Publisher: Saga Press

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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Bookburners [Book Blitz]

Posted January 30, 2017 by Stephanie in book blitz, Excerpt / 0 Comments

Bookburners [Book Blitz]Bookburners by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty, Brian Francis Slattery
Published by Saga Press on January 10th 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 800
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The critically acclaimed urban fantasy about a secret team of agents that hunts down dangerous books containing deadly magic—previously released serially online by Serial Box, now available in print for the first time!
Magic is real, and hungry. It’s trapped in ancient texts and artifacts, and only a few who discover it survive to fight back. Detective Sal Brooks is a survivor. She joins a Vatican-backed black-ops anti-magic squad—Team Three of the Societas Librorum Occultorum—and together they stand between humanity and the magical apocalypse. Some call them the Bookburners. They don’t like the label.
Supernatural meets The Da Vinci Code in a fast-paced, kickass character driven novel chock-full of magic, mystery, and mayhem, written collaboratively by a team of some of the best writers working in fantasy.

 About the Authors

Max Gladstone

MAX GLADSTONE has been thrown from a horse in Mongolia, drank almond milk with monks on Wudang Shan, and wrecked a bicycle in Angkor Wat. Max is also the author of the Craft Sequence of books about undead gods and skeletal law wizards—Full Fathom Five, Three Parts Dead, Two Serpents Rise, and Last First Snow. Max fools everyone by actually writing novels in the coffee shops of Davis Square in Somerville, MA. His dreams are much nicer than you’d expect. He tweets as @maxgladstone. Bookburners, which he wrote with Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty, and Brian Francis Slattery, is available from Saga Press in January.

Margaret Dunlap

Before joining the Bookburners, MARGARET DUNLAP wrote for ABC Family’s cult-hit The Middleman in addition to working on SyFy’s Eureka. Most recently, she was a writer and co-executive producer of the Emmy-winning transmedia series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and co-created its sequel Welcome to Sanditon. Her short fiction has previously appeared in Shimmer Magazine. Margaret lives in Los Angeles where she taunts the rest of the team with local weather reports and waits for the earthquake that will finally turn Burbank into oceanfront property. She tweets as @spyscribe. Bookburners, which she wrote with Max Gladstone, Mur Lafferty, and Brian Francis Slattery, is available from Saga Press in January.

Mur Lafferty

MUR LAFFERTY is the author of The Shambling Guides series from Orbit, including the Netfix-optioned The Shambling Guide to New York City and Ghost Train to New Orleans. She has been a podcaster for over 10 years, running award-winning shows such as I Should Be Writing and novellas published via podcast. She has written for RPGs, video games, and short animation. She lives in Durham, NC where she attends Durham Bulls baseball games and regularly pets two dogs. Her family regrets her Dragon Age addiction and wishes for her to get help. She tweets as @mightymur. Bookburners, which she wrote with Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, and Brian Francis Slattery, is available from Saga Press in January.

Brian Francis Slattery

BRIAN FRANCIS SLATTERY is the author of Spaceman Blues, Liberation, Lost Everything, and The Family Hightower. Lost Everything won the Philip K. Dick Award in 2012. He’s the arts and culture editor for the New Haven Independent, an editor for the New Haven Review, and a freelance editor for a few not-so-secret public policy think tanks. He also plays music constantly with a few different groups in a bunch of different genres. He has settled with his family just outside of New Haven and admits that elevation above sea level was one of the factors he took into account. For one week out of every year, he enjoys living completely without electricity. Bookburners, which he wrote with Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, and Mur Lafferty, is available from Saga Press in January.

Excerpt

An Excerpt from Bookburners Episode 1: Badge, Book, and Candle

He set his hand on the book’s cover. Sal hadn’t noticed before how the leather was discolored: most of it matched Perry’s skin, but a crimson bloom spread beneath his fingers. She heard a sound she couldn’t name: a footfall, maybe, or a whisper, very soft. Goose bumps chased goose bumps up her arms.

“Perry, who are the Bookburners? Do you think someone’s following you?”

“I thought you didn’t want to know.”

She leaned over the couch, over his shoulder, and checked through the blinds. Street still bare. Red Toyota pickup. Honda Civic. Garbage. E-Z Carpet Cleaner van.

“Please, Sal. They would have nabbed me on the way. They did not. Ergo, I wasn’t followed.”

“What the hell is going on?”

Someone knocked on her door.

“Shit,” Perry said.

“Jesus Christ, Perry.” She grabbed her phone off the living room table. “Who is that?”

“Aiden. Probably.”

“Mister Brooks?” The man on the other side of the door was unquestionably not Aiden—too old, too sure, too calm. An accent Sal couldn’t place twined through his words. “Mister Brooks, we’re not here to hurt you. We want to talk.”

“Shit,” Perry repeated, for emphasis.

Sal ran to her bedroom and returned with her gun. “Who are you?”

“I’m looking for Mister Brooks. I know he’s in there.”

“If he is, I doubt he’d want to see you.”

“I must talk with him.”

“Sir, I’m a police officer, and I’m armed. Please step away from the door.”

“Has he opened the book?”

“What?” She looked into the living room. Perry was standing now, holding the book, fingers clenched around the cover like she’d seen men at bay clutch the handles of knives. “Sir, please leave. I’m calling 9-1-1 now.” She pressed the autodial. The line clicked.

“Stop him from opening the book,” the man said. “Please. If he means anything to you, stop him.”

“Hello. This is Detective Sally Brooks,” and she rattled off her badge number and address. “I have a man outside my apartment who is refusing to leave—”

Something heavy struck the door. Doorjamb timbers splintered. Sally stumbled back, dropped the phone, both hands on the pistol. She took aim.

The door burst free of the jamb and struck the wall. A human wind blew through.

Later, Sal remembered slivers: a stinging blow to her wrist, her gun knocked back against the wall. A woman’s face—Chinese, she thought. Bob haircut. Her knee slammed into Sal’s solar plexus and she fell, gasping, to the splinter-strewn carpet. The woman turned, in slow-motion almost, to the living room where Perry stood.

He held the open book.

His eyes wept tears of blood, and his smile bared sharp teeth.

He spoke a word that was too big for her mind. She heard the woman roar, and glass break. Then darkness closed around her like a mouth.

© 2017 Max Gladstone, with permission from Saga Press

Let’s talk about it!

Stephanie
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