How does one end up writing a book about a star child? For that matter, what is a star child?
Author Kay Goldstein was wondering the same thing a few years ago when she started writing the first pages of her newly released novel, Star Child, a process which caused her to delve into the depths of human experience.
The result is a delightful 80-page book, which tells the story of two celestial beings and their travels through human society. It’s a cyclical coming-of-age story that will appeal to adults, teenagers and preteens alike. The plot sustains the reader’s interest, and the characters’ weighty introspections convey a sense of comfort to the reader.
“I think a lot of teenage fantasy books are anxiety-producing, about vampires... and life or death situations,” Ms. Goldstein said. “This has a lot more to do with acceptance... to be comfortable with where things are and to be able to move on.”
Star Child tells the story of Terra and Marius, two star children who make their way to earth and begin integrating themselves into human society. Terra and Marius shed their bright star garments to clothe themselves as humans and, unnamed up to this point in the story, assume human names. Along the way, they learn how to trust themselves and their own feelings, as well as their relationships with others.
Star Child is Ms. Goldstein’s first fiction book. In the past she has published cookbooks and poetry.
“I didn’t even think of it as a novel,” she said. “It was more like, here are these characters, what can I do with them?”
The inspiration for the story came “totally out of the blue,” Ms. Goldstein said. While driving home from her writing workshop located on South Road in Chilmark, she was thinking about the fiction writers in the group.
“I thought, that’s interesting, to write fiction,” she recalled. Ms. Goldstein used to write stories as a child, but had stuck to nonfiction and poetry during her writing career. As soon as she came up with the idea of a creature born from a piece of a star, she started asking questions about the star child.
“I started thinking, what was a star child? What would they do when they got here? It taught me to trust the creative process in a way that I’d never done before.” She imagined that Terra was born in the field at Allen Farm in Chilmark.
The story’s language conforms to a quaint, almost old-fashioned language Ms. Goldstein hadn’t worked with before. “It taught me to trust my characters and my own intuition... my own writing,” she said. When Terra is born, Ms. Goldstein meticulously describes the scene with flowery yet simple language. “The amber of the sun’s bright globe painting her face and arms; the taste of lavender in the air slipping past her lips and melting on her tongue,” she writes.
Star Child is published by Vineyard Stories, but unlike the majority of the books published by the Edgartown-based company, the words “Martha’s Vineyard” are not used to market the book. The story could take place in any seaside village. But the Island seeped into the writing in many places, Ms. Goldstein said. She’s been coming here regularly for 22 years.
“Part of it is so connected to this Island... It pervades all of the words. I am so overwhelmed by the energy and spirit of the Island.”
Part of the challenge of marketing her book is communicating to buyers what kind of book they are buying. “I do have to help people understand,” Ms. Goldstein said. When she tells them it is similar to the Alchemist and the Little Prince, they understand better.
“It’s a book that’s going to find its way on its own,” she said. “I’m letting it show me what to do next.” She refers to the book as a fairytale, an allegory and a love story — it’s the type of book that crosses terminological boundaries effortlessly. The characters’ lack of demographic descriptors only contributes to their universality, and the ease with which the reader engages with their story.
Unlike her nonfiction writing endeavors, the evolution of which she felt she controlled, Star Child seemed to have a life of its own.
“There were times when someone would tell me a story or a dream, and I’d say, ‘oh, that’s where Marius was born, that’s where he came from.’ Pieces of my life and pieces of [the lives of] people I know were all woven into this book.”
The book is especially comforting for young readers. “It’s really about self-acceptance and having compassion for yourself... It’s inspirational but it’s not religious. It’s spiritual but it doesn’t have a particular dogma.”
Author Kay Goldstein will sign copies of Star Child at two events this week. On Saturday, August 11, from 10 to 11 a.m. she will be at the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in Vineyard Haven, and on Tuesday, August 14, at 4:30 p.m. she will be at 8 Wauwompauque Trail in Chilmark, off North Abel’s Hill Road.