Hey everyone! I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Justine Erler, who has written a series called Starcrush. You should absolutely keep reading to see why aliens could be cooler than vampires and werewolves.
Close encounters of the crush-worthy kind. In the first novel of the Starcrush series, author Justine Erler introduces Genna Savoy, a psychically-gifted high school senior who finds herself torn between rival aliens who look … spectacularly human.
I drifted into silence as my eyes fell over him, the way he leaned over the desk, chilled to the extreme. Yet there was something overpowering about him. That “easy does it, rule-the-world” attitude felt good to be around but just now I couldn’t decide whether this made him the most incredible guy I ever met — or the most obnoxious.
I was relatively sure that the answer was not somewhere in between.
Justine Erler is a 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 story.
Belle: I think almost every girl at one time had an idea of what a perfect boyfriend should look like and act like. Did your idea of a perfect boyfriend make its way into one of the characters?
Justine: Yes — absolutely! The book alternates between two extreme versions of the perfect boyfriend. In the first half of the book, Byron is described as rock-god cool with a moody-perfection that lends enough resistance to make him completely irresistible. In the second half of the book, Elon is bold and flirty … and yet laid-back and sensual, as if the kiss is never far from his mind.
My personal idea of the perfect boyfriend is caught somewhere between the two main characters. Part of me wants the dark, romantic and slightly gothic version … while another part wants the super-relaxed, openly seductive “unafraid to dive head-first into fun” version. Differences aside, my personal ideal is seen in both characters … overwhelmingly handsome with stylish chin stubble and edgy, hip clothes.
B: So … aliens. In the YA world of vampires, angels and werewolves, what made you want to write about aliens?
J: I refused to be bound by “the rules” that exist with the usual cast of characters: vampires, angels and werewolves. They’re incredibly fun and won’t disappear anytime soon, yet writing about “an unknown” gave me the flexibility and license to do almost anything.
From the start, it was challenging to escape the expected biases against the alien subject. Typically, they’re associated with a super-horror extreme that can easily turn ridiculous if mishandled. The secret to making the idea work was to ground the story in a YA reality … real characters and places with a dialogue-driven plot that’s plausible, and to some degree, based on science. That being said, I didn’t want to go “off world” in the book, or show any of the stereotypical sci-fi scenes. I wanted readers to recognize their own lives in the book.
It’s also important to remember that Starcrush is first and foremost a love story, so I intentionally played down the sci-fi elements and made it relatable to a young, hip audience — set at the amazingly awesome Jersey Shore.
B: What part (or parts) of the story was most fun to write?
J: Of course, the love scenes were incredibly fun to write. I prefer building sensual tension by pulling back at strategic moments, under the notion that anticipation is almost more intense than action. The book moments where the characters tease each other relentlessly were my favorite scenes to write. I also enjoy teasing the reader by being both subtle and direct at the same time … so the shock value is there, but immediately tempered by something less than obvious.
B: How did you come up with your title?
J: I was looking for an astronomical term that was easily recognized. “Star” seemed like an obvious choice. Since the book is about crushing on ETs, I naturally merged the two ideas into “Starcrush.”
B: What advice would you want to give anyone who wants to be a writer?
J: Read good books and watch good movies. Then read every review you can get your hands on, so you can get outside of your own perspective and learn how others view things. Do this enough, and you’ll be able to anticipate scenes, identify both weak and strong points and apply an “exaggerated awareness” to your own work.
Starcrush Series Website: http://StarcrushStory.com
Facebook: Starcrush Story Twitter: @StarcrushStory
Amazon Purchase Link:
Thanks Justine! Happy reading, everyone!