Genre: Retelling

Blog Tour: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter [Q&A]

Posted June 29, 2017 by Stephanie in Blog Tour, Interview / 0 Comments

Blog Tour: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter [Q&A]The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss
Published by Saga Press on June 20th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Historical, Retelling, Mystery
Pages: 416
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Based on some of literature’s horror and science fiction classics, this is the story of a remarkable group of women who come together to solve the mystery of a series of gruesome murders—and the bigger mystery of their own origins.
Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.
But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.
When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous.

Q&A

How did you come up with the idea behind The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter?

I’ve always loved Victorian gothic fiction, by which I mean books like Dracula, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Island of Dr.Moreau. I first came up with the idea for this novel while trying to finish a PhD in English literature, writing a doctoral dissertation that asked why there were so many stories about monsters published in 1870-1910, a period we call the fin-de-siecle. This is the period that gave us Count Dracula, Dr. Jekyll, the Beast Men of Dr. Moreau, the vampire Carmilla, and the Martians that invade in War of the Worlds. As I was studying these sorts of narratives, I noticed something strange: in many of them, a mad scientist tries to create a female monster. Sometimes he succeeds, sometimes he fails, but in the end the female monster almost always dies. And in most of these stories, she never even gets to speak before her inevitable demise. I started wondering why, and more importantly, I started feeling as though it just wasn’t fair. How come the Puma Woman in Island of Dr. Moreau never gets to say anything before she escapes, kills Moreau, and is herself killed? I mean, I want to hear from her . . . And that’s where the novel came from, that desire to hear what the female monsters have to say. Some of my characters also come from classic monster narratives published earlier in the century, but they are all the female monsters who didn’t get to tell their own stories–until now.

Were there other literary classics that you considered using? If so, why did you choose the ones you did?

Yes, there were, and some of those will appear in the sequel!  I chose which ones to include in the first novel because of the characters. For example, I’ve always been intrigued by Beatrice in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” in which Dr. Rappaccini raises his daughter in a poisonous garden so she becomes imbued with poison herself. I mean, wouldn’t you want to hear from her? And in the novel Frankenstein, Victor starts to create a female monster, but disassembles her and throws her body parts into the sea because he doesn’t want her mating with his male monster. It’s a powerful image: there he is, literally taking her apart, limb by limb. What I remember thinking, when I read that, is This is so unfair! Maybe she wouldn’t even have liked the male monster? Maybe she would have wanted something entirely different for herself? He never created her, so she could never tell us. I chose the characters I wanted to write about, the ones whose stories I wanted to tell. But some other classic monster narratives will appear in the second book.

Do you want to write more in this world?

Yes, absolutely! Writing about this world (imaginary late nineteenth-century London) was a real challenge, because I had to do a lot of research–I went to London twice, over two summers, and did a lot of reading as well as online research. There were days when I crawled around on the floor, with two maps spread out, of both modern and Victorian London, trying to figure out the different locations where events would take place and how long it would take my characters to get between them. But it was so much fun! At the moment I’m revising the second novel, which takes my characters to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, so I had to do a lot of research on nineteenth-century continental travel. I had to learn about passport requirements and the exchange rates between English pounds, French francs, and Austrian krone. Also, I had to go to Vienna and eat cake. For research, of course . . .

What’s a typical writing day like for you?

I actually don’t have a typical writing day! I also teach academic writing at Boston University, as well as creative writing in the Stonecoast  MFA program, so every day is a juggling act. I have classes to prepare and teach, papers to grade, students to meet with. I guess my typical writing day consists of a bunch of teaching tasks, and then fitting in writing everywhere I can, into every spare corner! Sometimes I write early in the mornings, sometimes late at night (or late into the morning!), sometimes on planes going to conferences, sometimes sitting up in bed and falling asleep on my notebook . . . The good thing about this is, I’ve learned to write anywhere, anywhen. The bad thing is, I’m tired a lot!

What was your favorite piece of research while writing The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter?

