Today, 9781595147400_ZodiacI’m excited to chat with fellow author Romina Russell about her debut YA science fiction novel ZODIAC. Before we get to the questions, here’s more about the book:

At the dawn of time, there were 13 Houses in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now only 12 remain….

In a galaxy where your astrological sign determines which planet you call home, Rho, the 16-year-old Guardian of House Cancer, must find a way to unite the divided worlds of the ZODIAC before an ancient evil once believed to be mere myth returns to destroy them all. Embark on a dazzling journey with ZODIAC, the first novel in an epic sci-fi-meets-high-fantasy series set in Space that combines astrology, romance, and adventure!

Goodreads / Author WebsiteZODIAC Website / Twitter /Tumblr / Instagram / Author Facebook / ZODIAC Facebook 

Now to the questions! You created a world where your characters are (at least partly) defined by their Zodiac house. What made you decide that your main character Rho would be a Cancrian? Did you toy with the idea of giving her a different house or was she always firmly a crab?

What was awesome about creating the worlds of the Zodiac Universe was having a cheat sheet: I basically took the traditional horoscopes for each astrological sign and built out planets populated with people that fit each personality type. As for Rho being Cancrian, I was curious to explore the kind of hero whose strength was in her heart and not her body. I wanted to take a girl who wasn’t a traditional warrior and discover what weapon she would use to fight a war. I wondered how she would save the world(s)…and whether or not she could.

Hysan was one of my favorite characters.  When I mentioned ZODIAC on twitter, people immediately chimed in with “He’s our man!”.  He seems popular. Do you think Librans are just generally attractive or is there something special about Hysan?

Thank you! Yes, I’ve witnessed some Team Hysan v Team Mathias throw-downs on Twitter and thoroughly, evilly enjoyed myself. I know the proper book-parent thing to say is probably “I don’t have a favorite,” but I totally do secretly Ship a Ship in this series. (I’m a YA fangirl first, author second!)

Speaking specifically of Hysan, I think part of his appeal is certainly his Libran nature—after all, they’re the most charming and graceful creatures of the ZODIAC. Not to mention that House Libra’s number one focus is on education, so Librans are often more worldly and open-minded than others, making them amazing friends. Yet in Hysan’s case, he’s not the typical Libran, just as Rho isn’t your average Cancrian.

Hysan is fun because he hasn’t been raised by humans (I’m trying to avoid spoilers, but this sounds weird, I know!), and his whole life, he’s had to work harder than everyone else at simply putting up the façade of being normal—he fakes his parents, his identity, his averageness (a genius masquerading as an average guy). So I think there’s just a really intriguing element to his character that makes Rho (and hopefully at least a few readers) want to learn more about him.

Which we will in book two….

Being a debut author is such an exciting experience. What has been the most thrilling part of the experience so far? What has been the most surprising?

I thought the most thrilling part of being an author was writing the worlds of ZODIAC, until I held the published book in my fingers and had the chance to hand copies to my family—even my grandparents in Argentina—realizing a dream I’d been journeying toward since age nine.

Then the book went on sale. And holy crap, I had no idea how much better this ride could get.

I’ve been having the absolute time of my life getting to know ZODIAC’s readers on Twitter and Instagram and so on. I’m kind of a social hermit, so I had no idea how amazingly cool it would be to actually invite people over to hear the made-up stories in my head rather than guarding them fearsomely. The readers I’ve been talking to have blown me away with their insights and kindness and enthusiasm and theories and all-around YA scholarship…it’s also nice to get the chance to fangirl over all my favorite series with these bookish new friends.

This whole experience has helped me open up as a person and face some of my deepest fears (my first time public speaking happened this summer at Comic Con!), and I’m so, so, SO grateful for this opportunity…and I can’t wait to continue growing and evolving with Rho.

Finally, as this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you are afraid of and something you are not afraid of.

I’m afraid of ignorance, and I’m not afraid to be alone. Thank you for this awesome interview—I ❤ being a Fearless Fifteener.


Romina Russell (pen name for Romina Garber) is a Los Angeles based author who originally hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a teen, Romina 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 the ZODIAC series, Romina 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.



Laurie McKay is an author and biology instructor who lives in Durham, NC. When she’s not working, she spends time with her family and her two elderly dogs. You can find out more and see pictures of her dogs at or by following her on twitter. Her debut MG fantasy novel, VILLAIN KEEPER, will be available from HarperCollins on Feb 3rd, 2015.

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