Photos v. Imagination

I was always against posting pictures of my characters. I even fought my poor US editor about putting Helen’s face on the cover of my books. I argued that no two people have the same definition for the most beautiful face in the world, and that putting pictures of a girl on the cover would actually be detrimental to the book and to young women. What if a young woman picks up the book, looks at the cover, and says to herself, “well, I look nothing like her. I’m not white, or blonde, and I don’t have her eyes. Does that mean I’m not beautiful?”

No. It really doesn’t.

So I put up quite a stink. And, since Harper Teen just wants to make me happy, they let me have my way. And then they showed me the cover for DREAMLESS and I could see the model’s face. I fussed and fretted and told them to put her face (as lovely as it was) in shadow. And they let me have my way again. Thanks, Babs!

Then I got amnesia. Maybe I was kicked in the head by donkey and my husband decided not to mention it to me for nefarious “it’s your turn to clean the litter box” reasons, but somewhere along the way, I forgot why I fought having a face on the cover—and why I’ve decided to wait on going forward with any talk of a film until all three books are out. For whatever reason, I changed my mind and decided that posting pictures of my idea of the cast would be a great way to lead into the release of DREAMLESS. But sadly, I’m sensing that some of you, my dear StarHearts, are disappointed because my choices don’t match up to the images that you have in your heads.

Sometimes a picture isn’t worth thousand words.

Books are just words. There are no special effects or booming soundtracks. But books are awesome. They are awesome because they live inside our heads and inside our hearts. When we read we build worlds inside of ourselves, and every aspect of that world is so personal, and (if the book really touches us) every aspect of it is so intensely precious that we HATE it when someone comes along and messes with our beautiful world in any way. Even, and maybe more so, when the author comes along and tell us something different than what we expected.

Let me say this now. I’m not necessarily right about my interpretation. But you are. Your vision of the cast of characters is right, and there is nothing that I can post that will ever change that. Your cast is the right cast. Your vision of Helen’s bedroom is right. Your impression of the News Store is right. Your STARCROSSED is the right STARCROSSED—always and forever—because I wrote these books for you.

And if me posting pictures is ruining anyone’s experience, I’ll stop. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.  Should I keep posting, or not?

We’ll go from there. :)




  1. I love the pictures, sometimes I agree , and sometimes I pictured the character differently , but it’s okay! I love seeing the characters through he authors eye!

    Please keep posting them! :)

    • Delaney says:

      I think you should keep posting them because everyone is beautiful no matter what anyone says. And its fun to know what what you think the characters look like it makes us connect with you! And theres nothing any reader wnats more than to connect with author

  2. I for one am enjoying the cast pics, sure I’ve imagined the characters differently than the pics you’ve posted but seeing what they look like for you doesn’t detract from how I pictured them.

    keep it up! I want to see Lucas :-D

  3. Michelle says:

    I personally love seeing your pictures and the way you envision the characters. No, it may not be exactly the same as what I have in my head, but that’s okay. Books are all about interpretation and imagination, right?

  4. Hi Josie!

    We’ll, I don’t mind you’re posting pictures of your dream cast online. I mean for me e.g., I still have my own dream cast in my mind when I read your books! It’s your choice not ours and I don’t think when picturing our Dreamcast, it depends on your choices! So in my opinion it’s ok when you keep posting your pictures! :D

    • Hanna Blackcat says:

      well, I totally agree with Lillie;
      I love to see how the characters look in your mind, but i still make use of my own fantasy, when imagine the Characters :)
      so from my point of view: keep posting the pictures – i kind of enjoying it! :D

  5. Jennifer says:

    Don’t stop! I have my own idea, and no picture anyone puts up can change that. It’s actually fun and cool to see who YOU envisioned! Keep up the great work!

  6. Kaitlyn says:

    I think it’s really great that you care so much about your fans’ opinions. :) Personally, I would LOVE to see pictures! It would be very interesting to see your interpretation of the characters’ appearances. Please post!

