A thief. A killer. Two separate stories. One doomed island.
Release Date: September 18, 2015
Seventeen-year-old Harper, incurable kleptomaniac, never expected to end up on a place like Penance. Yet, here she is, imprisoned on the secluded island full of delinquent teenagers. At first glance, the place is everything they want: freedom. No laws, no authorities, just pure, unadulterated liberty.
With that freedom, however, comes danger. At the center of the chaos and brutality that rocks the island is Clint, a seasoned murderer working under the elusive, self-proclaimed Queen of Penance, Esme. Cold and brutal, Clint’s reputation has managed to keep the islanders in line — until now.
As Harper unwillingly becomes entrapped in the island’s politics, and a tragedy leaves Clint hunting for revenge, Penance’s unstable order begins to crumble. As their fates draw closer, both Harper and Clint must survive against bloodthirsty criminals, unnatural weather, and their own inner demons before their blood too is spilled in the sand.
WELCOME TO PENANCE ISLAND
THE PLACE WHERE YOU DIE.
Welcome Isabella & Mitchell
Isabella Rogge began writing when she was eight years old, beginning with poetry and progressing to short stories and novels in her early teen years. She wrote and self-published her first novel, Sanguine Moon, in 2013. The summer of 2014 was spent crafting her novella and second published piece, Exhaled. Read more about Isabella and her work at
Mitchell Thomas Kazanjian is 19 years old. Fire in the Stars is his third novel. He has been writing and publishing books since he was 14. He loves football and soccer, and graduated from Cairo Durham High School, in Greene County New York. He is currently an Airborne Infantryman in the United States Army, stationed over in Italy.
Q & A
I: Dystopian has certain qualities and themes that I often explore in my writing — traits of humanity, basically. Dystopian is basically more realistic, futuristic fantasy, another one of my favorite genres, with a strong focus on the individual.
M: It's so much fun to write. I'd say it's even better than reading. You basically get to create your own world! How awesome is that?
2. Tell us a little bit about your main characters, Harper and Clint...
I: Harper is a grumpy kleptomaniac who’d rather be left alone. Her primary internal struggle on Penance is in regards to her morality—surviving on Penance calls for a lot more than base thievery; for Harper, it becomes a battle between keeping her morality, her sanity, and preserving her own life.
M: Clint is more or less a nice guy, who happens to have to kill a lot of people… I like him. He's a very emotionally disturbed person, I'll leave it at that!
3. Penance Island—are there any real places that were the inspiration for this setting?
I: Mitchell is the one who came up with the setting. I imagine Penance as a large island, mostly forest, somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.
M: Not really, to be honest! When I originally thought of the island, I had just envisioned a little island like the one in Theodore Taylor's The Cay, but my imagination went wild, then Isabella came and brought her own perspective and boom. Penance was created.
4. Did you have a message in mind for your readers while writing Fire in the Stars?
I: Fire in the Stars exposes the horrible, brutal side of human beings, for sure. But, taking a semi-positive spin on it. I think a large part of the story speaks about the endurance and strength people possess.
M: Life isn't sunshine and fairytales. There are bad people in this world, like there are good. Humans have evil inside; it just takes a few key environmental factors for our demons to take control.
5. Your journey as a writer—how did it begin, where has it taken you?
I: I’ve been writing for as long as I could form sentences. As someone who’s horribly shy, writing gave me a way to express myself—the solitude of writing enables you to slow down and consider what you have to say, which is what I love. Writing has taken me to so many different heights and made me so much more confident in who I am. Basically, it’s given me a way to speak.
M: My journey as a writer began when I was 14 years old and someone told me that I'd have to wait until I went to college to accomplish something in my life. So I wrote my first book and worked to make it published with the sole purpose of showing teenagers everywhere that you don't have to be an adult or go to college to accomplish something and be successful. It doesn't matter who you are, where you come from, if you want something, go get it.
6. What inspired you to coauthor?
I: Honestly, it was something of a whim. Mitchell posted a wanted ad for a coauthor on a writing forum. I almost didn’t respond, but I decided, “hey, what the heck.” I’m rather glad I did, because not only did I get to work on an awesome project, but I got to meet this dork.
M: Back when I first thought of the island, I knew that I'd need a strong female character written by a strong female. Isabella created one and is one of the strongest girls I know and I'm beyond lucky to have her as a coauthor and best friend.
7. Did your process happen naturally or did you have to work on a method for coauthoring?
I: Much different than I expected. I think that’s because Mitchell and I work well together—both being pretty “go with the flow” writers, we’re open to each other's ideas. The thing is, our ideas always seem to be pretty similar, even when we haven’t discussed it. He’ll send me a chapter and I’ll be like, “hey, this is weird, but I was thinking the exact same thing.”
M: I'd say it was completely natural. Isabella and I have this weird thing where we literally know what the other is thinking when we write (it kinda scares us sometimes)! When we write, I don't really even have to plan too much with her, like she doesn't with me. Whatever we leave each other is exactly what we wanted and we work with it!
8. Mitchell is an airborne ranger. How has it been with him deployed…regarding logistics and timeline for release? Same goes for Isabella with high school. Did you run into any major roadblocks/how did you overcome them?
I: It’s been tricky. There are months when Mitchell can’t write, and high school is pretty demanding itself. Still, we work our way around it—you know, by writing a ridiculous amount of words in a very short time period. I actually think the roadblocks we’ve met have made both of us more strong, flexible writers. With Mitchell away for months at a time, I’ve had to step up my game and take care of editing and marketing, two things I wasn’t especially experienced with (or fond of). It’s made me step out of my comfort zone.
