In this sparkling romantic comedy, a young journalist tampers with her magazine's horoscopes to win her friend's heart - and sets in motion an unpredictable and often hilarious ripple effect. . .
When Justine Carmichael (Sagittarius, aspiring journalist and sceptic) bumps into her old friend Nick Jordan (Aquarius, struggling actor and true believer) it could be by chance. Or perhaps it's written in the stars.
Justine works at the Alexandria Park Star - and Nick, she now learns, relies on the magazine's astrology column to guide him in life.
Looking for a way to get Nick's attention, Justine has the idea of making a few small alterations to 'Aquarius' before it goes to print.
It's only a horoscope, after all. What harm could changing it do?
Charting the many unforeseen ripple effects of Justine's astrological meddling - both for herself and others - Star-crossed is the funny, super-smart, feel-good novel of the year!
Minnie Darke- Gemini with Virgo Rising, Scrabble cutthroat and knitter, lover of books, freshly sharpened pencils and Russian Caravan tea – wrote this book to amuse herself and to entertain you.
Penguin Random House
Author: Minnie Darke
Question: What inspired you to write Star-Crossed?
Minnie Darke: I first had the idea for Star-crossed when I was working as a young journalist. One night, working late at a newspaper, I realised I could - if I wanted to - tinker with the horoscopes. I could make an entry strangely relevant for a friend of mine, or maybe even influence a big decision. I'm not saying I definitely ever did any of that, but it was an interesting idea, and I knew it could be the basis for a novel. I sat on the idea for a long time, but eventually the story emerged.
Question: Are the characters based on anyone you know?
Minnie Darke: Sometimes, aspects of people that I know, or stories that people have told me, will creep into the pages of my books. However, these elements tend to get blended together, and also mixed up with things that are entirely made-up. I will say, though, that there's a character called Phoebe Wintergreen, who is a very dramatic teenager, and she does remind me a little … just a little … of my teenage daughter.
Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
Minnie Darke: All inspiration comes from real life and real people. Where else could it come from? I'm a terrible eavesdropper, and I carry a notebook everywhere, to write down funny or tantalising things that people say. The trick is, though, to fold that real life inspiration into a fictional world. In the end it doesn't matter whether or not something 'really happened' - you have to be able to make it believable on the page.
Question: What is the best thing about creating a character like Justine?
Minnie Darke: Justine was a lot of fun to write. She's sharp and funny, and she carries a Sharpie pen with her to correct spelling mistakes and apostrophe crimes. Because she's so impulsive (she's a Sagittarius), you can always rely on her to do something that will later cause her a really interesting problem. She also has great fashion sense, thanks to her grandmother. Finally, she holds conversations with her own Brain … which is something I can relate to.
Question: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Minnie Darke: One thing is this: before you sit down to write, choose a scene from your story and spend some time playing the movie of it on your own, private mental cinema. Watch what each character does, how they move, what the room looks like, how the mood changes. Because your camera has an x-ray function, you should also look in on everyone's hearts and minds - what is each character thinking and feeling? Now that you've seen EVERYTHING, go back to your desk and work out which are the things your reader needs to know in order to reconstruct the whole scene for themselves. Don't tell them everything - tell the crucial bits, and let your reader fill in the blanks.
Another thing is this: realise that the biggest enemy to your creativity is likely the one inside you. Books like Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic and Stephen Pressfield's The War of Art can help you understand how to win the biggest battle a writer faces - overcoming the fear and resistance that stops you from just doing it.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Penguin Random House
Author: Minnie Darke