  7. Sh'lette Smith says:

    I think you should keep posting pictures. I like knowing what kind of characters you have in mind for your books. It doesn’t bother me.

  8. I say keep posting pictures! It’s fun to see how different people picture fictional characters, especially when it’s the author who created the character in the first place. And if I don’t agree with you, I’ll just smile and nod and go back to the picture I had in my head when I was reading. :-)

  9. Nooooo please Josie, don’t stop posting your cast! It made me really happy to see how you imagined the people. And i’m so excited to see who is going to be Helen especially. I’ve been searching for model faces that are kind of unique (just for me, so i can imagine Helens face, it freaks me out if i can’t imagine ist my self, behause, like you said, there are so many ways of Beauty) since i read your books, but i always thought: Nooo… This is not really Helen… Or maybe yes?
    Confusing :D!!!
    And i really need a picture of her from your sight. Please give us the other ones too.
    I Love your Books :)! <3

  10. Desiree says:

    Please post more pics! I understand what you mean about people messing up with what you imagine when reading a book. But showing a photo of a person you think would be good for the part is not the same as casting a person for a movie and then having to watch a book you love come to life with an actress you hate. You post a photo and we will either agree or disagree. It’s fun to find out what is in other people’s head, especially yours! It all comes from you! So, please, don’t stop! On my end, even though the guy you saw as Hector is gorgeous, at the end of the day Kellan Lutz will play the part of Hector in my head. And I will love it!

  11. I think it’s so fun that you are doing this, and I’ve been checking your facebook page each day for the new picture. They don’t really change how I imagine your characters, they just add another (very good looking) dimension to the story you’ve created. I can’t get enough!

  12. i think it’s interesting to see how you thought about the characters and not just only our point of view. if anyone doesn’t like that photos, they should just ignore them because they can’t destroy our imagination about the characters. if these are right (for us), they will stay, if not, they will change.
    in my opiniion it’s a good thing what you’re doing, keep on with that ;)

  13. chantelle.donoghue says:

    i think u should keep posting and like u said every one has there own opinuion of the charecters and they are what u imagen the charecters to look like … :Dn

  14. hi Josie… its a very emotional Post you wrote there and yes everyone’s imagination is different and until a moving picture actually is done there will always be different interpretations of what should each character look like and who would be perfect to be the one to impersonate them on screen… you described the characters so well and it is easy to create a Face or a Look of them in mind, but its a whole different story finding actual living beings who have to full package… i think its important for us to see your style and your choices, even if we cant agree on every one off them… we fell in love with them and the stories about them. And with YOU!!! You are a great writer and the way you interact with your readers is world class. Dont feel discouraged posting more pics… i still hope IF you ever decide to let someone make your books into movies – aslong they keep as close to the story we will fall in love with who ever will play whom anyway its not the people we love its the story and your style bringing all together. We will support you and STARCROSSED in any way thats what Starhearts do!!! xxx ….

    P.S. Please come to europe soon :) (UK preferred most lol)

    Take care and keep doing what you do – as you do very well!!!

  15. Michelle says:

    I really think you should keep posting what you think the characters would look like, I really enjoy seeing what other people think the characters look like… I looked at what you already posted on Facebook and, of course, in my head they didn’t match up perfectly, but I was excited none-the-less to see what the authors opinion was. I did very much like the ones you chose, especially Hector :) I mean really, usually characters in my head are so unattainably magnificent that really, there will always be a level of disappointment… I think that is with everyone though, as you said everyone’s opinion of beauty is different… With you posting who you think is a good look-a-like is just your opinion, everyone has one, and that’s the beauty of books, we see them how we perceive what beautiful is… For example, Helen, she is suppose to be the most beautiful person, she has ‘The Face’… She is the exact opposite of me, looks-wise, and just because she has blonde hair and fairer skin than me doesn’t mean I am not beautiful because I do not look like her… Please don’t stop… I personally don’t think as a reader of your magnificent books, posting your opinion would change my opinion of what the characters look like to me… <3 You are amazing…

