Today I’m very excited to present an interview with Audrey Coulthurst and Paula Garner, authors of STARWORLD–an emotional YA contemporary that explores themes of friendship, sexuality, and the battles we face in our everyday lives.
Spoiler: Their answers are FUN.
Sam Jones and Zoe Miller have one thing in common: they both want an escape from reality. Loner Sam flies under the radar at school and walks on eggshells at home to manage her mom’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, wondering how she can ever leave to pursue her dream of studying aerospace engineering. Popular, people-pleasing Zoe puts up walls so no one can see her true self: the girl who was abandoned as an infant, whose adoptive mother has cancer, and whose disabled brother is being sent away to live in a facility. When an unexpected encounter results in the girls’ exchanging phone numbers, they forge a connection through text messages that expands into a private universe they call Starworld. In Starworld, they find hilarious adventures, kindness and understanding, and the magic of being seen for who they really are. But when Sam’s feelings for Zoe turn into something more, will the universe they’ve built survive the inevitable explosion?In a novel in two voices, a popular teen and an artistic loner forge an unlikely bond — and create an entire universe — via texts. But how long before the real world invades Starworld?
1. Hi, Audrey and Paula! Thank you so much for being here today! To start off, how did this collaboration come about?
(Audrey) Starworld was born at the intersection of two concepts: the question of what might have happened if our high school selves had met, and Paula’s insistence that we write a book “in the stars” (e.g., *writes a terrible first draft*) despite a lack of any plot or characters at the outset. Between revisions on our debuts we started exchanging chapters back and forth, having way too much fun sneaking in inside jokes while also exposing some painful pieces of our pasts and ourselves.
2. What were some difficulties you encountered during the collaboration and what were some of your favourite moments?
(Paula) We had a really easy time co-writing. I think one of the most difficult times was when beta readers pointed out things that might come off as insensitive for various reasons. That was the last thing we ever intended, and it did hurt to hear—but ultimately it made for a better book, seeing some of those issues and having the chance to change them.
Favorite moments: the excitement and joy of reading a new chapter from the other, and all our hilarious shenanigans in Google docs trying to write startalk or dialogue on the same page at the same time.
(Audrey) We spent a rather unhealthy amount of time trolling each other throughout the drafting process.
3. Both Zoe and Sam deal with a lot of things in their family lives: divorced parents, parents with OCD and cancer, and a brother with special needs. And it amazed me just how real the emotions involved are–the worry, the guilt, the helpless anger. Did that come from personal experience or extensive research?
Both. We each drew on difficult things from our own lives/pasts, but we also did a lot of research to be as accurate and true as possible.
4. I don’t know how you got a hold of my messaging histories, but some of Zoe and Sam’s asterisk talk is straight out of my own conversation with friends. Are you both big asterisk users?
(Paula) *does not know what you’re talking about* *never talks in stars* *especially not to Audrey* *huffs* Okay the truth is we always have talked in stars and we have a hard time NOT doing it.
(Audrey) *startles awake* *stares into space attempting to look like a sage author type but actually trying to remember one of Ruby Rose’s tattoos*
5. I think, at one point or another, we all need a Starworld of our own–a place that we can escape to and call our own. Zoe and Sam’s world comes with kingdoms and dragons and mysterious quests. What does your perfect Starworld look like? And who would you take with you?
(Paula) I think if grown-up Audrey and I had a Starworld, it would have a lot of spicy food, good cocktails, amazing settings, LOTS of hilarium, and of course, each other.
(Audrey) Spoiler: it’s a bar. But a classy bar.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Audrey Coulthurst writes YA books that tend to involve magic, horses, and kissing the wrong people. When she’s not dreaming up new stories, she can usually be found painting, singing, or on the back of a horse.
Audrey has a Master’s in Writing from Portland State University and studied with Malinda Lo as a 2013 Lambda Literary Foundation Fellow. She lives in Santa Monica, California.
ENTER HERE to win one of three copies of Starworld! Open Internationally (Age 13+).
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