No one does family drama quite like Egyptian gods. In Kiersten White’s The Chaos of Stars, Isadora, the daughter of Isis and Osiris, knows this better than anyone. Never getting along with her immortal family members, Isadora jumps at an opportunity to move to California with her brother. But she soon learns that escaping your family is not as easy as it seems. In this interview, White, whose latest book Perfect Lies has just been released, discusses Egyptian myths, the struggles of being a teenager, and the importance of stars.
Bookish: In The Chaos of Stars, Isadora is the daughter of Isis and Osiris, major gods of Egyptian mythology. What inspired you to take these old stories and adapt them to modern times?
Kiersten White: I’ve always been fascinated by Egyptian mythology. It’s so blunt and straightforward about the things that make people tick, and the family drama is surpassed by none (not even you Greeks, sorry). The first book I ever wrote (a middle grade that will, thankfully, never be published) was actually set in ancient Egypt. So, when I wanted to write a family drama with an element of mythology, Egyptian was the most natural choice.
Bookish: Stars play a major role in this book. Isadora dreams about them, feels connected to them, and is calmed by them. What drew you to the stars?
Kiersten White: Like most mythologies, Egyptian mythologies involve a lot of stars. But what’s fascinating about stars is, even though they’re impossibly far removed from us, we can all look at them and feel bigger and smaller at the same time. That, to me, is a very teen-centric theme: that push and pull against potential—what we could be, and reality—what we are now.
B: Do you have a favorite constellation?
KW: My favorite constellation is, unsurprisingly, Orion. In fact, when I’d try to quit writing this book because it just wasn’t working, I’d see Orion out my big window and feel guilty for abandoning him.
B: Isadora has a difficult time with love, as most teenagers do. Do you have any personal tales of teenage love?
KW: Actually, my biggest tale of teenage love is when I met a guy at eighteen and then married him at nineteen. Twelve years and three kids later, I can happily credit teen-me with having incredible taste.
B: What advice would you give angsty teens now that you’re happily past it all?
KW: That might be why I don’t have any problems writing big romances for teenagers. Sometimes those overwhelming, first feelings can last a lifetime. And sometimes they don’t, which is okay, too. I think the thing teens need to remember is that you have to have your biggest, best love story with yourself. Once that’s in place, you have room to love someone else and let them love you, too.
B: You have said The Chaos of Stars is a stand-alone novel. Do you think you will ever change your mind and return to the world of Isadora?
KW: I initially plotted Chaos to be a trilogy, but really struggled because the book felt like it needed to be more intimately plotted than a trilogy would require. In the end, Isadora’s emotional journey was completed in one book. So, even though I had some plot ideas for further stories, there really was no reason to tell them.
B: Would you consider writing books that involve the other great mythologies, like Greek or Nordic?
KW: I do really love playing with mythological elements, but I feel like Greek is done so often (and so well) that I would probably rather go with Eastern mythologies than another European variety. That said, I have no plans at the moment for more mythology-influenced books.
B: Do you have a favorite indie bookstore?
KW: I really love The King’s English, in Salt Lake City. They’ve supported my books from the very start, and are a great part of the community.
Kiersten White is the New York Times bestselling author of the Paranormalcy trilogy, Mind Games, and The Chaos of Stars. Although originally meant to be about a femme fatale, the Mind Gamesseries quickly turned into a story about two sisters and impossible choices. This may be because Kiersten has three sisters, none of whom she has killed for, but all of whom she has considered killing at one point or another. Kiersten lives with her family near San Diego, California.