Hey guys, I'm super excited to be participating in the blog tour for Cat Winters' new novel today! The book sounds amazing! A Hamlet reimagining? YES PLEASE. I cannot wait to read it! And I loved getting to talk with Cat about her book! But here's a bit more information about it before I share the interview with y'all. :D
*****Title: The Steep and Thorny Way
Author: Cat Winters
Pub. Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books
Format: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.
1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.
The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.
Hi Cat, and welcome to The Fox’s Hideaway!
Thank you, Holly! I’m thrilled to be here.
1. I can’t wait to read your latest book, The Steep and Thorny Way, but I hadn’t known for a long time that it’s a reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. And it makes me even more excited because I love Shakespeare! :D How did it become your inspiration for this story?
I’m thrilled to hear you’re a Shakespeare fan! I don’t actually remember the precise moment when Hamlet became the inspiration for The Steep and Thorny Way, but I figured out exactly how I was going to form a novel out of the history I’d researched once the idea came to mind. I think it might have stemmed from thinking about how much I love the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? The film drew inspiration from Homer’s Odyssey to create a unique take on racism and crime in the Deep South during the Great Depression. I wanted my reimagining of Hamlet to unfold in a similar style: not a scene-for-scene retelling, but a wholly original work that contains characters and a central conflict inspired by a classic work from the past.
2. Most of your books are a blend between paranormal and historical fiction. What do you love about mixing the two genres together?
For as long as I can remember I’ve been drawn to both Gothic novels and historical fiction, and whenever the two elements combine—such as in Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale and Sarah Waters’s The Little Stranger—I’m in heaven as a reader. Blending both history and ghosts came naturally for me when writing my first novel, In the Shadow of the Blackbirds, a book about the Spiritualism movement in the U.S. during World War I. My agent and editors have encouraged me to keep incorporating the paranormal into my historical tales ever since then, so I’ve found ways for the supernatural elements to make sense in each specific book.
3. How do you balance keeping the story’s setting historically accurate but also giving yourself room to explore the supernatural?
In order to preserve the realism of the history, I typically find some sort of “portal” that my characters go through before they experience anything supernatural. With In the Shadow of Blackbirds, my main character doesn’t start communicating with a ghost until she gets struck by lightning and survives a near-death experience. In The Cure for Dreaming, my main character starts seeing the world the way it truly is after she’s hypnotized. And in The Steep and Thorny Way, my protagonist, Hanalee, isn’t able to communicate with the spirit of her father until she drinks an elixir called Necromancer’s Nectar.
To make the transition from reality to the supernatural as smooth as possible, I also create highly atmospheric settings that already hint that something otherworldly awaits around the corner.
4. I can imagine writing historical fiction takes a lot of research. What’s the most interesting (or disturbing) thing you have ever researched for one of your novels?
Yes, a great deal of research is definitely involved. It’s hard to pick just one interesting or disturbing item, but I would say that the eugenics movement in the United States is probably one of the most troubling pieces of history I’ve come across. In an attempt to “improve” the genetic makeup of the United States in the 1900s, doctors sterilized selective prisoners, asylum inmates, and other individuals deemed genetically “unfit.” Prime targets were people who didn’t conform to the American “ideal” of white, straight, U.S.-born citizens. In Oregon alone, the State Board of Eugenics was responsible for the sterilization of 2,648 adults, teens, and children from the early 1920s to 1981. The Nazis themselves drew inspiration from this American practice. The Nazis!
Eugenics plays a role in The Steep and Thorny Way, which is set in 1923. It’s also briefly mentioned in In the Shadow of Blackbirds.
5. And lastly, what are you currently working on?
I’m in the final stages of revisions for my newest adult novel, Yesternight, which HarperCollins will release October 4, 2016. It’s the fictional tale of a school psychologist who meets a seven-year-old girl who claims to have lived a past life. I’m also writing my fourth YA novel, currently titled Odd & True, which Abrams will release in approximately Spring 2017. That one’s a dark Edwardian tale involving two sisters, American monster legends, and the war between reality and imagination.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Cat, and congrats on your newest book release! :)
Thank you for hosting me!
About the Author:
Cat Winters’s critically acclaimed debut novel, In the Shadow of Blackbirds, was named a 2014 Morris Award Finalist, a 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults pick, a 2013 Bram Stoker Award Nominee, and a School Library Journal Best Book of 2013. Her upcoming novels include The Cure for Dreaming (Amulet Books/Oct. 2014) and The Uninvited (William Morrow/2015), and she’s a contributor to the 2015 YA horror anthology Slasher Girls & Monster Boys. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Visit her online at www.catwinters.com.
Photo by Tara Kelly
Find Cat Online:
5 winners will receive a finished copy of THE STEEP AND THORNY WAY, US Only!
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