark fiction writing after reading a surplus of novels in a similar genre prior to beginning work on Stars in their Eyes.

Much of the archetypes present in her novel, she said, stemmed from zombie fiction, as well as utilizing references from her own life as inspiration.

“I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead, so it was definitely inspired by that kind of post-apocalyptic question of, ‘what is humanity, what will we do to hang onto that?’” said Gardner. “A lot of Calay’s journey was my journey and I think that comes through in the story.”

Despite her background writing nonfiction, such as her cookbook which launched roughly five years ago, Gardner said it has always been a dream of hers to branch into fiction.

She has had a passion for writing and storytelling since childhood, which, to her dissatisfaction, she had largely set aside coming into adulthood in order to meet more “normal” career expectations.

“I distinctly remember sitting at my mom’s sewing table in the basement and I had all of these pens and notebooks and I would be drafting story ideas,” said Gardner. “I put that all aside for most of my adult life to do the things that I was told I need to do¬ – get a proper job, toe the line, marry and have kids. I didn’t do any of that, even through I felt pressured to do so.”

Gardner described making the switch to fiction writing as “getting back to (herself) and telling the truth,” akin to scratching a longstanding itch.

Following the launch of the book, she said it was very a very emotional experience to consider.

“It is super exciting, it is terrifying, the way I was talking to my agent about it is that it is almost soul chilling,” said Gardner. “I held my book for the first time … and I just sat down and cried ugly tears and it was amazing.”

Gardner plans to follow up Stars in their Eyes with two more volumes, aiming to create a trilogy by the conclusion of the project.

Stars in their Eyes is currently available for purchase on Amazon and will be making its way into bookstores shortly, following delays in printing and distribution.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times