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  • Writer's pictureTimothy Davis

Daggers and Derelicts!

Two CU students explore Fantasy and Science Fiction in unique and fascinating ways

Katherine Wiles, left, and Kiana Ledo

(Adapted from the preface to The Maiden Voyage of the Starborn)

Katherine Wiles' grandmother -- the author of Starborn -- died in February 2018, of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. She was 74.

Some months later, her husband Tom found six three-ring binders on an upstairs bookshelf. Those notebooks contained, in Ann’s handwriting, the original manuscript that would become The Maiden Voyage of the Starborn. The family’s best guess is that Ann had written the story gradually, over the course of the 1980s. But in addition to the story, the notebooks contained technical schematics, calculations of ship sizes and oxygen levels, and pages and pages of research and backstory Ann had written to make sure that the Starborn story would come out right. While Starborn was (as far the family knows) Ann’s maiden voyage into novel writing, creating stories was not new for her. During her college days at Lipscomb University in Nashville and during and after her time as a graduate student in biology at Vanderbilt, Ann enjoyed spending some of her spare time entering science fiction story contests.

In June of 2020, with some parental encouragement, Katie Wiles spent a week at Tom’s house typing. And typing. And typing. What started out as a one-week project the summer before college turned into over a year of writing, editing, rewriting, editing some more, and ultimately the finished product. The novel is Ann’s handiwork, but it is covered by the fingerprints of Katie’s maiden voyage into editing. Yet even with Katie’s dedication to the project and hard work, it would take more family members and others to make Starborn a reality. By August of 2021, the manuscript was, for the most part, ready for further editing. Tom and Ann’s son, David Whitworth, has worked in publishing in many capacities for close to 25 years, and it was his professional eye and steady editorial hand that helped keep Katie steered straight on this voyage. In addition to line-by-line editing, David also designed the cover.

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