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.
Are You a Mammal or a Reptile?
When I was twelve years old, I had a terrible crush on Johnny. I passed him a secret note declaring my passion. As I walked home from school with my friends, Johnny stood across the street with several of his friends.
“Nice try, Liz!” he called, as he held up my note. All his friends clustered around Johnny reading the note. Then, they pointed and laughed at me.
My face burned as Johnny read my note aloud. “I really like you Johnny,” he jeered. OMG, I couldn’t hear what my friends were saying. The sidewalk rushed up to me and time stopped.
Of course, it was all over school the next day how I crushed on Johnny and how he publically shot me down. Yet, the worst humiliation I ever heard was a story my daughter told when I asked her to describe the meanest moments she’d witnessed in school.
She told of a friend, Melissa, who crushed on the quarterback. At Covington High in Louisiana, they had a practice of allowing football players make announcements on the PA loudspeakers after a winning game. The quarterback got on the speakers and announced to the whole stadium: “Hey, Melissa. I heard you have a huge crush on me. Well you’re a LOSER and I wouldn’t ever be seen with a stupid nerd like you. Why don’t you just go crawl off and DIE?”
When I heard this story, I re-lived hot cheeks, the ground rushing up and the freezing of time. I imagined how it felt to be publically shamed in front of everyone in the town. Loud, echoing words over an entire stadium stating that you are a LOSER.
When I wrote Starseed, a story about a sixteen-year-old girl who is half-human, half-extraterrestrial, I imagined Kaila telepathically experiencing this girl’s humiliation. All I had to do was to put Johnny on the loudspeaker. So I used both real-life events in Starseed. In fact, most of the bullying events in Starseed are based on real-life stories. Why make up cruelty when there’s so much around in real life?
Years ago, I had a boyfriend who said that humans were either mammals or reptiles. “There’s people who just are cold blooded,” he said. “Just like reptiles.”
So when on facebook, do you chime in on cyber-attacks? Do you maliciously gossip about others? Are you secretly happy when you see someone fail or hurt? When you see someone being attacked, do you think they deserved? Do you publically spout hatred for any group or individual? Are you one of those hateful commenters on yahoo news stories no matter what the story?
Sadly, there’s a little reptile in all of us.
When I wrote Starseed, I didn’t want the humans or the aliens to be all good or all bad. Most creatures have shades of light and dark within. Like Kaila in Starseed, we are hybrids—displaying both reptilian and mammalian sentiments.
For a singular bullying at school transgresses to a larger bullying in the world where we hate and fight each other because of our differences—or perceived weaknesses. I’d be proud if when the aliens look at us, that we harnessed our warmer-blooded side and showed them a species at peace, able to live with each other without constant conflict and bullying.
I suppose the first step is to recognize the reptilian bully that slithers within and to silence that creature. We all like to believe that bullies and bad guys are everyone else.
But sadly, sometimes, it’s there, with each hateful word, staring us right in the mirror.
As for Johnny, he probably doesn’t recall shaming me or that I even exist. But I do hope he’s grown up to be a loving person toward his family, himself and our world. Because to love one another, no matter how different we are from each other, is what life—and Starseed—is really about.
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.
“After reading Starseed, my faith in YA sci-fi has been restored! … I didn’t want to put it down … it had enough mystery and suspense to keep me going, page after page. Superb job 4.5 out of 5!”
— The Forbidden Library Book Reviews
“I would recommend this book to all sci-fi lovers and, to those who aren’t into it, take a chance. Who knows? You may love this book just as much as I did! Liz Gruder is definitely an author you should keep a look out for as she has great talent in writing and a huge imagination. Starseed was a wonderful read and very different from other books I’ve read. It was a very nice change from what I usually read and kept me enticed all the way.”
–Starlight Book Reviews
“Interesting read. A lot like Roswell, but different. Gruder does a great job building the dark mystery of what the aliens are really up to on earth.”
–Charity Bradford, sci-fi author, “The Magic Wakes”
“The story caught me off guard and won me over after the first chapter. The main conflict is a personal one for Kalia. Will she embrace her alien side or continue life as a human?”
–Pixie Dust Book Reviews
Starseed is a fun sci-fi read with romance. It brings light to the cliques of high school, and challenges the main character, Kaila, to be herself, instead of how others expect her to be.
–Kerri Cuevas, YA Author “Deadly Kisses”
“Liz Gruder’s characters come alive through youthful, spunky narrative, and her headstrong heroine, Kaila Guidry, elicits a reader’s encouragement from the first page. Fans of P.C. Cast will find themselves similarly transported into Gruder’s exploration of the dark sides of faith, love, higher dimensions, and, of course, high school.”
— Jadie Jones, YA author “Moonlit”
Blog Tour Giveaway
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