Thursday, January 21, 2016

"Wandering Star"

Romina Russell (AKA Romina Garber) is a Los Angeles based YA author who originally hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a teen, Garber landed her first writing gig—College She Wrote, a weekly Sunday column for the Miami Herald that was later picked up for national syndication—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. When she’s not working on a YA novel, Garber can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.

Russell applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Wandering Star, and reported the following:
Page 69:
I nod as I scour all the activity blooming around me. Metallic-bodied androids bustle alongside dark-haired Sagittarians in the crowds, and though I don’t see any names on the piles of pathways, everyone seems to know where they’re going. High above us is a different picture altogether.

Rows of traffic ripple the sky as vehicles imported from all over the Zodiac and spanning every time period stop at holographic traffic lights, waiting. Whenever a green light blinks on, the next vehicle shoots off. They fly so fast they vanish from view almost immediately. Sagittarians may sometimes wander on the ground, but in the air they’re like arrows: When they pick a mark, they hit it.

Nishi and Deke lead us down one of the wider pathways, past a display of decorative centaur sculptures and shops with names like Robotic Reset (a spa for androids), Startastic Tastings (a market with foreign foods from across the galaxy), and Absolutely Abyssthe (the Sagittarian economy is export-based, and Abyssthe makes up 95 percent of the exports).

Every few minutes, we come across another overstuffed souvenir station—tents filled with strange trinkets and gadgets that span everything from antiquated technologies to innovative inventions. Nishi told me Sagittarians like to collect tokens from their travels and often donate them to their city to share their curiosities with their neighbors. But today’s wanderers are hurrying up and down the street with purpose, too preoccupied to pay the stations any attention. The mood is as grim as the leaden sky.

Our pathway weaves around a triangular hotel and past an arrow-shaped archery supply store. Holographic graffiti covers the structures’ surfaces, and my gaze darts in every direction to take it all in. I think I glimpse a girl’s face drawn onto the archery store’s wall, but when I look back we’ve already turned the corner. I’m probably just seeing things, but she looked just like me.
Page 69 is such a perfect taste of the Zodiac series that it’s actually the scene I chose to read at Wandering Star’s launch! At this point, Rho and her friends have just landed on planet Centaurion of the Archer constellation, and they’re getting their first glimpse of House Sagittarius’s curiosities (in the Zodiac Galaxy, each sign represents a different survival skill, and Sagittarius’s is Curiosity). My favorite part of writing these books is the worldbuilding—I love imagining new societies and technologies and terrains and lifestyles and so on. Truth is, beyond being scifi/fantasy, to me the series is also a sociological exploration into a collection of cultures that should be working together but are thwarted by their prejudices and divided by their differences. If it sounds familiar, it should—the communities of our own world often forget that we’re part of a larger whole.
Visit Romina Russell's website.

--Marshal Zeringue