A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Josephine Angelini again at a signing for her newly released book and the second book in the Starcrossed series, Dreamless.
I'd been asking her for some time if she would do an interview for me for the blog, but she was so busy with the release of Dreamless in more than just the US (YAY!) that I waited. Well, here is that interview. It's a little short because we were pressed for time at the Barnes & Noble, but hopefully you enjoy it! Keep in mind that I recorded this, so I'm trying hard to translate word for word.
But first, a little more about the author!
Me: So my first question is if you could do anything differently with the series so far, what would it be?
Josie: Okay, this is going to sound really really stuck up but, apart from there being a few things where I wish I could tweak it like, oh I wish I had brought that reveal out a little sooner or a little bit later, I'm just so grateful that my books are getting published and that they're out there and the response as been so great. I wouldn't change a thing, 'cause even though I don't think that the books are perfect, none of them are --especially not the first one, since it was my first book there are a lot of problems with it-- I wouldn't take it back for a second. Because everything has sort of led up to me being able to just be a published author, and for me that's such an enormous gift. I would never want to give anything back about it. Even when there are times when I read Starcrossed and I'm like, oh boy, but I had to do that to learn to be a better writer. It's like every single quote on quote mistake or thing that, you know, isn't totally awesome, looking back on it, taught me. So I'm too grateful to want to take anything back.
Me: Gotcha. Okay, was it harder writing the second book or easier?
Josie: It was easier. But it was harder to rewrite it. Because the beginning of Dreamless has some recap from the first book, and I didn't know how to do that. I didn't know how to retell Starcrossed, but I was like no it's a different book, let it be a different book, and my agent and my editor were both like, Josie you have to give people some recap. They're going to come into this and (me: they're not remembering what happened). Yeah. [They said] I needed it and I've read it a thousand times. And I knew that they were right and I fought it, so it was hard for me to learn how to blend that in, 'cause it's a thing I had never even tried to do before. So, yeah, the rewrites for Dreamless were harder.
Me: Okay. What's your favorite character to write?
Josie: Hector. Hands down. Can I cuss a little bit? (me: yeah) What a wise ass, and I love it. I love his strength, I love his spirit, and I like living vicariously through somebody that doesn't care if he's a giant jerk, but at the same time, you know, it's not like he's heartless. It's just, it's very freeing to write male characters in general sometimes. (me: I totally know what you mean. Sometimes I feel like I just want to be a guy for a day) Totally! Like I wanna be that big huge guy that everybody's a little bit afraid of, you know what I mean and says what everybody's thinking. So for me, it's always Hector, and also he's got some great on-liners.
Me: He definitely does. Alright, did you you know when you started the series that you were going to have a love triangle.
Josie: Yeah, I had to. Because the way that it's set up--have you had a chance to read it yet? (me: oh yeah). Oh okay *laughs* the way it's set up, it's absolutely necessary for the plot. The whole idea of family is very strong in this and it leads even deeper in the plot. I know that the Delos Family is a huge family, but there's a reason for ever single one of those characters and all that is going to be revealed in Goddess. But I sort of start setting it up at the end of Dreamless, 'cause there's that whole bit where it's talking about love makes a family. And how they all are tied to each other. That goes another level deeper in Goddess, and you'll see what I mean by that. I wish I could totally spill my guts! Cause everyone's all like, oh she just has this big huge family and she's trying to copy Twilight and I was like no, the Iliad actually has all these characters, please just be patient and wait and you'll see. Even Claire, she's a Shakespearean character and so they're all somebody. You'll see it all come out. And Orion had to be him, because he's an heir to two houses and a possible tyrant and there was all this stuff for the plot that I needed and... yeah I'm going to shut my mouth right now.
Me: *laughs* What are you writing right now?
Josie: I'm actually working on a new trilogy. I'm calling it a faux dystopian, because it's about a parallel universe--I'm calling it Crucible--and it's, I'm not going to tell you too much about it, but it's about a girl from Salem, Massachusetts who gets summoned into a parallel Salem by herself. (me: wow, that's really cool) *laughs* So I'm totally into that right now and doing my traveling through worm wholes and that kind of stuff and string theory, so it's tons of fun.
