Author Spotlight: Pintip Dunn talks Star-Crossed
I'm over-the-moon excited to be hosting Pintip Dunn is on the blog today! As a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction, she graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B., and received her J.D. at Yale Law School. Pintip’s debut novel FORGET TOMORROW won the 2016 RWA RITA® for Best First Book, and SEIZE TODAY won the 2018 RITA for Best Young Adult Romance. Her books have been translated into four languages, and have been nominated for the following awards: the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire; the Japanese Sakura Medal; the MASL Truman Award; the Tome Society It list; and the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her other titles include REMEMBER YESTERDAY, THE DARKEST LIE, GIRL ON THE VERGE, STAR-CROSSED, and the upcoming MALICE.
"Cleverly written, intriguing, and heart-wrenching." – New York Times bestselling author Jodi Meadows
Princess Vela's people are starving.
Stranded on a planet that lacks food, Vela makes the ultimate sacrifice and becomes an Aegis for her people. Accepting a genetic modification that takes sixty years off her life, she can feed her colony via nutrition pills. But her best friend is still getting worse. And she's not the only one.
Now the king is dying, too.
When the boy she's had a crush on since childhood volunteers to give his life for her father's, Vela realizes her people need more than pills to survive. As tensions rise between Aegis and colonists, secrets and sabotage begin to threaten the future of the colony itself.
Unless Vela is brave enough to save them all…
And now, here's my chat with Pintip!
Hi, Pintip! Welcome and congrats on the release of Star-Crossed. Can you share a little about the story and what inspired it?
Thanks so much, Megan! I’m thrilled to be here!
My husband and I are total foodies. For over decade, we would say to each other after a particularly big meal, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could transfer our calories to someone who really need them?” One night, I was lying in bed drifting off to sleep when it suddenly struck me that this would make a pretty cool idea for a book. (I’d also like to note how often ideas come to me as I’m falling asleep!)
Of course, the premise of STAR-CROSSED is a little more complicated. Because land is scarce on the planet of Dion, not enough food can be produced to feed the entire colony. Thus, Princess Vela steps up to receive a genetic modification so that she can convert food into energy more efficiently. The nutrition is extracted from her via a pill and distributed to the rest of the colony.
The genetic modification means that Vela’s life will be cut short by 60 years — but that’s not her worse problem. She’s been tasked with choosing a boy fit to die so that her father, the King, may continue to live. But the person who emerges as the best candidate is . . . the boy she’s loved all her life.
Your world building in Star-Crossed is incredible. What’s your best tip for creating a unique, yet relatable, sci-fi setting?
Remember that an entire world is not built in a single day! Personally, I become overwhelmed when thinking about the setting of a new novel, especially when it is set on a different planet and complete different from ours.
What I've learned is that a world doesn't just pop into my head, fully formed. Rather, I may start with the broad strokes, and day by day, I'll color it in by adding a little more detail and flushing out different components. So, as I’m writing, I'll brainstorm about the specific parts that are relevant to that scene. I do this for enough days, and then presto, at the end, I find myself with a whole new world!
What part of the writing process do you find most challenging and how do you tackle it?
I think the most difficult part is dealing with all of the ups and downs of publishing. I wanted this dream for so long. But what happens when you finally achieve the dream you’ve wanted all your life — only to discover it looks pretty different than what you imagined?
Well, that’s what publishing is!
After a lot of soul-searching, I came to the conclusion that publishing, as well as life, is always going to be stressful. There will always be disappointments and mishaps, none of which are under are control. What’s more, we’re not going to be able to change that fact.
But the one thing that we can alter is our attitude. And so, these days, I'm much more relaxed about everything that could and does go wrong. I focus my energy, instead, on the parts that I truly love, the reason why I got into this business in the first place: writing.
Please explain #EatABugForStarCrossed (LOL!)?
LOL!! As I mentioned, in my book, land is scarce. So scarce that there’s not enough for livestock, and my characters eat insects for proteins.
Thus, I asked some of my author friends if they would be willing to eat or lick a scorpion lollipop to help me promote the book, and over fifty authors signed up!
I have been absolutely blown away by the photos and videos that my friends have posted. What’s more, the posts make me feel very loved. To be honest, this is one of my very favorite moments of being an author — to witness my friends going the extra mile to support me. It makes me feel that this book is already a success, no matter what happens.
I’m a firm believer in the idea that every story teaches the writer something new, so what did writing Star-Crossed teach you?
Writing STAR-CROSSED taught me how to put my entire heart into a book.
I wrote this story while I was on submission with my first novel, FORGET TOMORROW. For a year, I was pummeled with rejections, which all said more or less the same thing: “We love this book, but we can’t publish it because of the genre.” I could’ve despaired. In fact, I did despair — for a short while. And then, that feeling turned into anger. That's an emotion I had never experienced with my writing before. Hope, yes. Depression, definitely. But never anger.
A fire started burning deep inside me. “I’m going to write a book so good,” I swore to myself, “that they won’t be able to reject me, no matter what the market says!” So, maybe this difficulty turned out to be a good thing. I can honestly say that I put every bit of my heart into this book. I’ve produced seven novels that have been or will be published, and this is the only book I’ve written with this level of fire and passion.
What are you reading, watching, or otherwise currently infatuated with?
Ha! The last time that I was legitimately infatuated with something — as in, counting down the minutes until the next episode, obsessively googling articles, etc. — was the last season of The 100. Clarke and Bellamy, and their chemistry, get me every time.
And finally, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in your publishing career?
I've learned that most things in publishing aren’t really that big of a deal. That may sound negative or pessimistic, but it really isn’t. When I published my first book, everything seemed like a disaster. A negative review? Oh, no! The wrong bio was used? The end of the world! My editor’s leaving the publisher? A true emergency! But I survived all of those events -- and similar such mishaps -- many times over, and I now know that in the bigger scheme of things, none of the small stuff ultimately matters. I have to say, I’ve been much happier since reaching this conclusion.
Many thanks go out to Pintip for taking the time to tell us more about her writing journey, her process, and STAR-CROSSED! Be to sure to add Pintip's clever, and immersive sci-fi to your Goodreads list, or order your copy (WRITE) NOW from retail sites like Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. And to further support the author (and your community!), don't forget to request this title at your library/local independent bookstore!
For more, follow Pintip on Twitter, and visit her author website at pintipdunn.com.
And, as always,