The simple idea for When Stars Die wasn’t influenced by any books at all, until I began to write it. I knew I wanted Amelia to be in a convent begging for her god’s forgiveness, as her younger brother is a witch–witches are the most hated things in her world. What Amelia doesn’t immediately know is that she is a witch as well, so I wanted to make it a sort of blasphemous thing that there are two witches in a church setting, one who wants to become a nun in the hopes of being forgiven, and one who doesn’t want to be there at all. I have Carolyn Meyer’sDuchessina: A Novel of Catherine de’Medici to thank for giving me a little bit of insight into how convents work. Of course, further research proved that each convent has its own unique standards, but I drew off Carolyn Meyer’s novel to help create mine; however, the convent in that book was a mere skeleton to create my own convent for the novel.
I also knew I wanted When Stars Die to take place in the 19th century, not only because I find the time period to be fascinating, but because of all the decorum, mannerisms, and strict rules for how women should behave, especially around males. A woman of this time period had little say in who she was married off to, and marriage wasn’t about love: it was about convenience. There is a point in the book where Amelia can no longer be at Cathedral Reims because her Mother Superior didn’t think she was yet ready for the rigors of being a nun; thus, Amelia goes back home and decides to live her father’s dream, which is to go to a finishing school, have her season, and be married off to a husband of her father’s choice. I have Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty Trilogy for helping me with the bulk of my research into this time period. Cassandra Clare’s A Clockwork Angelalso helped, and even though I still did my own research, those two books took care of most of the research into m foray of the 19th century.
There was something in me as well that said that The Stars Trilogy, overall, needed to be dark, and that darkness would have to be set up in When Stars Die. I have several books to thank for this: Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games Trilogy, Ryan Carrie’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth Trilogy, Lauren DeStefano’s The Chemical Gardem Trilogy, and Elizabeth Scott’s living dead girl. All of these books have a dark nature to them.
When I first began When Stars Die several years ago, I didn’t think the darkness was enough, so I made Amelia a very psychologically troubled character. In fact, there was this one scene where she punches her mirror, takes the shards from that mirror, and cuts herself all over. When going through and taking another crack at When Stars Die, I learned that that was too dramatic for her, that the darkness needed to occur outside of her external self. I needed to break her down as much as possible while trying to keep Amelia determined to survive it all, even if she temporarily gives up near the end of the book because of what happens with her brother–he is her entire world since she’s convinced her parents can’t be there for them.
I think I’ve struck the right balance with the darkness. I thought some of my readers would think it too dark, but it seems they think the darkness is just enough. Even so, they warn readers who are sensitive to what is present in the book to tread carefully when reading mine. I take that as a compliment, because it’s what I was going for.
As what influenced the idea of the witches in my book, there weren’t any book influences, save for The Minister’s Daughter by Julie Hearn. This is the book that set in motion my fascination for witches. Of course I had read other books about witches, but these real witches in these fantasy and paranormal novels were not hated, and I wanted mine to be hated so much that people’s lives revolved around their hatred for them. So my twist on witches came from my own mind. Basically, you’ll have to read When Stars Die in order to find out what separates my witches from others. Read some of the reviews on Goodreads. They can attest to this.
As for the paranormal element, I think once I threw witches in there, it had no choice but to be a paranormal. I at first struggled with the genre because the paranormal genre in the YA section didn’t really exist yet, not until Stephenie Meyer’s inception of The Twilight Saga. That’s when I knew I had to put the paranormal label on my book. The romance part was tagged on to it as well because at the beginning of the book, there is a priest named Oliver Cromwell, who is infatuated with Amelia, and she is infatuated with him as well. They’ve been best friends for quite some time. While forbidden love isn’t an original concept, their’s is forbidden because nuns and priests have to take vows of chastity, so relationships aren’t possible. Eventually they break those vows, but several of my reviewers did say it can’t really be paranormal romance because of what happens in the ending. But genre is just a label, after all, to market a book, and apparently paranormal romances are still popular from what I’ve seen on the shelves, though my book isn’t in a bookstore yet. It’s in a boutique in Tennessee, however.
So all of the books listed above are the books that inspired me while I was revising When Stars Die.
Thank you all for taking the time to read this post. I hope you enjoyed it.
Thank you so much, Amber!