Me: That's going to be awesome. How many books are planned in the series?
Josie: Three. Three for Starcrossed and three for Crucible. I think in three's, 'cause I sort of do like a beginning, middle, and an end in my head when I'm outlining. And then I know the feeling of a book and I can beat it out from there. And for me I think that for every character, especially for my Starcrossed series, there has to be that dark period. There has to be that cocoon before the butterfly can emerge. You start at one place and there's a dark part that you go into, and it's through that trial that you become what you're meant to be. I think that that is almost every woman's journey through the world, so me for me to able to write a character, honestly, I have to be able to do that in my storytelling. (me: talks about how I could not stretch my series out more than three books). Yeah, that's what works for me. I mean there are some people that write great standalones, you know, and like I don't know how they do that and mine would be like a thousand pages, like if Lord of the Rings was this giant tome. Maybe I watched too much Star Wars growing up but...
Me: I agree with you, I totally did too. Do you listen to music or do you need complete silence when you're writing?
Josie: I go back an forth. When I'm editing, I need silence because I need to hear the words. When I'm writing or trying to zero in on something, I'll listen to music. But I listen to really out there music. No, I do, I listen to old old jazz, like I'm a huge Billy Holiday fan. Or I listen to classical music or I listen to classical guitar. But I listen to stuff that's going to get you into a trance-like state. Now that I write from a trance, it's just to clear my mind for a bit. And once I start writing in the evening, I'll shut off the music because once I catch that thread, it doesn't matter if my husband's watching TV in the other room or whatever, I'm in it. For me, I use it as a tool to help me cut out the rest of the world.
Me: Right. Okay, what is your favorite book of this year so far?
Josie: This year so far... Man, I'm trying to think of the books I've been reading. God this is such a hard question for me. I'm thinking of Amy Plum's second book. I really liked Until I Die, I really liked Arise. But I always say that because they're my friends and it's hard because I read their books and I'm always like, gah that was awesome, but I don't know if it's awesome because I love them or... And then I sit there and think, no it was really was awesome, so I feel weird recommending those books but at the same time they're the books I want to recommend. So I've been digging that, and I just started Eve [by Anna Carey]. She is super smart and I love the whole idea of really trying to explore gender because I think that's what a lot of YA is about. It's aimed at teenage women, but teenage women aren't the ones that are writing it. It's women that are looking back on their teen years, and they're sort of saying, this is when I discovered who I was as a person, and a lot of these books are about self-discovery and about understanding your gender and about understanding yourself as a woman and I love that she wrote a book about that. I just started it and I've had like five minutes to read, so maybe that'll be my next favorite.
Me: I loved Eve! Okay, what are your favorite foods?
Josie: I'm a pasta girl. I really am. I'm Italian (me: I'm Italian too, so I got you). *laughs* Yeah I just sit down with my big bowl, like seriously, I'm like a cheesy person, like I'm one of those people that will just sit there and eat spaghetti and meatballs and be totally happy. (we talked about how both our dad's are Italian and our mom's are Irish, and how the Irish people can't cook).
Me: If Helen and Lucas or any of the other characters went to Hogwarts, what house would the hat sort them in?
Josie: Oh, they would all be Gryffindor. Seriously, 'cause much about who they are is bravery. I'd be Hufflepuff. I'd be the jackass out there tending the garden...
The audio cut off here on my phone for some reason, but basically she just finished up by saying how her characters would be in Gryffindor and how she lived on a farm so that's why she'd be with Hufflepuff, collecting all the herbs.
Thank you so much again for the interview Josie. Hopefully we will see each other again soon!
And now, onto the giveaway! Josie has given me a bunch of Dreamless bookmarks that I want to share with you guys. But there's more!
WHAT CAN YOU WIN?
Main prize: A signed paperback of Starcrossed and a few Dreamless bookmarks.
Second prize: The rest of the Dreamless bookmarks (a couple of which are signed!)
Must be 13 or older.