When I first read about Starcrush, the debut YA novel from Justine Erler, I was so excited! I have to admit to having a weakness for aliens...and alien rock stars?!? *swoon* So it's my pleasure to share with y'all about Starcrush and an interview I did with Ms. Erler.
***Starcrush by Justine Erler
Starcrush Series #1
Release Date: December 19, 2013
Genre: YA Fantasy, Romance
The Perfect Boyfriend … is an Alien.
What is the best things in life were on the verge of ending? What is a single thought -- or a single kiss -- changed everything? What if you realized that everything you knew -- everything you believed -- was suddenly wrong?
The emotionally-captivating debut novel of Justine Erler's Starcrush series introduces Genna Savoy, a psychically-gifted high school senior who finds herself torn between rival aliens who look...spectacularly human.
In the first half of Starcrush, Genna meets Byron, deliciously aloof and rock-god cool. The second half unleashed Elon, drop-dead gorgeous with a killer smile. Each represents the opposite ends of extreme, scary-wonderful in their own way. In the aftermath of these encounters, conflicted anti-heroine Genna Savoy struggles to accept her own feelings as the reality of her perfect boyfriend...slips away.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Like my protagonist, Genna Savoy, my interests include fashion, music and art. Within reasonable bounds, my adrenaline-fueled lifestyle in suburban New Jersey is represented in the book.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I decided to be a writer, although writing was something that I pursued academically in college. I didn’t actually find my “writer’s voice” until much later. There’s a natural evolution that happens in a writer’s life and
eventually, your personal brand of expressivity will find you…or an idea for a story won’t leave you alone.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I have a variety of interests outside of writing, which include reading, live concerts, museum exhibitions and tracking fashion trends. I’m also obsessive about films, especially Indie and foreign films. When I’m not home, a place I love to be, I divide time between New York, Los Angeles and Florence, Italy.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way, either while growing up or as an adult?
Too many to count, but the stand outs are classic, gothic literature, brimming with fiercely intelligent heroines and shadowy, conflicted anti-heroes. Jane Eyre is an emotionally-charged masterpiece, as well as Wuthering Heights. On some level, I think every romance writer is trying to find Heathcliff or some page-ready, personal version of him that can satisfy our own aesthetics.
How did Starcrush come about?
It was an idea for a story that wouldn’t leave me alone…
It started with the search to find an alternative to the vampire love triangle, which is a compelling concept, showing little signs of waning. Still, the topic of extraterrestrials always held a special fascination for me, so it seemed natural to pursue this interest in a fantasy context. The fact that “other worldly” life is speculative, yet increasingly probable, enabled a wide range of exciting possibilities.
With vampires, the rules that govern their behavior, etc. are grounded in literature and popular culture, apart from a few recent variations. It’s quite different for aliens because I didn’t have to compete with reader expectations, which allowed for more creative license in developing the characters and storyline.
Why are readers going to love Starcrush?
It’s the ultimate alien hang-out book…or maybe the only alien hang-out book. It hits all the trigger points of the reigning vampire novels, while tapping into popular culture, music and fashion. It’s totally modern and fresh in this respect. Everything that was cool about vampires is even cooler with high-tech aliens. The style is definitely rocker-edge and street-wise but with a touch of sophistication that recognizes the reader’s intelligence. .
It’s also a relatable story, written to evoke sci-fi, in the truest sense, without transporting the reader to other worlds or using typical space props. The fantasy elements are deliberately underplayed; the injection of “normal” in the “paranormal” context imbues the story with an insidious tone that drives intrigue and suspense, particularly in the second half of the book.
The story itself is intensely romantic. It exposes emotions that live just below the surface. The extrasensory abilities in the book allow the reader to get inside a character’s mind, with the opportunity to see how subsequent actions are often inconsistent with the way
people think. To this point, characters are complex, in terms of behaviors and motives.
Obviously, physical appeal is emphasized, yet I wanted to avoid the typical descriptions associated with male attractiveness…for the simple reason that I didn’t want to talk about what everyone else was talking about.
Is anything based on real life experiences or is it all purely imagination?
I don’t think my imagination is that good… so YES, I wrote from real life experience. The situations, the conversations…the characters in all their delicious complexity are rooted in my own impressions, something I might have seen, heard or felt. There were
times when I forgot the connection, and only remembered when I tried to find the words. The emotions, the ones that don’t have a name, the ones you no longer feel in the same way, are important because for many of us they still determine how we respond to situations in the present.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
My favorite parts of the book are the Elon chapters and scenes. I love his expressivity, his arm-sleeve tattoos, and how he never kisses Genna without his hands on her face. He’s the kind of guy that’s effortlessly cool, eager to embrace both love and life which to his way of thinking are really the same thing. I also enjoyed writing his scenes because they were a stark contrast to Byron, who was written as a more dark, brooding, slightly gothic character…fantastically aloof, as opposed to Elon, who is always engaging, always present.
What project are you working now?
The Starcrush series has a long story arc, which will keep my writing fingers nimble for some time. Currently, I’m working on the sequel, which will expand more on minor characters and develop the potentially dystopian elements of the series.
However, I will be launching a new adult vampire series shortly (how can I resist). Here again, I’ll be looking for ways to change up how vampires are typically portrayed, while still keeping them in a relatable and hip context.
I also have a pure romance project in the works and a middle grade book series that I will be working on with my daughter, which I’m very excited about.
Justine Erler is a business consultant with a background in health care management. She lives in central New Jersey with her husband and daughter. Starcrush is her first novel of the series, combining Books I and II, and was written while in search of the perfect vampire-alternative novel.