X was difficult to come up with. After all, how many words start with X? Since there aren’t any xylophones or x-rays in Across the Stars, I had to settle for something that began with the sound “X”: Executions. Yes, there are executions in Across the Stars, yet none of them were deserved.
This really goes back to “Unjust.” A good many of King Jorrid’s unjust actions consisted of executing Emarotians under false charges. It is Anthony’s part of the story that deals with this subject. “So many Emarotians had been executed on false charges, some on no charges at all, most without a trial and none with a trial by jury. Sometimes children were put to death. All of Emarot lived in terror, but many, Anthony included, were angry as well. Who would not be, as one’s countrymen were executed one after the other?” Don’t worry, there’s nothing graphic about these executions, nothing beyond hearing a gunshot. But they happen. And they are very important. It is these executions that stir up the Emarotians to revolution. Who wouldn’t want to fight against someone who executed innocents?
I had a hard time thinking of cruel things for King Jorrid to do. I just have a hard time thinking of mean things for characters to do, even for my bad guys. So these executions, high taxes, and the closing of Emoria’s port are really the extent of the cruelties described in the story. This isn’t all King Jorrid does, but it is all I could think of to enumerate in the story. Even if this was all King Jorrid did, they would still have good reason for revolt.
At last I come to the Watsons! It’s really too bad their last name comes so close to the end of the alphabet, because it would have been appropriate to start with them. They are the characters Across the Stars begins with, and truly, without them there would be no Across the Stars. There are eight children in the Watson family, but only the five oldest are actually featured in the book.
Sara: Sara is the oldest of the Watson children, and she is thirteen years old at the time of Across the Stars. Originally, she was my only main character. I began Across the Stars at a time when I was uncomfortable using a boy as the protagonist, and this is why I chose Sara. Sara is sweet and pretty, and while she does make mistakes, they are few. She hates being the oldest, but does a good job of it, though sometimes she is overly bossy with Jack. She is very brave, and has a lot of Bible verses committed to memory. She is very close to her brother Charles, and protective of the younger children. She also becomes good friends with Felix Walker. Their goodbye, just before the Watsons go home, is one of my personal favorite parts of the story, and leaves the door open for a sequel.
Charles: Charles is eleven years old, has the entire Gettysburg Address memorized, and carries the Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution around in his back pocket. What more could you want? I love American history and the foundations of America, and this really shows through in Charles. He is brave, and he’s a fighter. He doesn’t want to go to war if it can be avoided, but when it is necessary, he is more than willing to fight for what is right. There is a point in the story when Charles’s life is in grave danger, but you’ll have to read Across the Stars to find out what happens and whether or not he pulls through.
Jack: Oh, Jack. Jack is nine years old, rather rude and defiant at times, immature, and quite entertaining. He is a trial to Sara, especially when he makes fun of Felix’s eloquence. But I like Jack. He is definitely the comic relief. I guess he’s probably a typical nine-year old boy, with a strong desire for adventure, a dislike for obeying bossy big sisters, and a penchant for mischief. He does gain some sense of responsibility throughout the adventure, but still remains the family clown.
Hetty: Hetty is rather quiet, and doesn’t intrude much into the story, but she is rather instrumental in the Second Battle of Theotocop. She helps the army get in, and her actions also help to save Sara’s life. She is unobtrusive, but she is there all the time.
Lu: When I first started making up Across the Stars, I debated whether or not to let Lu come along. She is only five, being two years younger than Hetty, and being so young I wondered at the wisdom of allowing her on such an adventure. I sure am glad I did. She has such a vivid personality, always has a comment or an indignant reply to add, and, well, Sara needed a baby sister along. She is very smart, being the sort who is hard to keep out of the older children’s school books. My youngest sister is this way and has been for as long as I can remember. Lu has a rather traumatic experience during the Second Battle of Theotocop, but being who she is, I’m sure she was able to overcome it.
Just for the sake of extra information, the other Watson children are named Jem, Laylie, and Katie. Katie has not been born yet at the time of Across the Stars, but she soon will be. If I do get around to writing the sequel about the Watsons and Felix, she will be quite the entertaining little sister.
The characters in Across the Stars quote Scripture a lot. Sara Watson quotes Psalm 23 when she is scared, Charles quotes Ecclesiastes 3 before they go into battle, Felix quotes from Ephesians 6 to his father (about the duties of a father), but the real theme verse of Across the Stars is Psalm 37:5: “Commit thy way unto the Lord, and trust in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”
When I was writing Across the Stars, the two reference works I used the most were the dictionary and Cruden’s Concordance. When Felix, Charles, and Sara were planning their first battle, I decided they needed a “trust in the Lord” verse to quote. So I looked through the concordance for all the verses containing the word trust. Now, I had read Psalms before, many times, but this verse had never really stuck out to me. “Commit thy way unto the Lord, and trust in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” I loved this verse and thought it fit perfectly. My characters did commit their way unto the Lord, and, well, the story would not be the same if they hadn’t.
