I am excited to have Holly on the blog today answering a question for me about her new book, Feral, as part of the blog tour. To see what I thought of Feral check out my review here.
In the beginning, FERAL shocked me with the violence and attention to each gruesome detail (and I’m not easily shocked). Is it hard to transition from writing a ‘nicer’ book like THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY to writing FERAL and having to be in a different frame of mind?
It’s funny—I never feel like I’m in a dark place when I’m writing darker or grittier material. Nor do I necessarily feel lighter or happier when I’m drafting lighter work. I always feel like I’m flexing the same muscles: building characters, crafting a plot, devising a plan to intensify the action…
One thing I’ve noticed is that when I’m writing gritty material, I never get the same “Oh, no” feeling I often have when I’m reading gritty material. For example, I’m an animal lover, so the book ONE GOOD DOG was really hard for me to get through—not because it wasn’t well done, but because it featured the voice of a dog from a fighting ring. I was constantly afraid of what the chapters written from his POV would say—so I often picked up other reads, letting ONE GOOD DOG sit for long periods of time.
I also grew up with two cats I adored—but wasn’t nearly as upset about the prospect of writing gruesome descriptions of cats for FERAL. I wasn’t afraid to deal with harsh scenes—mostly, I think, because I was in control of them. I knew I was never going to pen a scene so disturbing that it would keep me up at night.
Not having to be in a certain frame of mind when writing can be a godsend when books are in development. I can never anticipate when editorial notes will come in from my editor, so I spend the time I’m waiting for the notes working on the next book—which may be 180 degrees different from the project in development. (I’ve taken on YA and MG, contemporary realism, psychological thriller, and romance. And I’ll be branching out again in the near future.) I can be drafting a dark YA when notes for a lighthearted MG come in. At that point, to make the editorial deadline for my publisher, I have to write a brain-dump letter to myself, indicating where I am in the draft of my YA and where I want to go with it. Then, I have to put it aside, get to work on what are often global revisions of the MG.
Gear-shifting becomes an essential quality for a traditionally published author to have—and can actually be fun, once you get the knack of it…
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.
FERAL AND THE PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER:
FERAL falls squarely into the realm of the classic psychological thriller. While the book features mystery, horror, and paranormal elements, 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 here 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.
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, 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.
Giveaway to win a signed hardcover of FERAL (running from September 3 – September 17):
a Rafflecopter giveaway