Press release: Indiana author T. Newyear releases, Starfall, a novel series

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Future Heartland: Indiana Author Releases Starfall, a Novel Series

Exploring the History and Future of a Midwestern Utopia

Starfall weaves together the pleasures and romance of historical fiction, unfolding in the same era as Bridgerton but among a very different milieu, while reveling in double-edged future tech dreams that pay tribute to the sci-fi of Ursula LeGuin and Vernor Vinge. These often disparate genres use different conventions to achieve the same goal: questioning where we are now, how we relate to each other, and what our lives mean.

Like many before her, author T. Newyear stumbled into New Harmony, Indiana more than a decade ago and couldn’t believe her eyes. The small, secluded Indiana town had a sizable collection of 17th-century Italian paintings hanging in its town library. It had a labyrinth of trimmed bushes at the edge of town. It had quite a pedigree, including getting namechecked by Lord Byron and Mary Shelley.

But these surprises proved just the beginning of the unexpected history of one of America’s first intentional communities. “There were so many extraordinary people who were so influential in shaping early American culture and science and who lived or worked in New Harmony,” Newyear reflects. “And I had never heard of many of them.”

Yet something united all the past residents: They believed wholeheartedly they could contribute to creating a vastly better society and world. “That spirit of intensely felt optimism and engagement, that insistence on active social transformation through knowledge and art, hit me hard. It felt so alien to me, as a contemporary American,” Newyear says. “I wanted to explore that spirit, to try to grasp it, where it came from and how they sustained it. So I started to read, and then much later, to write.”

These explorations over a decade resulted in Starfall (starfallbook.info), a sweeping tale set in both the 1820s heyday of New Harmony’s utopian experiment and in the not-too-distant future post-climate change. In both narrative threads, a woman lands in the town and attempts to unravel a mystery: there are strange pools that form in the woods when the stars fall.

Starfall Events

“Framing historical and futurist considerations of utopia in a fantastic way felt like the best approach to getting at what makes New Harmony compelling,” Newyear notes. “This isn’t the first novel about New Harmony–it has more fiction and speculation about it than any other small Midwestern town–but it’s the first novel to consider what its future might be, as we confront our impact on climate and the environment.”

New Harmony’s origins may sound eerie familiar: A charismatic, wealthy entrepreneur decides to expand his already successful social experiments in the New World, buying an entire town wholesale and attracting scientists, educational innovators, and artists to what was then the American frontier. It’s a strong reminder that America’s progressive, visionary roots run just as deep as other narratives. “The history of places like New Harmony remind us that America has always been complicated and fraught with conflict and calls for justice and change,” Newyear states, “and that progressives did just as much to forge who we are now as the standard pantheon of more conservative heroes.”

The climate and tech challenges we face right now also resonate with the social and economic strife the Harmonists faced in the 1820s. “Much like our present moment, they had to confront the incredible upheaval of the Industrial Revolution and the turmoil of the French Revolution,” explains Newyear. “Technology upended their reality, in both promising and distressing ways, much as it has ours.”

Like the people who made New Harmony unique, readers are invited to use imagination to overcome the mix of fear and blank hope the planet-wide struggle to address climate change induces–and to see a more balanced, satisfying future together, despite our deep-seated differences. “Robert Owen, one of the driving forces in Harmony’s early history, had a motto that feels really timely for Americans right now,” says Newyear. “‘If we cannot reconcile all opinions, let us strive to unite all hearts.’ It’s not as naive as it sounds, and more imagination, more wrestling with these hard topics, may help us get there.”

About T. Newyear

For T. Newyear, the past and the future are two pages in the same book. Combining extensive research and emotional clarity, she writes historical fantasies and scientific romances (as H.G. Wells put it) that explore our complex human and technological relationships, our connections to what’s greater than us, and our understanding of the past. By playing with historical movements and events, tech and its impact, and good ol’ human foibles, she crafts long-form stories that envelope readers in another world or era–and helps them feel through our current dilemmas.

A native of the Midwestern US, Newyear grew up in small towns and fading cities, inspired by nature and culture, tradition and radicalism in equal measure. She lived extensively in Russia, traveled alone across Siberia and Mongolia, and learned how the other side of the world related to her home turf. With a doctorate in history and area studies, she has a profound interest in exploring the details and lived experiences of the past, and imagining how those lost moments speak to our collective future.

For more info and to sign up for her newsletter, go to newyearmedia.com

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