Paper Stars is an original literary fiction creative project. It took the entirety of the 2022-2023 academic year to complete. It is a story that deals with love, loss, female identity, and trauma by following the protagonist, a young woman named Marty Fallaway. The final product was well over 300 pages. Extensive research on the stages of grief and the psychology of denial was done in order to accurately depict the experiences of the characters. The town in which the narrative is set is technically fictional but is an amalgamation of small towns across Utah and the red sands act as the backdrop.
The following blurbs were offered by individuals who witnessed the project in its development:
"Gillian Ruppel's debut novel Paper Stars is a masterfully crafted story of loss and grief under the watchful eyes of a small town. Her writing is lyrical and heartfelt, and it is a story about friendship and love that will move you to tears."
- Katie Sanyal, author of Lady of the House
"Gillian Ruppel's novel first novel Paper Stars examines loss in breathtaking realness while keeping readers hooked with the small-town mystery that leaves you wanting more. Ruppel never fails to capture the raw emotions of her characters, putting you in the shoes that walk the small-town streets of Aspen Grove."
- Sophia Burkemo, author of Scene of the Crime
"Gillian Ruppel's first novel Paper Stars is a story about tragedy. Her novel will have you on the edge of your seat begging for more. Her tragic story about a death of a friend and how the main character overcomes grief is one you will not want to miss. Emotional and powerful writing all round wishing you could help her solve the mystery in a small town."
- Nayla Rodriguez, author of From the Desert to the Mountains"