Author Interview: Trish Doller talks about Where The Stars Still Shine

I'm thrilled to be hosting YA author Trish Doller, author of Something Like Normal and the just-published Where The Stars Still Shine.

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If you missed my review of Where the Stars Still Shine, just scroll down one post and check it out!

Hi Trish! I loved Where the Stars Still Shine and I'm so excited that you can stop by and answer a few questions.

Thank you. I’m happy to be here!

Jen: Becoming independent is the goal of many YA protagonists, but because of her very unusual upbringing, your main character Callie has to do the opposite -- learn how to be part of a family and let other people care about her. Was she a difficult character to write?

Trish: It probably sounds strange to talk about characters as if they’re real people but when I was writing my first novel (Something Like Normal), Travis was very forthcoming with what was bothering him and the way I needed to tell his story. It was like I was carrying him around in my head and sometimes he would not shut up! But with Callie...she was kind of like a feral kitten. She had a story, but I had to coax it out of her.  

Jen: I also loved the Florida setting of Where the Stars Still Shine. I've spent a fair amount of time on the Gulf Coast, but had no idea that Tarpon Springs has both a vibrant Greek-American community and a sponge industry. Can you talk a little about your research on the book's setting?

Trish: I wish I had something scholarly and smart to say here, but most of my research consisted of hanging out on Dodecanese Blvd., watching people, visiting gift shops, and eating Greek food. I will say that with each visit (maybe four or five in total) I noticed something I hadn’t before and most things worked themselves into the book. I did watch some videos about sponge diving and even took a ride on the tour boat that’s the inspiration for the one in the book.

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Jen: There were many fantastic secondary characters in Where the Stars Still Shine, but one of my favorites had to be Ariel, the snarky bookstore worker with the heart of gold. You're also a bookseller -- is Ariel your dark alter ego?

Trish: Ha! I think she might be. I definitely modeled the bookstore after the one I’d love to own--complete with the snarky categories. The character of Ariel was initially going to be a guy because I liked the idea of Callie having a guy friend who wasn’t a potential boyfriend, but after I wrote him (he didn’t have a name yet) I realized Callie needed to have more than just one female friend. Kat is the friend who cheers you up when you’re down. Ariel is the one who helps you hide a body.

These aren't Ariel's signs; they're from Capitol Books in DC.
Jen: Now I'm thinking which of my friends I'd call if I had a body to dispose of….  I'm always so excited when authors make playlists for their books. Can you tell us about a few of the songs on your Where the Stars Still Shine list (I linked to it below) and their connection to the story?

Trish: My absolute favorite song from the playlist is Girl America by Mat Kearney because it is so perfectly Callie and I still have a hard time listening to it without getting a little teary-eyed. I think the lines that connect best are these: 
My girl America, stop can't you see
It's not the circumstances that determine who you're gonna be
But how you deal with these problems and pains that come your way
It's for you that I pray with hope for a brighter day
And so I say, your deliverance is coming
One of my more light-hearted favorites is a song by Matt Nathanson called Bottom of the Sea. I think it fits in so many ways--Alex’s not-quite-chosen profession, his love of diving, and the scene in which he and Callie go snorkeling--and the most fitting lines are:
come on down to the bottom of the sea
come on down here
yeah there's room right next to me
i'm tired of getting even
let’s get odd odd
and live life at the bottom of the sea
The last song on the soundtrack is one I stumbled on one day while listening to Pandora and I thought it was just so right for the ending of the book. We leave Callie on a hopeful note, but nothing is tied up neatly and I think these words nail it:
We are words
On pages that we've left unturned
An ending no one's ever heard
We are a story slowly unfolding
Beautiful words
Jen: Since you brought up the ending, I'll say I thought it was perfect -- it was true to the story, it was hopeful, and it nudged the main characters in the direction I thought they needed. Did you have any doubts about ending the story this way?

Trish: I didn’t have doubts that the book needed to end the way it does, but I had so many moments when I didn’t want it to end this way. I turned it over and over in my mind, trying to find a way to give the ending more happily ever after, but life is messy and sometimes hope is what you get. And to end it any other way wouldn’t have felt right.

To listen to Trish's playlist for the book, click on the Spotify icon below:

You can connect with Trish here: Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook | website | blog.


  1. I loved the character of Ariel too-she was so funny and I loved how she was helping Callie!

  2. Feral that! I haven't read this one yet, but I really want to know! It's really awesome to hear the behind-the-scenes story to the book too. Great interview!

  3. One of the best things in this book was the settting- such a pity I didn't like the characters, I see that they have fantastic potential!

    Fab interivew, ladies! <33

  4. I loved. Something like normal. Cute interview

  5. Great interview! I'm definitely going to be checking out the playlist. I'm so looking forward to reading this book! I liked what she said about the ending of the book too :-)

  6. Awesome interview! I wish I could have met her. She was ATBF this weekend :/

  7. Thanks for the great interview! Where The Stars Still Shine definitely should be added to my reading list-love the setting and the sound of Callie's character (and Ariel too.)

  8. I LOVE THIS. If I wasn't already a die hard Trish Doller fan this would clench it! And her thoughts one the ending! I already knew a little bit of that from my tweets to her but she really sums it up SO beautifully. Love this! Great interview Jen and Trish!!

  9. Thanks for hosting this interview! I'm so excited to read this book and I'm excited that you thought the ending was perfect and enjoyed Doller's research comments.

  10. I'm really excited to read this. I loved her first book and I love the cover! Fantastic interview, I'm even more excited to read it!

  11. People-watching is one of the best ways to absorb a city, and I loved the sense of time and place we get from WTSSS. Thanks for this interview, ladies!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  12. She was a great part of the book!

  13. I think it's so cool that just hanging out in the neighborhood and soaking up the local people and culture inspired this book. Love the playlist, there are some really beautiful songs on there. Thanks for sharing!

  14. This is such a lovely, thoughtful interview, Jen! I didn't start this one for so long because I was worried about the ending, but I agree, I thought it was perfect for these characters. It felt right, but also very hopeful. I also love those songs listed. You always come up with the best questions.

  15. I absolutely loved this book! Memorable characters and so different from the usual fare I've been reading. Thanks for sharing, ladies. :)


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