During the 2013 bookfair in Leipzig we had the pleasure to do a spontaneous interview with bestseller author Josephine Angelini. At the beginning of March her third book „Goddess“ in the „Starcross“-Trilogy got released in Germany. Attention! It contains some little spoilers.

 Josie

Thank you for this spontaneous interview! 

You’re welcome. It’s a pleasure.

 

When did you decide to be a full-time-writer?

I was a classical Theatre Major at NYU, so it was a lot of text there and a lot of writing about Shakespeare, either in text or performing. I did both. But I didn’t know I could be a writer. It took me a really long time to figure it out. I moved to Los Angeles about ten years ago and I thought: „Maybe I wanna be a screenwriter?“ I didn’t know where I really fit and I did not really commit to writing until ‚Starcross‘. I didn’t knew, that I’d actually do it until I did it. And then I was like: „Oh, maybe I’m a writer“ and I finished the book. And than, I was sort of: „I am a writer! I actually made it through a whole book!“ *laughing* I was shy about it and I took it very slowly.

 

I think everybody is very shy about their own writing, because you do not really know if it’s good or bad, or how other people like it.

Or if you have something to say. Not even if you are a good or a bad writer, but if you write with any value. Everybody wants to write something and not to ask other people why, no matter how it is. For me it was like I thought I hadn’t anybody to ask. Than I wrote the book and I did it.

 

Your family supports you?

Yes, they are very supportive.

 

When you finish your books, are you doing some kind of summary?

I put that off, as long as I can, until my publisher says: „Give us a summary“, because I’m terrible at it. When you write a whole book and somebody asks you to take all that and put it into some kind of paragraph, that’s impossible.

 

How many pages do your books have? Do you have a word count?

The first book has 120.000 Words. The second book has even more, about 130.000. And the final book has about 180.000. So it’s a long book. My books are about 45.000 words longer than the average in my genre. And I know that they have a lot ‚giants‘ in Germany. And I heard that the german translation is wonderful by the way. So yes, my books are very long for my genre.

 

Did you plan your story from the beginning as a Trilogy?

I planned it as three books from the beginning. I grow up with Star Wars. As I was a little kid and saw it the first time, it gave me a heart attack, as it was so overwhelming. I think this had a lot of influence to my writing. I think of books in terms of three phases of writing. There’s a beginning, a dark middle and a triumphing end. So when I outline my book, I outline the whole of the first book very intensely and for the second and third book I had the ideas. But I always knew it would be a trilogy.

 

Do you have a favorite scene in your books?

From the first book it’s definitely the scene where Lucas and Helen fall. I had that scene in my head from the beginning. I was breathing for that scene. And I would love to see that in the movie. *laughing*

In the second book it’s that final battle. Where Helen is injured and Zack is the one, who basically tells her how she can save them all. That scene was in my head for ever. And I was really careful how I did it. Because Zack was one of these characters you hate and in the end he becomes a hero. I know how this story would end through all I was writing the second book. My editors kept saying: „We don’t like Zack.“ And I kept telling: „You guys have to wait. You have to get to the end of the second book and you will like Zack.“

 

So you fight for him?

Yes, because I had that scene in my head.

 

When you start a new book – a new project, do you write down your characters, or are you having everything in your mind?

I write it down. I’m doing a lot of prefatory work. A lot of the book is actually written, before I start writing a word. I make sure my outline is really complete and I write my character along with my storyline. I write them side by side, because I think character forms plot and plot forms character. So you have to decide if the character who makes a choice, if this is that kind of guy to make that choice. And if he isn’t, than I have to change my character. So they feed back and forth on each other. So before I ever start writing, I’m very particular about prefatory work on my character work and plot.

I think you can get lost in the story, especially when you wanna write more than one book in a period. You really can get lost if you don’t figure it all out first.

 

Are you writing out of order? Like you switch to another scene, when you stuck in the other one?

No. I write in order. I’m writing a scene and I realize it doesn’t work. And than I have to go back and look into my outlines and change a few things, because I’m in the middle of writing and I know it doesn’t make sense. I thought it would, but it can’t work. But I always write in order. I like that feeling about the arc. I like to feel the growth of my characters and the way the story changes in time.

 

How many manuscripts are in your desk?