  16. Laura :) says:

    Hey Josie!
    I think your decision really true, I would have imagined such a different person than your Jason. But on the other hand, I think it is good to see such times, what kind of characters the author have imagine!
    I do not think that the trilogy-fans are very disappointed when you look at the different people imagine. I’d really like to know how do YOU imagine Lucas, Clair, Orion, Cassie, Matt and Helen, I’m really a very very big fan of your books (I red Göttlich-verdammt 33 times and the American book I read 4 times, the second book Göttlich-verloren I’ve red 9 times xD)!

    your Laura :)

    PS: Sorry for my bad english …. I’m from Germany …! ;)

  17. Christin says:

    I don’t think you should stop. I mean, you’re right that everybody has his/her unique visualization of the characters but imo that’s what makes seeing your choices so interesting. When reading a book, I’ve often wondered how the author him-/herself pictured certain characters, landscapes, etc., that’s why it’s pretty cool that you give us a glimpse of your mind. And personally, seeing your choices doesn’t affect MY way of imagining the characters. My effing hot Hector is still the same effing hot Hector he used to be the first time I read the book, just like with any other detail. People should either appreciate it or just ignore it if they think it’s intruding into their personal imagination ;D

  18. I don’t mind you posting photos of the characters.
    I actually think it’s interesting to see what pictures other people have of the characters in the book. Especially the writer herself. ;)
    For me, cast away!!

  19. Firstly I’d like to say that i LOVE Starcrossed and can’t wait for Dreamless to come out. Also I think that you posting up pictures is a great idea! I think that you are entitled to have your say in the image of the characters you created, us fans have had our chance to tell you who we think should play Helen and Lucas and who-ever else and now it’s your turn.Personally I imagined hector kind of hazy with-out a distinct face but now i have a clearer image of him and I really like that now I imagined the characters how you imagined them. Well..thats my opinion and I think that you should continue to keep posting pictures because well…because that’s what you want to do so do it!

  20. Courtney Pierce says:

    I think you should continue posting. I admit, I love how I picture the characters in my head and its great, but I would also love to see how you picture them. So, please continue posting. *<3

  21. Alannah says:

    I think that you should keep posting the pictures. I, personally, agree with your choices for them. And it’s cool to see how the author of the book imagines a character. I hope you keep posting! :D

  22. I love it! Keep going!

  23. Oh and maybe you can post a disclaimer so that those who don’t want to see it don’t have to peek :)

  24. I like seeing the pictures. I think it’s fun and it doesn’t ruin my idea of who the characters are when they look differently than I thought. I like your version of Hector better than my original one, but totally have a different idea for Ariadne. I’m ok with that. And I think it’s a fun game to see your ideas and makes me feel more connected to the story by seeing it through your eyes.

  25. Excellent post. And because of this, I am going to make Starcrossed/Dreamless my Make it a Movie Monday for the first week of June. That’s my meme where I cast the characters in my favorite books.

  26. Flavia Cerreto says:

    You can keep posing if you like, it won’t make me chance my mind.

  27. Hi!
    I thought it was fun when you posted the pictures of the characters, because I got to see how you picture the characters. But even though you’re the author of the books and you’re the one that created them, I still have my own pictures of them in my head. So I just loved to see how you picture the characters you’ve created, and compare to my own pictures. It didn’t ruin anything for me, it was just very interesting and fun!

    Hugs from Linnea in Sweden and LitteraLund! :D

  28. No, PLEASE keep posting the pictures! Whenever I read a book, I have to have a clear picture of what I want the characters to look like, so I’ll usually pick a picture offline like you’re doing and model them looking like that in my mind, with a few according variations like eye color, face shape, etc. (my Helen is Christina Agulilara, or at least her more natural looks in Burlesque) and it itrritates me when I can’t put a clear face to my characters in books, espcially my favorite ones like Starcrossed, so I think that this posting pictures thing is amazing. Plus, I LOVE how you’re using less-famous people. I’m sick of all of the dream casts on YouTube being full of Emma Roberts and Alex Pettyfer-esque actors.

