Author: Liz Gruder
Publisher: WiDo Publishing
Published: February 2013
Starseed concerns a sixteen-year-old girl who falls in love with a starseed boy who reveals that she, too, is half extraterrestrial, and is forced to choose her allegiance between Earth and her star family.
Kaila Guidry has always known she is different. When she meets Jordyn Stryker at school, she finds out just how different.
Jordyn was born and raised far from Earth, a starseed, one of six new students sent to Louisiana's Bush High to learn human ways. But Jordyn didn't count on meeting someone like Kaila.
When Kaila is pushed to her limit by high school bullying and cruelty, Jordyn awakens her to a new reality—and to love. But to prove herself, Kaila must look the other way as the real purposes of the starseeds unfold.
As the horrific plan behind the starseed visit to Earth moves inexorably forward, Kaila and Jordan, caught in an impossible love, must determine where their true loyalties lie.
Working Modern Day Topics (bullying) into a Sci-fi Setting by Liz Gruder
I set Starseed on Earth, taking place in high school, because when reading science fiction, it’s important to relate to the situation and characters. It’s also why I had the protagonist, Kaila Guidry, who is half-human and half-extraterrestrial, raised in Louisiana and unaware of her ET origins. Yet, from chapter one, it’s apparent to the reader that Kaila is different and has heightened abilities such as telepathy, as she can communicate with her dogs and receives a vision of her mother’s abduction with the aliens. The reader has a sense when Kaila rebels from homeschooling to go to school, that there will be problems. This is a science-fiction set-up for a real-life situation of bullying.
When I was in elementary school there was this boy who was overweight and stuttered. People made brutal fun of him. We had to give others a valentine and he tried to give me a heart necklace. He got so red and he stuttered “I-I-I” … He could not speak. I took the necklace and thanked him. He couldn’t look me in the eye and finally ran away, leaving the bullies to open prey. His discomfort stayed with me to this day.
When I asked my daughter about the worst bullying she’d seen in school, she told of a girl who had a "secret" crush on the quarterback. In our town, it’s a custom that players can get on the loudspeaker and make announcements if they win a game. The quarterback got on the loudspeaker and announced to the whole stadium that he knew this girl had a huge crush on him, but that she was the biggest LOSER and he wouldn't be caught dead with such a NERD and she should just DIE.”
I couldn’t imagine a worse public humiliation—being attacked in front of a packed football stadium. I used that scene in Starseed. So imagine being telepathic and an empath--to feel what another feels. Imagine that this girl is someone you know from your physics class and she’s sitting behind you while the quarterback calls her a LOSER and to DIE. What would you feel?
Though it’s not fair or right, we see people judged on how they look, how they’re dressed, how they think, what they believe. If you fall out of the mainstream notions of looks, interests or beliefs, you can subject yourself to ridicule—and there is nowhere this is more true than high school.
Kaila is a normal sixteen-year-old in that she wants to have friends and know what group she fits in. When she understands she is half human AND half extraterrestrial, this not knowing where she belongs grows worse. There’s this mentality that we have to have a “group” because that defines us, and gives a sense of security. That’s why I made Kaila’s friends, Melissa and Pia, as saying they are “undefinables” because they can hang with every group.
When Kaila goes to school, she meets Jordyn Stryker, who is a hybrid too, but he is part of a “hive” who was raised far from Earth. It’s not hard to imagine how he and his fellow aliens would view the school “groups” and bullying. But even within the alien students, there are differences and disagreements. Isn’t it alien bullying if you judge human students as primitive animals that you can rip out of their beds at night and do mind control experiments on them like lab rats?
I don’t take the stance that the aliens are either all good or all bad—there are both in Starseed. So by using this idea that we all judge each other, I believe it’s our task to soften our belief systems and open our hearts to create a more loving world—and universe. Without it, we can never hope for peace. And certainly not first contact. We’d likely bully the aliens away, calling them LOSERS, because they don’t look or believe like us.
Author Liz Gruder
As a youth, Liz Gruder saw a series of UFOs with her best friend while riding bikes. Ever since, she’s held a fascination for the stars. An avid reader, she used to hide under her covers and read with a flashlight. She has degrees in English and Psychology from Tulane University, a nursing license and a yoga certification. After going through Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Liz realized how short life is and is now slowly fulfilling her bucket list: she’s been to the Egyptian pyramids (totally awesome and thought provoking) and is now teaching yoga and writing speculative fiction. Starseed is her debut novel.
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