Inkpop Blog

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Scoring Your First Book Deal & More: Inside the Mind of Josephine Angelini

Posted by inkpopbecki on May 25, 2011

Josephine Angelini had an interesting road to publication. After leaving her job, living on nothing but credit cards and hope, on the brink of quitting she received a multi-figure publishing contract with HarperCollins. Whoa, you say!? Whoa is right! If you’d like to speak to Josephine about this or other topics related to debut series, Starcrossed, join us for a live chat today at 5 p.m. EST in the inkpop forum events. We caught up with Josephine to ask her a few questions.

In Starcrossed you use aspects of Greek mythology to create a modern day paranormal. What inspired you to use Greek mythology?

I studied Classical Theatre in college, so this was one of those “write what you know” scenarios.  I took The Iliad, mixed in a heavy dose of Romeo and Juliet, added a dash of The Oresteia for spice and voila!

I was inspired to use Greek mythology because the same themes that worked way back then still work today.  Togas may have gone out of fashion (I have no idea why—so comfortable!) but people still fall in love and run away together and they still want to strangle their relatives.  Not much has changed.

I’ll let you in on a little secret– the ancients loved paranormal romance.  They called it “theatre”.

How much did you adhere to the real mythology and how much were you able to rewrite for your own purpose? How do you decide what to use and what to rewrite? How do you turn this type of mythology, which can be a little academic, into a compelling new story?

At first glance, it would seem like I rewrote quite a bit, but as the series progresses you’ll see that I kept a lot more of The Iliad than is shown in Starcrossed—I just had to disguise it.  I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll zip it.

There are some things that I felt had to change though, mostly because there is one huge point in Homer’s original that no modern mind can accept.  A ten-year war because two crazy kids fall in love?  I never bought it, and I don’t think there are many people today that would buy it either.  So, I had to find a way to justify a war started for love, but still use the themes that are essential in Greek tragedy—revenge, the sin of kin-killing, and yes, incest.

The one Greek theme I leave out (purposely) is cannibalism.  You’d be surprised how many of the ancient myths there are in which the moral of the story is “don’t eat anybody”.  Makes you wonder…

But, as to making these ancient themes interesting, I didn’t feel like I had to do anything at all.  This is epic stuff, here.  Gods and families and the threat of a devastating war tearing young lovers apart—I don’t think it gets any more interesting than that.  All I did was get out of the way.

What did it take to sell your first novel? Where there any adjustments that had to made to get it ready for the publishing market?

I think there are always a million things that can be fixed in any story before publishing.  Writing really is mostly rewriting.  For Starcrossed, the plot stayed the same, and my characters, or course, but there were plenty of things that had to be clarified and cleaned up before my book was fit to print.  I tend to complicate things, and I don’t understand why other people can’t just look inside my brain and see what I see.  Luckily, both my agent and my editor are no-nonsense ladies that insist on clarity.  They push me to simplify whenever I can and they pare down my rambling writing style whenever possible.

Want to hear more from author Josephine Angelini? Check out the live chat today at 5 p.m. EST in the inkpop forum events.

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