  29. Its fun seeing what you visioned as the characters! Even though they dont match up to mine sometimes. I like that we can see it in other people’s way! It doesn’t change how i feel. So keep posting what you believe, ur not telling us how they look… just giving ur opinion. Plus people do it on you-tube all the time. I think its fun seeing other people opinions and comparing it to mine:)

  30. I think you summed up beautifully what I’ve never been able to explain to my non-reader friends when you stated:
    “Books are just words. There are no special effects or booming soundtracks. But books are awesome. They are awesome because they live inside our heads and inside our hearts. When we read we build worlds inside of ourselves, and every aspect of that world is so personal, and (if the book really touches us) every aspect of it is so intensely precious that we HATE it when someone comes along and messes with our beautiful world in any way.” <-though HATE is too strong a word

    I see YA books now that are being made into movies and 80% of me does NOT want to go and see them because they've altered the way I invisioned that world to be or the way that I've always pictured those characters to look.

    i.e., Hunger Games and the City of Bones casting I am, personally, not pleased with. It's taken away some of the magic of that world for me. While some parts and/or actors are great visually other aspects have tarnished my experience of what made those stories effect me on the level that they did.

    I am not judging you or putting down your choices or your workl in any way so please don't be hurt. I think you're a wonderful person and I love your work. It's because your books are so well written that there's no need to put a specific face to a name or setting. You've set it up so well that when I read it, it's like a movie playing in my mind. I don't have to struggle to put a face to a name. Like your writing, it comes seamlessly.

    That said, I know that a lot of readers and authors enjoy making a faux casting list and your books are too strong to be tarnished. I think you should follow your gut as to whether to continue posting pictures or not.


    • Josie Angelini says:

      Caila, I loved your post. Thank you so much for giving me such a thoughtful answer. It really means a lot to me.

      • Thank you for taking the time to respond, it was greatly appreciated. :)

        • I totally agree with the dislike of the City of Bones casting (among others). I think it does sort of take some of the shine of the image in your imagination because you can never really have two faces for the same person when you imagine them. But despite this seeing pictures is not always a bad thing and lets you see other interpretations and it doesn’t have to change how you picture them.
          I think it is really great that these posts are so personal and that people can express their opinions for other people to consider. Having very emotional posts shows how much everyone supports the books all the way<3 I love them xxx

  31. Hey Josie,

    As many have already said before me, you sum up so beautifully what books are all about.
    Words, awesome, personal, intensely precious, about interpretation.
    And while film is such a very different medium, in the day and age in which we live, it is fascinating, and fun, to see how our differing expectations of characters, in the visual form, match up.
    You are incredibly sweet to take so personally the concerns of some readers who may perhaps be a little sensitive to having their perfect mental image of certain characters challenged. I can fully understand why some may not want to see anything other than the perfect image they already have in their head. But heck – YOU’RE THE WRITER! YOU GET TO JOIN IN THE FUN TOO!

    You write a beautifully eloquent message to all the fans who love your characters, and it is so touching that you care so deeply about hurting feelings. I think it’s a tribute to your writing skills that you write so – cinematically – for want of a better word, that so many people can see so very clearly what their favourite characters look like.

    But please, don’t feel that you shouldn’t be able to say who YOU think the characters look like. Like so many have said – it’s all opinion, and it’s a free country. :-D

    S’all good! Big love!

  32. You fought against having pictures of your characters on the cover because you didn’t want the reader to be forced into seeing the characters, or beauty, in a certain way fore they have read the book.

    You are posting pics of what you imagine the cast of a DREAMLESS movie to be like, because you are revealing to readers how YOU imagine your characters. Chances are most people interested in movie picks have already read the books, and no picture you can post will affect their preconceived idea of what the characters look like.