This verse really is true, and I’m not just saying that because it’s in the Bible. In my personal experience it is true. When I was little, some people came and played the violin at our church. From that day forward, I wanted more than anything to learn to play the violin. I constantly prayed that God would give me an opportunity, I begged my parents for lessons, and every time there seemed to be an opportunity, it was deemed too expensive. Well, finally, I just gave it over to God. I asked Him that if it was His will He would provide me with an opportunity to learn to play the violin and if it was not His will to help me be content with not learning. It was after that a friend offered to teach me to play. That was about a year and a half ago. Now, I wouldn’t change how it happened for anything. Not only did it give me an opportunity to spend time with a friend I hadn’t even known a few years earlier and enabled me to learn faster than I would have if I had started when I was younger, it taught me a valuable lesson. God’s way is the best way, His timing is better than mine, and if I submit to Him things turn out better than they would have if I had had things my way. I’m not saying that if you commit your way unto God you will always get what you want, if that was true, I would have a baby brother by now, but that if you commit your way unto God, if you submit yourself to His will, things will turn out better than they would if you insisted on your own way. After all, God knows what’s best for us.
“He has refused his assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
“He has endeavored to prevent the population of this planet; for that purpose obstructing the migration of persons to and from Emoria, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
“He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
“He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
“He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
“For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of this planet:
“For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
“For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:”
The above are many of the unjust actions taken by King Jorrid of Emoria, as written in the Emarotian Declaration of Independence, which was closely based on that of America. Three of these actions in particular are dealt with in Anthony Williamson’s part of the book: taxation, obstruction of migration, and deprivation of trial by jury.
I won’t give specifics, because I don’t want to tell Anthony’s story here, but these, particularly the trials, affected the people of Emarot very much in a negative manner. And as King Jorrid was the instigator, the conclusion can be drawn that he was an unjust ruler.
Much of the condition of Emarot is drawn from the condition of the American colonies at the time of the American Revolution. And many of the actions of King Jorrid are drawn from those of King George the third. The American and Emarotian Declarations of Independence include lists of the injustices practiced by their kings. These injustices are called the grievances.
The American Declaration of Independence has 27 grievances, however, there were 28 grievances proposed. This 28th grievance actually denounced the slave trade as a vile institution, and criticized King George for opposing every act in which they had tried to abolish it. In many places in the colonies it was actually illegal to free slaves. Unfortunately, Georgia and South Carolina refused to vote for independence if this anti-slavery grievance remained and so it was omitted. But it shows that our Founders were opposed to slavery and that they considered it to be an injustice to our fellow man.
Thomas Williamson is JudyAnne’s husband and Liza and Anthony’s father. He is a farmer, and generally respected by the people of Emarot. Unlike his son, he is not rash; he is willing to wait for the right time to act rather than acting on impulse and getting himself into trouble.
Thomas is a secondary character, but important, as all the twenty-some named characters are. He helps to hold back the Emarotians from rash actions in many instances, though he does not always succeed. When the men are desperate to move, but cannot agree on what to do, it is Thomas who points out to the men that if they are not united on their purpose, they cannot hope to succeed. Though Thomas is not the bravest, most chivalrous character in the story, he is a good man, and one JudyAnne, Anthony, and Liza could not do without.
“You know perfectly well who Sam is.”
Prince Jorrid gave no indication he had heard. Hanna rolled her eyes and gave an exasperated sigh.
“Sam Hawling. The stable boy.”
Sam Hawling was a stable boy during the reign of King Horrid, the most inferior of the stable boys, “in general a good lad,” and as Hanna said, “awful chivalrous for a stable boy.” Sam’s history, like Hanna’s, is not revealed in Across the Stars, but he appears to be an orphan. He was a friend of Hanna’s, but whether or not Hanna is truly his friend is sometimes difficult to gauge.
Sam came to me shortly after Hanna did. I’m not sure what sparked his character, but honestly, Hanna needed him. She needed someone who wasn’t rash, who knew how to read, who could warn her about what she was getting herself into, and who would be willing to sacrifice himself to protect her. Sam was all these things, but unfortunately, Hanna didn’t appreciate it. I really feel kind of sorry for Sam. He’s such a wonderful young man, and Hanna is constantly rude to him. Their story was fun to write. It creates conflict when a young man is determined to protect a girl and she won’t have any of it. This is really the essence of Hanna and Sam’s story. And I really like them. Honestly, the more I think about Hanna and Sam, the more I want to continue their story.
To those who have read Across the Stars, if I was to write a sequel about Hanna and Sam, what would you like to see happen in it?