I think it was going to the Hunterian Museum in the Royal College of Surgeons, near Lincoln’s Inn Fields. It houses a collection of anatomical specimens–basically, body parts in jars. In the Victorian era, they were used to educate medical students, but also displayed as objects of curiosity–Victorians were fascinated by the grotesque (as, admit it, are we!). Honestly, it’s a bit gruesome walking among shelves filled with tumors in jars, or examples of embryonic development gone wrong, because of course a collection for medical students will focus on diseases and abnormalities. But it’s also a fascinating glimpse into who we are as human beings, at how complicated our bodies and their processes actually are. And of course it gave me a great setting for an important scene in the novel.

What is your go to writing drink and snack?

I have to be very strict with myself, because it’s so easy to snack while writing. You’re expending a lot of energy thinking, and yet you’re not exercising at all, except for your fingers. So my writing drink is water. If I must have a snack, I usually choose something like graham crackers and dark chocolate broken into small squares, because if you have to eat multiple pieces, you can fool yourself into thinking that you’ve eaten a lot before you’ve eaten too much. I love writing, but I have to be honest about the fact that it’s not a very healthy activity. I do physical therapy to deal with repetitive motion problems, and I’m careful about snacking. This is not the glamorous side of the writing life! When you see a ballet, you don’t think about the ballerina’s feet–similarly, when you read a novel, you don’t think about the writer sitting in front of the computer, late at night, in pajamas, trying to eat graham crackers without getting crumbs on the keyboard. And you shouldn’t–we’re in the business of creating wonderful illusions. But that’s a glimpse of what it looks like behind the scenes!

About the Author

Theodora Goss’s publications include the short story collection In the Forest of Forgetting (2006); Interfictions (2007), a short story anthology coedited with Delia Sherman; Voices from Fairyland (2008), a poetry anthology with critical essays and a selection of her own poems; and The Thorn and the Blossom (2012), a two-sided novella in an accordion format. She has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, Locus, and Mythopoeic Awards, and on the Tiptree Award Honor List. She has won the World Fantasy and Rhysling Awards.

LINKS: Website | Twitter 

Tour Schedule

Week 1:

6/26: TV, Books, & More … Oh My! – Top 10 Secret Societies

6/27: Resch Reads and Reviews – Makeup Looks

6/28: Wandering Bark Books – Guest Post

6/29: In Wonderland – Q&A

6/30: Avid Reader – Review 

Week 2:

7/3: Books Are Love – Q&A

7/4: Reading Is Better With Cupcakes – Review

7/5: Just Commonly – Review

7/6: Miranda’s Book Blog – Guest Post

7/7: The Book Return – Review

Let’s talk about it!

Stephanie
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Blog Tour: Spindle Fire [Guest Post & Giveaway]

Posted April 7, 2017 by Stephanie in Blog Tour, Giveaway, Guest Post / 7 Comments

Blog Tour: Spindle Fire [Guest Post & Giveaway]Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer
Series: Spindle Fire #1
Published by Harper Teen on April 11 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
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Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king's headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.
And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora's blood--and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.
As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.
Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape . . . or the reason for her to stay.
Spindle Fire is the first book in a duology.

Guest Post

I learned so many interesting things while researching for Spindle Fire! I based the world loosely on France in the early 1300’s, but layered in the rules and history of the faerie world. One of the things I had suspected was that in the early fourteenth century, western Europe did not have spinning wheels! They only used drop spindles (which—fun fact—I’ve actually used before. We had a class in middle school devoted to hand-spinning, dyeing and weaving wool! You have to spin this thing that looks like a top, while literally letting it drop to the floor, with chunks of wool wrapped around the base. The gravity and the spinning pull on the wool and stretch it into yarn, basically. My yarn was always terrible and chunky, though.) Anyway, there were spinning wheels in China for literally hundreds of years prior. The spinning wheel in my book is enchanted and it is something Malfleur and Belcoeur’s parents procured in their world travels. I also had to look up the names of all the different rooms and buildings in medieval convents and castles, and I constantly had blueprints up on my computer while trying to choreograph scenes. I discovered that whale hunting was a huge industry in that time, and also that narwhals in particular were coveted for their tusks, partly because so many people believed in the legends of the unicorns and could be suckered into purchasing the tusks thinking they were unicorn horns. For the sequel, I read about battle strategies, and medieval glass-making, and open-pit sapphire mines (even though the latter ended up getting cut from the draft!) I learned how to light a flint via a Youtube video. I also read about plague masks and hunting rituals and I read a number of essays on how to write action sequences featuring blind narrators—it was important to me to do justice to that and to make a distinction between Isabelle’s often stubborn desire to throw herself into dangerous situations and, on the other hand, the reasonable limitations she would experience. I never wanted her blindness to feel like a gimmick, but a trait that she lives with, sometimes grappling with it but mostly accepting it as part of the fabric of her existence and how she experiences the world. The Binks chapter was a lot of fun. I learned that gambling and card-playing were so rampant that a tax was placed on all card decks and you could be fined for using an illegal deck. I took some liberties with the idea of Romances—back then, the great works of “romance” were stories of heroism and war. The term didn’t really mean what it means today, but even still, there were tales of love woven through and I imagined that those are what Aurora latches onto when she teaches herself to read. That’s another thing I wanted to make very clear—how unusual it would have been for a woman (or anyone) to be able to read at all! They mostly didn’t have paper (that was just coming into circulation although like so many inventions, it had existed for hundreds of years already in the east). And of course they wrote with quills you had to dip into ink pots, so it’s not like writing was particularly convenient or common, either. Aurora’s life would have been a whole lot easier if she could have just jotted down notes for people to read!

