Interview: Rhoda Belleza, author of Empress of a Thousand Skies

I’m thrilled to be a stop on the blog tour for Empress of a Thousand Skies. Rhoda Belleza’s debut novel features space opera action, a badass female main character, and a Lunar Chronicles-esque vibe. Check out our interview to learn about Rhoda’s writing process and what we can expect from the sequel to Empress of a Thousand Skies. And make sure you scroll to the end for your chance to win a copy of your own!

Where did the idea for Empress of a Thousand Skies come from?

It started with Rhee. I’d imagined a girl constantly underestimated, but sly and smart and resilient. The first scene I’d imagined is placed fairly early on in the book, where she survives an explosion and zooms off into space. Everything branched off from there. Her quest for justice, her obsession with revenge, the distain she felt for the larger world that doubted her—they fell into place when I’d imagined the look on her face as she fled.

Do you consider yourself a pantser, plotter, or something in between? What was your process while writing Empress of a Thousand Skies?

Definitely somewhere in between. I wrote the first few chapters of this book with only the slightest idea of the character arcs, then paused to outline the remainder of the book in detail. Then as I began to write, I’d diverge from the outline and change the story as I went. The scaffolding was invaluable for me, but at a certain point my characters pulled me in different directions, and I had to honor what felt most organic for the book.

I absolutely loved Rhee’s character. She’s such a badass! What did you enjoy most about telling her story?

I loved writing her defiance. She’s formed her identity both because of, and in spite of, the rigid expectations people have a young women. They’re thought of as incapable, overly emotional, and their thoughts and desires are written off and derided as “girly” (like that’s a bad thing).

I wanted Rhee to represent that struggle—I wanted to capture the joy and complexity and torment of being a girl, being put in a box, breaking out of it, everything.

I really enjoyed how action-packed this book is, but I imagine it’s difficult to keep up that kind of pace for an entire novel. What did you find most challenging while writing?

The hardest part was tightening the plot. It was looking for ways to ratchet up the tension and still stay true to the characters—what they want, how they would pursue it, etc. I wanted this to feel urgent and propulsive, but balancing the emotional beats to get the rhythm just right was my biggest challenge.

If you could spend a day with a character from Empress of a Thousand Skies, who would it be and why?

The Fisherman. He’s so gruff and sarcastic, but obviously a big softy inside. I love characters who claim no loyalties—but form deep ones all the same. Plus, he basically swims around in outer space carrying a harpoon gun, which is my dream life.

The ending of Empress leaves us with some pretty enticing information. Can you give us a hint about what readers can expect in the sequel?

There will be some very unlikely alliances! My favorite pairs get separated and rearranged…perhaps you might even see Aly and Dahlen team up!

About the book: 

Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.

Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he’s forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life.

With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.

A saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy.

About the author:

Rhoda Belleza was raised in Los Angeles, where she grew up writing X-Files fanfiction and stuffing her face with avocados. She’s a children’s editor at a publishing house and writes from a sunny Brooklyn apartment stuffed with far too many bikes and far too many shoes. When she’s not writing, Rhoda obsesses over nail art tutorials, watches kung fu movies, and sews together crooked things that pass for clothes. Empress of a Thousand Skies is her debut novel. Follow her on Twitter @rhodabee.


Enter for a chance to win one (1) of three (3) signed copies of Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza (ARV: $17.99 each).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on February 6, 2017 and 12:00 AM on February 20, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about February 22, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Want to check out the rest of the blog tour?

Lauren is a 20-year-old student living in Northern Virginia. She loves to read YA books and watch movies. Lauren is passionate about many things, but reading has always been a huge part of her life. Ever since she first learned to read, her parents have always had to pry books out of her hands when it’s time for other commitments. Lauren loves everything from The Hunger Games and Divergent, to Percy Jackson, mysteries like State of the Onion, and other YA books, like The Fault in Our Stars, and is always eager to try a new book, author, or series. She also loves music, public health, Harry Potter, and the Washington Capitals. Follow her on Twitter: @LWengrovitz.
  • Autumn

    I love author interviews! I also love that she did X-files fan fiction! This will def be added to my tbr

  • Lily

    I can’t wait for this book! More YA Sci-fi!