Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed
By Stephanie Monahan
Helen Hamilton knows she isn’t an ordinary teenager. She’s got more strength than a grown man twice her age, and she can run circles around the rest of her track team without even trying. And then there are the hallucinations, the three crying women who won’t leave her alone. Helen knows she’s different, but has no idea exactly how different she is ~ or what she is.
Starcrossed is the first in a young adult trilogy about teen descendants of Greek Gods. Author Josephine Angelini grew up in Ashland, MA and attended NYU. Though she’d always written, she never considered herself a “real” writer. “It took a long time for me to build up the courage to admit that writing was what I wanted to do as a profession,” she said during our interview. “It’s scary to put your writing out there and risk criticism.”
Angelini was always a fan of fantasy and science fiction. “In college I was a classical theatre major, so I read all the ancient works by Aristophanes, Euripides, and Sophocles.?Picking a storyline based on the Iliad was just a natural ‘write what you know’ thing.” Since Helen and Paris were teenagers in the Iliad, the Starcrossed trilogy is written from a teen’s point of view. Modernizing a story based on arranged marriage and a war started by a runaway bride was challenging, but Angelini managed to construct a contemporary novel and created Helen, descended from Helen of Troy, and Lucas, son of Apollo, who must resist their attraction to each other or else be responsible for cataclysmic consequences.
This modern-day telling of The Iliad takes place in Nantucket for three reasons. “The first is that I’m from Massachusetts, so I wanted to set my story in a place I know,” Angelini explained. “The second is that I needed to isolate my main character. Helen of Troy was trapped inside a walled city for ten years while the war went on and I wanted to ‘trap’ my Helen by surrounding her somehow, and the best way to do that was on an island.” The third reason is simple: “It’s really beautiful.? I love it there!”
Angelini will be on Nantucket for the Nantucket Book Festival June 15-17, signing books and talking with readers.
Dreamless, the trilogy’s second installment, was released in May 2012 and is available in stores and online. Goddess, the final book, will be out in May 2013.