Yes, a rabbit. The rabbit made its entrance into the story this way:
“A rabbit hopped nonchalantly across the clearing as if it was not strange at all for a spaceship to be there…. As Sara and Charles disappeared into the woods, the rabbit hopped up to the ramp. It sat erect for a moment, glancing this way and that. Then the rabbit darted up the ramp.”
Originally, the rabbit was just a rabbit, hopping through the clearing, when Sara and Charles were in the spaceship. My sisters thought it was strange for the rabbit to think nothing of the spaceship, so I started to wonder if there was more to the rabbit than I had at first thought. I decided that I would look out for a purpose for this rabbit, and if it didn’t have one, I would take it out. Well, the rabbit is still there. He has a purpose, though you have to look out for a specific paragraph to find out what it is. This paragraph is at the very end of chapter eleven. I did try to bring the rabbit into the end of the story, but it was awkward and disrupted the whole ending. Nevertheless, the rabbit is important, and, well, who doesn’t like a rabbit in a story?
“When in the course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness….And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
It wasn’t planned this way, but the post on the American history quotes used in Across the Stars has fallen at a most appropriate time. Independence is a major theme in Across the Stars, things about American independence frequently quoted, and for independence week it is a perfect subject.
In chapter five, Sara Watson gives a speech rallying the Emarotians to fight for independence. This speech begins with Sara quoting a famous line from Patrick Henry, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.” Sara also quotes the Declaration of Independence, including the line, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” America’s founding fathers really did give up their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. By voting to declare independence, they were declaring themselves to be traitors. The punishment for treason was to be hung by the neck until unconscious, revived, disemboweled, quartered, and scattered so that they would have no final resting place. This is what America’s founding fathers were facing. This is what would happen to them if they were caught.
My fictional Emarotians were willing to face torture and death in order to gain independence from tyranny. They were inspired by the things the Watsons quoted from American history. It is time for Americans to be inspired by these things, to be willing once more to give their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, so that we may be free.
The People’s Treasury of Arms is just that, a treasury of arms belonging to the people. It is a massive, manmade, underground cavern approximately in the center of the territory of Emarot. It was commissioned by a king who wanted the people to have a means of defending themselves against tyrannical government, and after that king was dead, was kept a secret from Theotocop. All the homes in Emarot are connected to the Treasury by tunnels which have their entrance in the cellars of the homes. The history of the People’s Treasury of Arms is expounded in more detail in the appendix to Across the Stars.
Like most of Across the Stars, I don’t know exactly where the idea for the Treasury came from. It is one of the things which was a part of the story practically from the idea stage, and so is an integral part of the story. The People’s Treasury of Arms is first mentioned in chapter three by JudyAnne Williamson, and is the title of chapter five (originally chapter four). It not only is the source of all the weapons and armor used by the Emarotians, but it is the headquarters of the Emarotian army. It was the meeting place for the resistance ever since King Jorrid took over, and where the Watsons first took their role as leaders. And it is where they met Felix Walker.
The People’s Treasury of Arms is a rather fascinating place with great importance, and, if Emoria was real, a place I would definitely want to visit.
Very little of Across the Stars takes place in outer space, yet it could be considered the most important of all the settings. It is through outer space that the Watsons come to Emoria. It is the transition from Earth to Emoria, from the Milky Way to Stappenhance, from ordinary life to adventure.
I have long been fascinated by space. I greatly enjoyed the Apologia elementary astronomy textbook I used when I was younger. I read the space chapters of my physical science textbook numerous times before I was even supposed to get to it. There is so much scope for imagination in space. There is so much you can do with it in a story. Which is why I love my galaxy of Stappenhance.
Across the Stars is not the first story involving outer space that I have ever come up with. When I was about eight or nine, I wrote two stories about aliens from different planets in our solar system coming to a town called Margville. I also have an idea for a series, which I still hope to write, that takes place in Stappenhance. It is about an orphaned brother and sister who travel the galaxy with a group of missionaries. Their home planet of Manay is actually mentioned in Across the Stars by Hanna Straite. Any sequel involving Hanna would most likely have at least one journey through space.
Outer space is a fascinating subject, and one I love to weave into stories.
I've moved my blog over to Blogger. You can find all the same content you can here plus much more at www.morganhuneke.blogspot.com
I am a 19 year old home-school graduate and a Christian children's book author. I'm involved in politics, and I play the violin. I make a lot of my own clothes and I love taking care of children. I generally blog about my books, but I also have an indefinitely running series on my favorite fictional characters. My friends' very awesome books seem to pop up around here quite often. I rarely post reviews here anymore, but my sisters and I regularly review books and movies at ShireReviews.blogspot.com I hope you enjoy your time here on my blog!