Feral Blog Tour: Interview and Giveaway!
Posted by Krystal Larson at 12:43 AM Friday, October 3, 2014
What was your main inspiration for the novel?
The inspiration came in pieces, actually. To begin with, I wanted to write a murder mystery that centered at a school. The very first draft was an MG, and the school was a middle school…when revision started to make the book dark, I bumped it up to YA. Also, when I bumped the book up to YA, I had to toss out my original protagonist. She was absolutely thirteen—far too young and out of place in a YA. I needed a new main character. When I brainstormed who Claire Cain, my new protagonist, was, I discovered a horrific backstory: Claire was the victim of a brutal gang beating in Chicago. Discovering this backstory meant that I wanted the central theme of the book to be about recovering from violence…and that meant I also needed to change the genre from mystery to psychological thriller. Like psychological thrillers, FERAL features mystery, horror, and paranormal elements, but the emphasis is on the “psychological” rather than thriller / action. The novel features a Hitchcockian pace and focus on character development (here, we’re exploring the inner workings of the main character, Claire Cain). Essentially, every aspect of FERAL is used to explore Claire’s inner workings—that even includes the wintry Ozarks setting. The water metaphor is employed frequently in psychological thrillers to represent the subconscious, and in this instance is incorporated in the form of a brutal ice storm (that represents Claire’s “frozen” inner state). The attempt to untangle what is real from what is unreal (another frequently-used aspect of the psychological thriller) also begins to highlight the extent to which Claire was hurt in that Chicago alley. Even the explanation of the odd occurrences in the town of Peculiar offers an exploration into and portrait of Claire’s psyche. Ultimately, FERAL is a book about recovering from violence—that’s not just a lengthy or hard process; it’s a terrifying process, too. The classic psychological thriller allowed me to explore that frightening process in detail.
Who was your favorite character to write about and why?
I’d have to say I enjoyed Rich the most. It was nice to give Claire someone to lean on. And Rich is such a calming factor—it was nice to offer a slice of calm at different points of the story, in the midst of such crazed events (and responses to events).
Who was the hardest character to write about and why?
Claire was the hardest. Addressing what happened to her in Chicago was tough, but so were those passages in which she discusses her feelings for Rachelle, her best friend. The gang beating happens after Claire swoops in to save Rachelle from being wrongfully accused of something she didn’t do. The gang retaliates after Claire rats them out. As a result, Claire has resentments—those resentments come out full-force in an email she writes to Rachelle (but doesn’t send). To be honest, I think I almost had a harder time writing that awful email than I did the scene in Chicago.
Is there a scene in the book you rewrote several times?
The scene in Chicago—where we first meet up with Claire—was rewritten more than just a few times. In part, I rewrote it so many times because I don’t think I could have gotten in all those horrible details all in one fell swoop. But I also rewrote it because I wanted the reader’s sympathy to be with Claire. My editor was pretty keen on the Serena chapters when the book was in development. I love them, too, but I didn’t want Serena to be more sympathetic than Claire. In the end, I do think that second chapter (Claire’s chapter) is far more brutal than the first chapter (in which we hear from a murdered Serena). But that’s the way it had to be. This is Claire’s book—the reader’s heart and interest needed to be in Claire’s story.
If you could describe the book with five adjectives what would you say?
Frightening, true, mystery, painful, reflective.
Do we have more to look forward to from you?
I always have a new project in the works. I’ve just finished my next MG and YA, and am looking to branch out into new genres as well. Be sure to follow me on Twitter: @holly_schindler and Facebook: facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor for the latest.
FERAL jacket copy: The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know.
It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.
But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.
But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….
Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.
Holly Schindler Bio:
Holly Schindler is the author of the critically acclaimed A BLUE SO DARK (Booklist starred review, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medal recipient) as well as PLAYING HURT (both YAs).
Her debut MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, also released in ’14, and became a favorite of teachers and librarians, who used the book as a read-aloud. Kirkus Reviews called THE JUNCTION “...a heartwarming and uplifting story...[that] shines...with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.”
FERAL is Schindler’s third YA and first psychological thriller. Publishers Weekly gave FERAL a starred review, stating, “Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler’s third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A BLUE SO DARK…This time, the focus is on women’s voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking…This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees.”
Schindler encourages readers to get in touch. Booksellers, teen librarians, and teachers can also contact her directly regarding Skype visits. She can be reached at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com, and can also be found at hollyschindler.com, hollyschindler.blogspot.com, @holly_schindler, Facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor, and hollyschindler.tumblr.com
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