How we transformed our gaming legacy into a book series

Bringing the Soul Riders to life in literary form has been a journey long in the making. The story of the Soul Riders began 15 years ago with the Starshine Legacy CD-ROM games and lives on in Star Stable Online. Adapting that story into novels was almost like breaking new ground.

Story has always been central to the Star Stable IP. The Starshine Legacy games, which first introduced the Soul Riders and magical Jorvik to the world, stood out from other horse games by blending equestrian gameplay with a rich narrative world filled with mystery, friendship, and magic, with a dark tone that was unlike any other game on the market. 

When Star Stable evolved into the online game that thrives today, story-rich quests remained a key part of the game’s appeal.

“We wanted to provide an origin story worthy of our beloved heroes”

Jake Forbes, Narrative Director

“Our players are immensely curious about the lore of Jorvik and the Soul Riders,” says Jake Forbes, Narrative Director at Star Stable. “We wanted to provide an origin story worthy of our beloved heroes in a format that would make Alex, Linda, Lisa, and Anne relatable and relevant to both new players and those who have been following the girls’ adventures from the start. We needed to bring them to novels.”

Finding the “write” voice

In 2016, Marcus Thorell Björkäng, co-creator of the Soul Riders, reached out to Swedish writer and translator Helena Dahlgren and popped the question – would you like to take on the challenge of writing a trilogy about the Soul Riders? Luckily, she accepted.

Helena Dahlgren’s profile was a great fit for the book – her equestrian background combined with a love of YA books and fantasy storytelling is just the special combo of horses and magic that makes Star Stable Online stand out from other horse games. 

Early Concept sketches of Soul Rider Linda Chanda, by Concept Artist Matilda Geijer at Star Stable.

Helena would draw inspiration for the Soul Rider trilogy from her childhood. Specifically, from all those hours and hours she spent in the stable, obsessing over horses. This background would prove key for depicting that special bond between a rider and her horse.

Character first 

The book plans triggered a deep exploration of the Soul Riders, inside and out. Who are they? What do they love or hate? What are their insecurities, passions, dreams? What would they eat, how would they dress to ride their special Soul Horse? Suddenly the team had to look at the Star Stable story through a whole new lens. 

“We started the conversation looking to empower Helena to make the Soul Riders come alive on the page,” says Jake. “This discussion highlighted how much room we had to grow with how we depict the Soul Riders in-game. It became a virtuous circle that transformed how we tell stories as a company.”

“It was crucial that we make them more than shallow tropes”

Ullis Linder, Art Director

The Soul Riders workshops brought together artists, writers, and designers to revisit everything about our star characters. Over the following months, the Soul Riders would transform from NPCs in a video game into fully fleshed out heroes.  

Visually, the original character designs were showing their age. “It was crucial that we make them more than shallow tropes,” says Ullis Linder, Art Director. “They needed to be like us, with bodies that we relate to and both good and bad sides to their personalities. We say ‘every girl can be a hero,’ so it should be possible for every girl to see herself in one of these characters.”

This collaborative re-evaluation of Star Stable’s flagship heroes ensured that the novels and the games would feel part of the same universe, as well as providing a foundation for new collaborations in music, animation, and comics.

The first book of the Soul Riders trilogy is coming soon in English! Release dates and more…

NPC: Non Playable Character, basically all characters in a game that you can interact with, but that are part of the game’s storytelling.

IP: Intellectual Property. The lore, stories, and characters that make up a fictive world and can be told in different media formats.

CD-ROM Games: Before tablets, phones, and online games… there were CD-Rom Games! To play these you needed a disc and a computer to insert the disc into.