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Exclusive Interview: Pintip Dunn talks STAR-CROSSED

Pintip Dunn gives us the scoop on her new novel STAR-CROSSED!

Forget Tomorrow series author Pintip Dunn is back with a new sci-fi novel exploring royalty, love, and sacrifice!

Star-Crossed follows Princess Vela, who lives on the planet Dion, where food runs scarce and the people are starving. Vela undergoes a procedure that takes decades off her life, but can feed her people via nutrition pills. But there’s one person the procedure doesn’t save: her own ailing father.

One of Vela’s people will have to give their life to save the king and in exchange, their family will be provided for no matter what. But when Vela’s childhood crush Carr volunteers, she begins to feel the crushing weight of sacrifice. Could you stand to lose yourself if it meant saving the people you love?
We talked to author Pintip Dunn about when her best ideas come to her, world building Aegis vs colonists, and the relationships that drive the story, among other things! Dig in and get some more info on this daring tale!

What first inspired you to write Star-Crossed and how did the basic premise come together?

My husband and I are total foodies. For over a 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.

Although it’s sci-fi, this book deals a lot with food insecurity. What did you research did you do while developing the plot?

I’d say the book deals with food scarcity, rather than insecurity. It is a science fiction story that is set on a different planet, and the premise centers around eating as an issue of survival. However, even though it doesn’t concern body image, I wanted to make sure that I was as sensitive and respectful as possible to people who have disorders surrounding food and eating. Thus, I had three sensitivity readers review the manuscript with this topic in mind, including a person who has a digestive disorder similar to Astana’s and a graduate student from Columbia who studies eating disorders.

What are the pros and cons of being an Aegis versus a colonist on Dion?

An Aegis is someone who stepped up to receive the genetic modification. The pro for an Aegis is that they get to eat real food and experience the sensation of taste.

The cons are much more plentiful: 1) they must sacrifice 60 years of their lives; 2) they must spend their entire days eating (when eating becomes a duty, it is much less pleasurable); 3) they have a difficult time fitting in and making friends because they are viewed as separate from society.

A colonist is someone who receives their nutrition via a pill. The pros and cons are basically the opposite of the above. Specifically, the con is that they don’t get to taste real food, but the pros are that they get to live the full extent of their 90 years, they may pursue careers other than eating, and they can lead regular lives.

For both Aegis and colonist, it is heartbreaking when they fall in love with one another, as one will die 60 years earlier than the other.

Vela and her sister Blanca are polar opposites competing for the royal throne. Can you tell us a bit about why each of them wants to rule?

Vela make decisions first and foremost from her heart, but in order to rule, she must learn to incorporate quantitative data and analysis into her decision-making.

In contrast, Blanca is great at seeing the big picture and determining the greatest good for the largest number of people. In order to be a good leader, however, she has to understand when a moral imperative trumps all of the data.

Both Vela and Blanca grew up as the King’s daughters, so he’s been training them from birth to become his Successor. Ultimately, however, Vela wants to rule because she wants to help people, on a personal level, and Blanca believes that she would make the best decisions for the colony as a whole.

Pintip Dunn

What makes the chemistry between Vela and Carr so special?

Carr is Vela’s best friend’s brother. They’ve known each other since they were kids, and Vela has been half in love with him for most of her life.

Their chemistry is special because they bring out the best in each other. Carr believes that he is only loved because of what he can do for other people, and Vela shows him that the person he is — separate from the things that he does — is deserving and worthy of love.

Likewise, Vela’s first thought is always to protect the people that she loves, but Carr teaches her that sometimes honor is more important than love, and that the right decision might be the most difficult one.

Star-Crossed deals in the theme of sacrifice. Were there any additional ideas you have for the novel that you ultimately sacrificed to the drafting or editing process?

Blanca, the heroine’s sister, is an extremely interesting character because she starts off very cold and calculating. I initially wanted to explore her arc more thoroughly and give her a bigger redemption at the end of the story, but there simply wasn’t room. However, I’m very pleased to say that she is the heroine of the sequel/companion novel, SKY-KISSED, which will be releasing next year. I’m really excited to delve more deeply into her character!

What’s next for you?

My next novel, Malice, releases February 5, 2019! This book is about a teenaged girl who finds out that a boy in her class will one day create a virus that will wipe out two-thirds of the world…and she must decide if she can take his still-innocent life today in order to save millions in the future.

Want more? Check out our exclusive Star-Crossed excerpt!

Star-Crossed hits shelves on October 2, 2018. Preorder it now via…

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Indiebound | Kobo | Entangled Publishing

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…

By Kait

Kait is a New Englander, a YA book and adaptation lover, and a Slythindor, as well as a red velvet and red wine enthusiast. She likes to like things. Catch her on Twitter: @kaitmary

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