‘Worldwalker series’: we chat to author Josephine Angelini about parallel universes, teenage love and strong women

If you’re not too sure who the wonderful Josephine Angelini is, then may we point you towards her glowing Goodreads account, which sees her newest release, ‘Firewalker’, with a pretty 4.2 stars out of 5.

This week we got to catch up with Josephine, author of both the ‘Worldwalker’ and the ‘Starcrossed’ series, to chat about all things bookish. Check out the full interview below:

How did you come up with the idea for the ‘Worldwalker’ series?

I was lying in bed, not sleeping, and thinking about parallel universes—as one does at 3 a.m. It occurred to me that if I ever met another version of myself from a parallel universe we’d probably end up as enemies. That was the seed for Lily and Lillian. The Woven were something that I’d had in my head for many years and they fit into this storyline, so I repurposed them from another story concept.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always written. I started keeping a journal when I was ten, but it didn’t occur to me until college that I was a writer. Actually, one of my professors told me in this off-hand way that I was a writer. Came as a surprise to me, but he thought it was obvious. It took me years to build up the courage to actually try it.

Lily suffers from life-threatening allergies in her own world. Do you think it’s important to feature heroine’s with flaws and disabilities like this?

Making your hero an underdog is a short cut to making her/him relatable. Harry Potter lost his parents and was raised by people who made him sleep in a broom cupboard. Kaniss and her family were literally starving to death. Few of us have ever faced those kinds of odds, but we all relate to someone who is struggling because we’re all struggling with something in our lives. With Lily, I wanted her burden to directly relate to the magical system that I came up with for the series. Personally, I like it when something that could be seen as a weakness is actually a person’s greatest strength. I think a lot of readers have direct experience with that.

Do you think it’s difficult to write real and honest accounts of girls when there is so much pressure to write stereotypically “strong” heroines?

I think girls are strong, and I don’t feel I’m being dishonest by depicting them that way. Now, not all girls are good fighters. I can’t, nor have I ever been able to do a pull up. But I’ve run marathons. I carried my daughter for nine months and then delivered her after 42 hours of labor. I spent 10 years of my life bartending in nightclubs, which means I spent a decade getting ogled by drunk, misogynist d-bags and I never murdered anyone. I am strong. But that doesn’t mean I’m good in a fistfight. Lily is strong. She is a veritable fountain of strength, but if you punched her in the face, you’d probably knock her out. In answer to your question, I don’t think depicting women as strong is false at all, but I do think that feeling forced to depict women as good fighters in order to show themas strong characters in modern YA is narrow and not necessarily true to how most women live their lives. We aren’t all Rhonda Rousey, but yes, we are STRONG.

Your last series, ‘Starcrossed’, dealt with romantic themes as well. Do you think romance is a key element in growing up and being a teen, or just something you enjoy writing?

Really interesting question. I think all emotions are sharper and more enveloping when you’re a teen, good and bad. I was never as exultant or as despondent as I was when I was a teenager. That goes double for love. Falling in love, and getting your heart broken as a teen is huge life experience. I don’t think it happens to everyone, but it happens to most. To not include it when writing about teens would be leaving out something, I think. Some kind of milestone.

Obviously, ‘Worldwalker’ and ‘Starcrossed’ are both fantasy series. Do you think fantasy has an important part to play in literature and the YA scene?

No idea. It’s just what I like to read and write. To me, fantasy is really important because it helped shape so much of my life. I’ll leave the literary meta-critiquing to someone who did better in English than I did.

Buy ‘Firewalker’ now on Amazon for £3.85.

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Written by Laura Fulton

Book Channel Editor at MaxPop! Have a thing for the sea and pretty paperbacks. Saved by amazing grace.

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