M: I feel like most setbacks came on my end with being deployed and going on rotations where I am unable to write for months at a time, as to where Isabella in high school only has a few days where she can't write. When we both are free, we kick it into MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE and start writing chapters left and right. When I'm gone, she really picks up the slack and never stops working. If it’s with marketing, editing (I hate editing and I know she does too, so I usually make out pretty well with not having to do it)! Or just setting things up, she really takes control and I have nothing but confidence and trust in her whenever I can't write or contribute for a period of time.
9. After writing your first novels, Sanguine Moon and Stranded Houses, what did you do differently in writing Fire in the Stars?
I: Edit. Editing is so important. Also, that people are really, really supportive, which is so great. Because of that, I feel like I learned, with my first novels, to be more honest and fearless in my writing.
M: I've learned that you're going to face negativity. You're going to face people that give you a bad review, or twist your words up during an interview, but it's how you bounce back that defines you as a writer. If anything, I've learned to let all the comments, positive or negative, roll off me. I'm the only one that brings definition to myself and what I write, good or bad, I can't let anyone else's comments get to my head.
I've also learned to be a better editor and to plan out my writing a bit more! Thanks to my super amazing gingery coauthor friend.
10. Plotter or pantster? What’s your writing style?
I: Definitely a plotter. I am nearly obsessional about keeping journals for every project, filled with drafts of outlines and characters and all that good plotting stuff. Mostly, I like to see where I’m going. However, I’m not scared to deviate from the outline. It’ll go through tons of changes throughout the course of writing the book.
M: Definitely a panster. I like to let the characters write the book! Planning is more of Isabella’s thingy... She's too organized for me sometimes. She uses a lot of big words too.
11. Why indie publish?
I: I feel like self-publishing has a bad reputation of being what “lazy” authors do. Which is ridiculous. We do all of our own editing, marketing, etc (or fork over hundreds of dollars to have someone else do it—and you still have to approve everything). There’s a lot of responsibility you need to learn to be a successful indie author, but it’s totally worth it. You get to make every decision regarding your book. You’re in control, and free to do as you wish regarding your book.
M: When self-publishing you get to stay in direct contact with the reader as to where with a publishing company, you have all these rules, lose out on money and just bleh. If we can do everything a company can do, why not?
12. What social media outlets do you use the most to stay connected with readers?
I: While Mitchell works a lot with actual people, I do most of the social media marketing. I love making graphics and planning virtual book tours and the like. I’d say I’ve found Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr all wonderful outlets for marketing—not to mention the websites I’ve designed. Marketing should be a combo of being an excellent people person (see Mitchell aka Mr. Charismatic) and giving your readers a place to stay updated online.
13. Mentors who have inspired your writing. What are you reading now?
I: I’m currently reading a biography of Alexander Hamilton (Yes, yes I did put my summer reading off to the last minute). As far as mentors go, I’d have to point to my teachers. I’ve had the privilege of having excellent literature teachers who go to great lengths to help improve our writing by 1) making us read deep and analyze great works, 2) making us write and rewrite, 3) giving individual students attention and holding them up to their skill level.
M: At this very moment I am reading BZRK by Michael Grant (my all time favorite author ever). A mentor? I'd say him, too. I've spoken to him a few times and each time he never fails to leave me inspired.
14. Dream cast? Who would you cast if your book is made into a TV series or movie?
I: Harper played by a snarky, red-haired Kaya Scodelario. Nicholas Hoult and Alexandra Daddario as twins Gage and Hazel. Victoria Justice + glasses = Sofia.
M: If Taylor Lautner and Sirius Snape had a kid, then that's who I'd have play Clint. For Frank, I’d go to Hawaii and find the ten biggest men I could find, and have them yell as loud as they could. The deepest, loudest voice would win. Esme would be played by Isabelle Fuhrman. I absolutely love her and think she would fit the role perfectly.
15. Future projects? Will you stay in this genre or branch out?
I: We’re working on a couple more projects together. They could be considered dystopian, but more as subgroups. I’m still exploring different genres, but I don’t think I’ll ever settle on one genre. There are themes that stay constant in my books, but it’s changing up the setting and genre that make each one unique.
M: Personally, I plan on exploring this genre more with Isabella while also branching out to other genres on my own, some more fictional work on my end. While still keeping up with the ever-evolving world of dystopian.
I: Can I have both? Please? I suppose dogs. Unless kittens are involved.
M: Cats. I love cats, not just like a house cat, though. Like a cat that kills rodents and stuff. My one cat used to low crawl everywhere, so I called him Sniper, and I swear he listened like a dog. I could call him and still chill with him at my feet. And he'd bring me rabbits he killed and stuff! Badass cats are the best.
All-time favorite book, movie or TV character and why?
I: Verity/Julie from Code Name Verity. That book. That Scottish woman.
M: The Wolf of Wall Street is by far my favorite movie of all time. They didn't hold back and weren't worried about being politically correct, but instead telling a real story. And Leo is bae so.
Stuck in a book—you’re thrown into a book world, which book/author’s world would you choose?
I: Would it be cliche to say Harry Potter? I mean, come on. Magic? Magical creatures? Magical society? Wicked. And you’d probably be safe, as long as you didn’t associate with Harry Potter himself.
M: Everyone says Harry Potter, but I'd have to go with The Hunger Games, or the Gone series by Michael Grant. I'd be interested in seeing how long I'd last in that type of situation.
Now that I see Isabella said Harry Potter... Well... If I was in the world of Harry Potter, you can believe I'd play Quidditch with him and be best friends with him. And definitely date Ron's sister Ginny, (Bonnie Wright is absolutely amazing and I love her and the hair and smile and why can't she love me too)?