I am extremely excited and very honored to have Starcrossed and Dreamless author, Josephine Angelini on the blog today! We chatted about mythology, YA books and, of course, her anticipated sequel Dreamless.
Quick note: I read Angelini’s debut novel Starcrossed last year, and I loved it! I even created a music playlist for it too. I read Dreamless, the sequel to Starcrossed and will be reviewing it shortly on the blog. (Review spoiler: I loved it TOO!)
Interview with Josephine Angelini
Find Josephine Angelini and her books here:
1 Although I read Edith Hamilton’s Mythology in high school…I forgot almost all of it. For myself and others who may be a bit out of touch, how closely does Dreamless follow classic mythology?
J.A. It follows classic mythology rather closely, but of course, I tweaked a lot of it. For instance, the Houses of Atreus, founded by Zeus, and Thebes, founded by Apollo, and Athens, founded by Theseus, a son of Poseidon, really existed in ancient times. Although I’m sure the whole, “But really, I’m the son of a god!” argument that the real founders claimed was baloney. Rome was founded by Aeneas who a son of Aphrodite and a great general in the Trojan War. I took the liberty of building on that and inventing the House of Rome, but I did so based on Ovid, so I think I’m safe there.
There are a few places where I extended the meaning of certain aspects of the mythology, like with the Furies. They were created to punish kin-killers (and then turned into the Eumenides by Apollo and Athena, but I ignore that point in my story), and I stretched their meaning to include the four Scion Houses. But in defense of that choice, I’d like to say that if the Houses are all descended from the gods and the gods are all related, then all the Scions are related as well. So if one member from one House kills a member from another House, technically it is kin-killing and the Furies would punish them for it. Remember that point later for GODDESS.
The two major things I made up entirely were the Truce (the imprisonment of the gods on Olympus) and the prophecy about the Tyrant. Those I created out of thin air for the sake of the story, although the Greeks did fear and hate tyrants (as was shown in Aeschylus’ fantastic play, Seven Against Thebes) and would do pretty much anything to get rid of them. I like to think that making the Tyrant the thing that Scions fear the most was in the spirit of ancient Greek sentiment, and therefore not too forced.
Wow, that was a long answer. Sorry about that!
2If you had to be a mythical being from ancient Greece, who would you be and why?
J.A. The Sphinx. She was a total smarty-pants know-it-all, like I aspire to be (kidding!). I think I’d just love to be a half-woman, half-lion with wings. Way better than being a siren, although some of them had wings too, but I think being a flying half-lion is so much cooler than being a flying half-fish.
3 Have you always been interested in mythology or did something in particular inspire this story?
J.A. Both. I’ve always loved fantasy and science fiction in general, and when I was a kid Greek myth was just another form of fantasy to me. I studied a lot of Greek plays in college, so I had a solid familiarity with the material when I decided to write STARCROSSED.
But something in particular inspired this story, as well. I saw a copy of The Iliad sitting next to a copy of Romeo and Juliet on my bookshelf, and I wondered why no one had tried to do a modern re-telling of The Iliad but from the lover’s perspective. I happened to wonder it out loud to my husband, and his eyes lit up. He told me to quit my job and write that story. So I did. (He’s a VERY good husband!)
4 As if Helen’s love life wasn’t complicated enough in Starcrossed it becomes even more so in Dreamless. When you’re writing about a love triangle as an author, do you know who your character will end up with from the beginning or does it change as you write?
J.A. I know who will end up with whom. I’m one of those crazy plotters/planners/outliners. I have to know how the story ends before I start writing or I panic. I have no idea how “pantsers” (people who write by the sat of their pants) do it. Like you said, I write pretty complicated plots and I couldn’t do that if I didn’t map out the plot beat by beat and make sure there are no logic holes in the story. I hate logic holes. When I find one in a book or a movie it drives me bananas. It’s like, if you’re going to spend six to eight months of your life writing something, at least make sure the plot works first…right? Anyway! That’s my pet peeve.
5 The idea of dreaming and not dreaming is really important in this novel. In writing the book, did you have strange or vivid dreams?
J.A. I do have strange, vivid dreams—if I can manage to sleep at all, that is. I’ve always been a rotten sleeper, and I’ve suffered through several bouts of insomnia over the course of my life. The first one was in high school. I would get out of bed and go running at two o’clock in the morning just to try to tire myself out so I could fall asleep. I’ll tell you, not being able to sleep is no joke. It’s slow torture and over time it really messes with your head. I tried to recreate that with Helen, but also up the stakes by literally putting her through hell. I love to torture that poor girl.
6 I’m not sure if authors have favorite characters in their own books, but if you have one in Dreamless, who is it and why?
J.A. Helen is my favorite, but Hector is the most fun to write. Sometimes I wish I could be more like him because he says whatever he thinks, and then I remember that I don’t want to be a big jerk half the time and I’m glad I’m not like him. But man, it’s fun to live vicariously through that big lug.
7 Can you give us any hints as to what’s going to happen in the third book??
J.A. I pull out all the stops for GODDESS. There is no stake too high, no power to powerful, and no battle to big for my book 3! I figure it’s about gods, for crying out loud. You can’t leave any of the horses in the stable if you’re going to write about gods.
Plot wise, I’ll just say that Helen finally figures out what she is and why she has all these strange talents, a huge hero of the Trojan War is revealed, hidden inside a character that you already know and love, and that all of your questions will be answered.
8 You probably knew this question was coming too, but when can we expect to read in the third book of this series?
J.A. Well, the third book is finished, but I think it’s going to be a while yet before Harper releases any advanced copies. I honestly have no idea when they will even print those up. They like to keep writers in the dark about strategy because they know we’re all a bunch of blabbermouths.
9 Is there anything else you would like to add about Dreamless, yourself, etc.?
J.A. The only thing that I’d like to say is that I hope you all enjoy it!
Thanks again to Josephine Angelini for stopping by the Read.Breathe.Relax.!