    I don’t think it conflicts at all.

    Keep posting!


  33. Cassandra Armstrong says:

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT STOP POSTING THE PICTURES!!!!!! You are a 100% correct that no two people are going to have the same image of what these characters are going to look like, and that is ok. I want to know what YOU JOSEPHINE ANGELINI pictures her characters to look like. I have my own imagination of what each character looks like, and even if they don’t match your’s i’m ok with that. I hope you keep posting them because I think that is awesome. If anyone has a problem with you posting them then they shouldn’t visit your page until after dreamless comes out so those of us that do want to see who you choose can see them.

  34. Please keep posting :) i love your choices!

  35. Jodi Manweiler says:

    I enjoy seeing the pictures. I made up my mind the first time I read the book, what the characters looked like. I enjoy seeing how you envision them looking since it was your words that inspired my images of them. It shows just how different every bodies idea of beauty is.

  36. Keep it up! Sometimes the character’s actions and emotions make more sense when you can see what the author intended.

  37. It’s actually amazing to see how other people imagine the cast. I have my own vision, but I always found it interesting to exchange this kind of information. And I find it even more interesting if it’s the author’s view! I think it doesn’t really matter if your view as the author varietes from my view. Everyone can imagine things differently, and that’s one of the great things about reading: it gives you the freedom to creat things by your own thoughts and imagination. So, I would tell you to keep posting the pictures but I think you should decide yourself what you want to do, if you feel comfortable by posting them or not.

  38. aww please don’t stop! I enjoy seeing the pictures you post and even if it isn’t the same as the cast in my head, it’s always nice to see how the author themselves saw their characters. I personally believe no one else is bothered by this either especially since the actors/people you’re choosing in pictures aren’t exactly super famous so it kind of guides people like myself to see a more accurate person out there to fit the character we love c:

  39. Natasha Y. says:

    I love seeing the pictures. My imagination isn’t that spectacular, so any help it can get is great! I always like to see how the author pictures their characters. Even if the person doesn’t fit with what I see, it doesn’t mean it changes the character in my head. I say keep going! :)

    • Josie Angelini says:

      Natasha, anyone who reads and uses words like “spectacular” has a GREAT imagination, as far as I’m concerned. Don’t short change yourself. You are an important part of this dialogue, and your opinion has value. Especially to me. :)

  40. I think it’s almost completely unanimous, we want you to keep posting pics! ;) Personally, I love seeing who you pick to be the characters! Your post was beautiful by the way! :)

  41. Keep posting I love seeing what others esp the author pictures the character as. I have a very powerful imigination pictures are not going to ruin that, might enhance but never ruin ;-)

  42. Kristen H says:

    I think that you should continue to post them. Each person will always have in their minds what they should look like…but that doesn’t mean that I am not interested in how you think they look! I think it is such a fun idea and if certain people don’t want to see them then they shouldn’t look ;) Oh and props to you for consulting your fan base you are one smart lady! So looking forward to dreamless and patiently awaiting (hopefully) your next picture! I cannot wait to see LUCAS…**sigh**

  43. DONT STOP!! no matter what people are saying dont stop! everyone has a different opinion of what characters should look like but as you said it’s our own imagination that allows us to truely connect with a book.

    Ask people what they think of Bella (Twilight series) and I bet you anything a majority of people hate the casting choice that was made. Kristen Stewart is no where near what i imagined Bella to look like or behave for that matter. Heck, what little fans he had in the books she lost when the movies came out. Kristen Stewart killed Bella’s character. Bella may have been vulnerable in the books, but once the movies came out Kristen Stewart made Bella seem like some little girl who depends on everyone around her. Kristen made it seem like Bella couldnt even sneeze without Edward being there, tissue in hand. But thats okay because we still have our imagination and its safe to say your fans love your characters regardless of what you pictured them to be.

