A Q&A with Starcrossed author Josie Angelini

Our book-of-the-month for March is Josephine Angelini’s forthcoming Starcrossed:

“Helen Hamiliton has always tried to hide how different she is—no easy feat on an island as small as Nantucket, and only getting harder as she finds herself haunted by hallucinations and vivid nightmares.

It’s not until she crosses paths with Lucas Delos at school that Helen’s true heritage is finally revealed. Yet even as Lucas helps her awaken to her startling powers, they can never be together—not unless they can break free from the tragic destiny the Three Fates have in store.”

Sounds dark and steamy, right? Check out our interview with Josie and stay tuned later in the week for our review of Starcrossed and a chance to win an ARC of the book from us!

We are total nuts for Greek mythology so we were immediately excited about the whole idea behind this book. What was your original inspiration for focusing on these figures from the Greek myths and Trojan War?

A nervous break down?  No, seriously, it was a very fortuitous accident.  I was pitching a different idea for a supernatural YA series to my husband, who is a screenwriter.  For the life of me I couldn’t spit out a logline or sum up that other series in two or three concise sentences.  He told me to start with a simpler idea for my first book.

I bawled like a two-year-old throwing a fit in the grocery store.  Then I saw a copy of Romeo and Juliet sitting next to The Iliad on my bookshelf, and it hit me.

What if I took Homer’s amazing characters and set it up so that if two teenagers fell in love they would start a war?  Then I took the opening line of Romeo and Juliet, which begins:  “Two Households…”

I went from there.

The Nantucket setting is so evocative.  (We want to vacation there now…) What made you choose it?

I grew up in Massachusetts in a very small town.  I wanted to write from a setting that I understood, and for plot reasons, I needed to isolate Helen, my protagonist, and hide her away from the world– almost like I was walling her up in a city by the sea.  Nantucket is a beautiful place, very stark and close to the elements, and it is surprisingly small.  It had everything I needed to tell my story.  And of course there are those “research” trips.  So important to a writer!

Is Lucas based on anyone specific? (And is he single? Just kidding! Kind of…)

Ha!! Lucas is based on my husband, actually.  They aren’t exactly alike, but the relationship Lucas and Helen have is very similar to the one I have with my husband.  The laughter, the “being in it together,” that sort of thing—not the wanting to kill each other part!  Or the cursed by the Fates part!  Luckily, my husband and I have never experienced the Furies.  (Although I do drive him bananas when I forget to lock the front door…)

We love how the mortal characters are just as well developed as the not-so-mortal ones. Do you have any tips for making funny, believable, heartwarming characters come to life?

The only tips I have for character development are very long, very detailed character bios.  I write one for every single character—minor or major.  I’ve found that for me, there are no short cuts when it comes to building character.  It takes a lot of time and a lot of thought.  I was a bartender for a lot of years, so I’ve met just about every kind of bug in the zoo, you know?  But even still, I have to put in a lot of thought and work before I start to write, or my characters get vague.   Vague is bad.  I try to avoid vague.

We noticed in your bio that you have a theater background. As an actress? Do you still act? Do you think this experience informs who you are as a writer?

This questions ties in very closely with the one above.  My training helped me build character, to the point where it is second nature for me to sit down and write out bios.  In fact, I love it.  It’s fun for me to try to figure a character out.

I also spend a lot of time saying my dialogue out loud, just to “audition” it and make sure it sounds like something a real person would say.  If I can’t say it without my baloney detector going off, I know that I have to rewrite it.  Unfortunately, this means I have deep, emotional conversations with my computer screen.  Luckily, my husband is also a writer.  He knows I’m crazy, but it’s not because I talk to myself.

If you could have a superhuman ability what would it be?

Flying!  I mean, what’s not to love about that?


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