Four are finished. Three for ‚Goddess-Trilogy‘ and the first book for another trilogy. I have the outlines for an unfinished one. But it is so complicated. It’s just like a rough idea but nothing concrete yet. I do have screenplays which I never sold.

 

Are you not able to switch them into book manuscripts?

Actually I thought about it. Maybe there are one or two their might, but one of them would be for much younger readers – its about for middle grade – and another one is not Fantasy. And I don’t know if I’m interested in writing that right now. I really enjoy writing Fantasy. I think the reason why my screenplays never win anywhere, was because I wasn’t really writing what I love and that wasn’t until ‚Starcross‘.

 

So your new project will be Fantasy as well?

*huge smiling* Yes.

 

With a love story?

*giant smile* Yeah. There’s got to be a love story. For me it’s different, as it’s not as romantic as in ‚Starcross‘. Its a little bit more complicated than „I love you forever“ – immediate love. But there is definitely a love story.

 

Orion, Lucas and Helen are a typical Love triangle. Did you wrote it, as you like love triangles, or as almost every book in this genre is using it?

I think you write what you like and I liked it. I had read it in other books, definitely. But its not one of these things you do, because other people did it. I like love triangles. They are a lot of fun. Not to be in it, just to read about it.

 

I like Orion, and I like Lucas, but for me it was always Lucas. For me, Orion was just the best friend, and never a lover.

I think, a lot of people they have a friend and they like: „I can make this work.“ You know, you have this great guy-friend and you commit to each other and you think to yourself: „He is great for me. I’m going to work on a date.“ Like that, it is the way it should be, but you do not really feel it. I think a lot of girls think that.

 

For me it never worked as a Love triangle, even if I know it was one. I always saw Orion as the best friend.

Everybody has a different feeling about it. My manager actually said: „I wanted her to be with Orion. He’s better for her.“ Everybody has a different taste about it. I like that. I like, that people take from it, what ever they want. That’s interesting.

 

How popular is Fantasy in America?

It is very popular. Especially, when it comes to a movie. Movies have gotten so good now. When you go to see a Fantasy movie which was a book and they turned it into a movie, it looks good. They couldn’t do the stuff they do now 20 or 30 years ago.

I think people are more open to Fantasy, as it’s becoming more mainstream, because technology caught up with imagination. But I think that everything comes and goes. Fantasy will be in a few years and than go out and I’ll be writing books that nobody reads, but I still writing my books *laughing*.

 

Recently it looks like Hollywood buys every bestseller book and make a move from it. How do you think about it?

It is like this. There is a marketing reason for that, as movies are just so expensive now. So, if your book has a lot of readers, it is probably going to be a movie, because its safe for the studios. When you talk about hundreds of millions of Dollars you better make sure, that people go and see it. As there is a lot of money to lose.

 

During your reading, you told us, that ‚Starcross‘ is going to be a movie.

*smiling* Yes. But there isn’t anything concrete yet. We are still in the process to figure everything out.

 

Would you like to have a small part in your movie? Standing in the background like Stephenie Meyer did?

Oh, I don’t know. If I could be a waitress or something like that, that would be okay. But anything where I had something to say … No way. *laughing*

 

Are you going to write the screenplay?

We haven’t negotiated that yet, as we are still in process. I would love to, I’ll be open to it, but I’m not like: „If I don’t write that screenplay – that movie is not going to be made.“ I’m not that kind of a person. But I would love to be a part of it.

 

Do you like the german book covers?

They are beautiful. They are definitely one of my favorites. I can’t pick which one is my favorite, as they all are very gorgeous.

 

Do you know in how many languages your books got translated?

Languages are tricky, but I know it got sold in 25 different countries. And I’m getting these books, hard copies which they got published in.

 

Do you have some kind of shelf where you put them?

Yes. My ‚Vanity shelf‘. Just for the first book in every different language. I do have that, because I feel so fortunate to having been published. It’s something I wanna keep reminding myself of, and how lucky I am.

 

We talked with Josie almost thirty minutes, and for me they were the best thirty minutes in the past couple of years. Even now, when I’m writing down this interview, I have a huge smile on my face. Thank you again, for your time Josie, and I hope you enjoyed it, as much as we did. Hopefully we will see us again, and have the chance to talk about your new trilogy.

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