About the Author

Lexa Hillyer is the co-founder of Paper Lantern Lit, former YA editor, and author of Proof of Forever. Lexa is also an award-winning poet: Her first collection, Acquainted with the Cold, won the Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize as well as the 2012 Book of the Year Award from ForeWord Reviews. Her poetry has been anthologized in Best New Poets 2012, and has appeared in several journals. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their daughter.

LINKS: Website | Twitter Instagram

Giveaway

3 Finished Copies of SPINDLE FIRE (US Only)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule

Week 1:

4/3: Lost In Lit – Bookish Inspirations

4/4: Ex Libris – Review

4/5: The Irish Banana Review – Makeup Inspirations

4/6: Reads All the Books – Review

4/7: In Wonderland – Guest Post

Week 2:

4/10: Book Scents – Review

4/11: The Fake Steph – Q&A

4/12: Swoony Boys Podcast – Review

4/13: The Bookkeeper’s Secret – Mood Board

4/14: The Story Sanctuary – Review

Let’s talk about it!

Stephanie
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Heartless by Marissa Meyer [Review]

Heartless by Marissa Meyer [Review]

Posted January 5, 2017 by Lizzie in Review / 3 Comments

My Thoughts Oh my goodness fellow book nerds! THIS BOOK was everything and more. If you’re a fellow Alice in Wonderland freak as the rest of us, Meyer’s contribution to the canon world is fantastic. As per usual, with books I love this will be short and sweet – so let’s dive in! I think […]

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WoW [80]

WoW [80]

Posted October 19, 2016 by Lizzie in Meme / 2 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday (aka: WoW) is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, spotlighting releases we are waiting for eagerly. This Week’s Victim Pick…. My Thoughts I have an extreme weakness for anything faerie and anything retellings and beautiful covers. So basically, this hit all the marks to be a true love at first […]

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Review: The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Adieh

Review: The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Adieh

Posted October 6, 2016 by Lizzie in Review / 0 Comments

Omigoodness did this book have action. From page one, you are completely thrown into the plot with no time for water and not a single bathroom break. I read this novel from start to finish in one afternoon! Usually with fantasy I love when authors take their time explaining the world to you, letting the […]

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WoW [77]

WoW [77]

Posted September 28, 2016 by Lizzie in Meme / 1 Comment

Waiting on Wednesday (aka: WoW) is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, spotlighting releases we are waiting for eagerly. This Week’s Victim Pick…. My Thoughts Beware the goblin?? OKAY. Sold. Done. Gimme, GIMMEE. I love fantasy, I love how authors around the world twist their imagination and come up with stories like this […]

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A Court of Mist and Fury [Review]

A Court of Mist and Fury [Review]

Posted June 16, 2016 by Stephanie in Review / 0 Comments

My Thoughts **Note: Most of this will probably be spoilerific, so if you have not read this series yet, I suggest read it and then read my thoughts! You have been warned!** Okay, so if I could give this a million stars, I would. I absolutely freaking LOVED this book. This is hands down my […]

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