Hello everyone! I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour for The Trouble with Shooting Stars by Meg Cannistra. Today I’m sharing a guest post from the author, which I loved reading. Be sure to check out her absolutely incredible middle-grade novel, out today!
The Trouble with Shooting Stars
Release Date: August 20, 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Wonder meets Mary Poppins in this heartfelt debut novel about magic, healing, and the importance of family. Twelve-year-old Luna loves the nighttime more than anything else. It’s when no one gives her “that look” about the half mask she has to wear while healing from a disfiguring car accident. It’s also the perfect time to sit outside and draw what she sees. Like the boy and girl from the new family next door…zipping out of the window in a zeppelin and up to the stars.
At first she thinks she’s dreaming. But one night they catch her watching. Now Luna spends her nights on adventures with them, as they clean full moons, arrange constellations, and catch jars of stardust. She even gets to make a wish on a shooting star they catch.
But Luna learns that no wish is strong enough to erase the past—as much as she may hope to.
Making Magic in the Real World
The Trouble with Shooting Stars is set in present-day Staten Island (a place that on the surface doesn’t feel very whimsical) and has a quiet magic humming under the surface. Balancing the magical world with that of the real one was tricky at times. There were many sleepless nights where I’d be lying in bed, furiously tapping world rules into my notes app. These nights were often followed by an overwhelming desire to break those rules and magic Luna’s troubles away because, hey, magic exists and that’s an easier solution than making Luna work for her happy ending.
But there’s zero fun for the reader if the author breaks into the story and makes everything better by breaking her own rules. That’s the biggest challenge – creating sensical rules that work in both a magical and realistic setting. Rules that get these two opposing forces singing in perfect harmony.
Creating magical rules for a realistic setting is like telling a convincing lie. Some details need to be accurate and there should be some ugly bits thrown in so it’s not too slick. But you also can’t give away everything or else it’ll feel fake.
The fireflies in The Trouble with Shooting Stars, for example, are attracted to magic – even on blustery winter nights. Luna and the Sapienti kids have seen fireflies before. And that detail is accurate. Both Staten Island and Italy have fireflies so they would realistically know what fireflies are and how unusual it is for them to be out and about in cold weather. Now, fireflies being fantastical creatures who swarm even if it’s too chilly for them is the rule. It’s grounded by a realistic detail, but then evolves from that into a magical rule that makes sense in a real-world setting.
Another hard and fast world rule was having the constellations the kids visit be those only seen in the northern hemisphere in winter months. It wouldn’t make sense for the Spazzatrici’s to work out of Staten Island only to to fly up to space and tend to constellations on the other side of the world. Grounding their nightly trips with the fact that they only interact with specific constellations helps keep the magic from consuming the entire story and opening a Pandora’s box of questions.
Ultimately, as with any story, accurate worldbuilding and a solid set of rules are the best way to combat the challenge of blending magic with a realistic setting. With a strong foundation, braiding magic into your world will come as naturally as wishing on a shooting star.
Hi! My name is Meg and thanks for visiting my website. I write middle grade and young adult books that are mostly magical and sometimes spooky. I grew up in Sarasota, Florida — a circus town that overlooks the Gulf of Mexico. Ever since I was a child, the best books included three things: Lush worlds, enthralling mysteries, and kickass female protagonists. Some of my favorites growing up were Harriet the Spy, The Gemma Doyle Trilogy, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. These books were my anchors and could often be found messed up in the blankets on my bed.
After graduating with a BA in English Literature from Flagler College, I moved to New York City where I worked full time while pursuing an MFA in writing for children and young adult’s from Hamline University. In 2017, I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, with my fiancé and two cats — Gloom and Doom.
In addition to writing books and working in digital marketing, I’m the co-chair of We Need Diverse Books’ mentorship program. When I’m not reading fantastical stories or writing my own, I like cooking highly involved meals, playing with my cats, collecting taxidermy, and watching bad reality TV shows. Check out my blog for more stories, writing tips, and weird pictures from my life.