    So please dont stop, i love seeing who you imagine as your characters. Its beautiful becuase it lets us connect more with them.

    xoox Nas.

  44. Josie Angelini says:

    I just want to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who took the time to connect with me today. It’s been a really emotional week for me, and reading all of your heart-felt posts has meant more than I can say. It might seem like such a small thing, wondering if posting pictures is the right thing to do or not, but it really does matter. I’ve read every single one of your posts, by the way, and all the support you’ve given me, all the encouragement to speak my mind, has helped me through a very trying time in my life. I am incredibly anxious about the release–both in the US and abroad. I feel like there is an enormous amount of pressure on me to do everything right, and I’ve been second-guessing myself at every turn. Hearing from all of you, and hearing that you value my opinion, has strengthened me. I haven’t been able to answer all of you individually because this is such a crunch time for me both here, in Germany, in the UK, and in Spain, and for that I apologize. Please know that even if I didn’t respond to you personally, I read your post. But even if I didn’t answer all of you, please understand that I cherish your input. You are the reason I am doing this. You are the chorus of support that keeps this ball rolling. Thank you all.

  45. i think that you should totally keep posting the pictures,because besides you wrote the book for us because we want to seee how you think the characters look like, because you created them, you had every right to post whatever you want about them.

  46. Josie, I am loving the pictures you have posted for your dream cast and I think they are perfect!

    I would LOVE it if your book series became a movie. It is so amazing and to see it brought to life would probably be the best thing EVER!!

    I’m SO excited to get my hands on Dreamless in a few days (even though I put myself on a book buying ban)… I have to have your next book!!! :D

    Keep up the amazing work!!!

  47. I love seeing the characters as you imagine them. Please keep posting pics!

  48. I’m very bad with imagining faces, even for stories I write. So it’s nice to see an author’s conception of the characters.

  49. Chandni says:

    I honestly think you should keep on posting … i enjoy seeing what you think the characters look like.. it helps me imagine them better …

  50. Victoria Hicks says:

    Loving the pics, keep them coming!
    I agree that each person sees the characters differently in their mind but personally i like seeing them from the authors point of view. This is how you imagined them when you were writting them and without that base the rest of us wouldn’t have them either.
    So far all the pics you have posted match up with what i see in my head when i read about them. Can’t wait for Dreamless, although it sucks that it’s not out in the UK until 5th July :-(

  51. Angie N. says:

    I absolutely love to see the way the characters look in your mind! Keep the pictures coming! But, one of the things i love the most about books is that you can paint a picture in your own mind of what you want the person to look like. I’m not even one of those people that picks out a dream cast using real actors and actresses. I really really hope your books are made into movies though! I want to see it brought to life and i just hope the way the movie looks is exactly like you pictured it!

  52. Sorry, i know that`s stupid but i’m german and maybe i didn’t saw it in text so: where are these pictures? Maybe my computer can’t show them but i can’t see it. Thanks for help.

  53. Silvia Donaire says:

    Creo que no debería dejar de mostrar fotos acerca de como son los personajes para usted. Por favor no pare, porque aunque tengamos nuestras propias ideas la creadora es usted y me encanta ver como se imagina a los personajes, me ayuda a visualizarlo en mi cabeza. Pero también estoy de acuerdo en que usted describió todos los detalles tan bien, que en lo que a mi respecta no me hace falta una película (aunque he de admitir que me haría mucha ilusión poder verla) porque a medida que iba leyendo el libro todo iba surgiendo en mi mente. Y la descripción de lo que es la lectura es tan acertada que solo eso demuestra que es una escritora increíble, aunque eso ya se puede observar con predestinados y sin sueños. MUCHO ÁNIMO, continúe adelante aunque se sienta desbordada, piense en qué habría pasado si helena se hubiese dado por vencida en su tarea en el submundo?
    Un besazo Josephine ¡¡

  54. Could anybody please give me the link to see this “cast”? Can’t find it!

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