We’re excited to be taking part in Saundra Mitchell’s official blog tour for her new book, The Vespertine — an eerie, historical paranormal that we’re very excited for you to check out! And today, we’ve got an exclusive interview with Saundra to talk more about her book. Plus, keep reading below for details on how you can enter an AWESOME contest that Saundra’s hosting to celebrate her book launch.
It seems as if there are two big elements at work in The Vespertine — historical fiction and the paranormal. When you got the idea for the book, which of these came first & how did the second element shape the first?
The paranormal idea for the book showed up first. The original conception was “A girl who can see the future, but only in the sunset.” It wasn’t tied to a particular place, or time or character yet. When it finally ended up in 1889, I had the wonderful background of the Victorian spiritualism craze to build into it. Instead of Amelia having to hide her ability, I could write about her flaunting it, even becoming popular because of it. So that was an exciting thing to explore!
How would the story have been different if it were set in contemporary times?
I actually tried to write it in a contemporary form- twice! The first stab at it was set in contemporary southern Indiana, and it would have been about the same themes (young women, their agency, and their sexuality,) but I was definitely going a different direction with it. That version started not not with a girl locked in an attic, but a girl having a fit at a Pentecostal tent revival. So, pretty different, I’d say!
If you saw someone looking at your book in a bookstore, what would you say to convince them to buy it?
That assumes I would even be able to talk! I’d probably end up scaring them off, because I would be giggling and dancing in the next aisle, going, OMG OMG THEY’RE LOOKING AT MY BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOK.
How is The Vespertine different/similar to your other book, Shadowed Summer?
I think they’re both very atmosphere and voice-heavy books. The narrators invite you to the time and place that they live, and I think reading both, you’ll definitely feel like you visited Ondine, Louisiana in the dead of summer, and Baltimore, Maryland in 1889. But in Shadowed Summer, Iris’ concerns are very different from Amelia’s in The Vespertine. They’re at two entirely different places in their lives, and Iris’ focus is her family, while Amelia’s focus is her future.
You have a companion to The Vespertine coming out next year. What can you tell us about it?
Not a lot, because it would spoil the end of The Vespertine! But I can say that it features one character from The Vespertine, and we follow her out west to start a whole new life on the prairie. And that character is NOT Amelia!
What sort of research went into writing The Vespertine? Any recommended reading for fans who want to delve more into this world?
Tons and tons and tons of reading. I read period newspapers, I read books about Victorian homemaking, the Victorian Spiritualist movement, I pored over Harper’s Bazars for the clothes, I looked at maps, and period photography, and read many, many histories of Baltimore. If you’re really excited about just the history, The Baltimore Rowhouse – Charles Belfour and Mary Ellen Hayward, The Ghost Map – Steven Johnson, Talking to the Dead – Barbara Weisberg, The Darkened Room: Women, Power and Spiritualism in Late Victorian England– Alex Owen, Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women’s Rights in 19th Century America – Ann Braude, Inside the Victorian Home – Judith Flanders, Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management – Isabella Mary Beeton.
But if you’re really excited about historical YA fiction, with or without paranormal elements, I have a list of 20 recommendations on the website to peruse!
What interview question do you always wish someone would ask?
Hey, Saundra, is it true that you’re moving to Sri Lanka with Robert Pattinson?
Now answer that question.
Yes, yes it is! (I don’t have to answer honestly, right?)
Novel Novice’s Flash Questions:
Tossup between Jem and Robotech. She-Ra in a close third.
Chocolate or vanilla?
Your personal theme song?
“Save a Prayer” by Duran Duran. Uh, it’s not a very good theme song considering the lyrics, but I like it, and the mood fits, and I never get tired of it.
You’re on a deserted island and have to read one book for the rest of your life. What is it?
The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan.
Favorite book as a child?
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.
I can make bread without a recipe.
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So now … you want to win some cool prizes? Then listen up! The last stop of The Vespertine Blog Tour will be April 1st on Saundra’s own blog, and that’s where you can enter to win an amazing prize pack, including:
- 1 signed copy of The Vespertine
- 1 blown glass pen + amber ink and pen rest
- 1 silver & amber sunburst pendant
- 1 signed foiled bookmark
- 1 dance card, signed by Aprilynne Pike, Caitlin Kittredge, Carrie Ryan, Christine Johnson, Holly Black, Linda Gerber, Lisa McMann, Sarah MacLean, Sarah Rees Brennan and Saundra.
Two additional winners will receive a signed copy of The Vespertine, a signed foiled bookmark, and a dance card signed by Saundra.
But you’ll need to visit ALL of the blog stops to enter, including ours. Why? Well, you’ll need to collect our dance cards:
So be sure to head over to Saundra’s site on April 1st, and check out ALL of the blogs on her tour to enter this great contest!