Wednesday, July 27, 2011

INTERVIEW with Victoria Schwab! And CONTEST!

A year or so ago, I had the honor of reading an early version of Victoria Schwab's debut novel, THE NEAR WITCH. I've always loved fairy tales, and this is an instant classic: it envelops you in the dreamy fairy tale landscape, it intrigues you, draws you in...and WHAM scares the crap out of you.

Okay, so I'm not a lyrical writer like Victoria. But it's true. This story will both scare and captivate you. The language is gorgeous, the landscape and characters whole and real.

And it's out officially on August 2nd!! I can't wait for the rest of you to read it.

To celebrate, I cornered V for a little one-on-one interview time--AND I'm giving away a copy of THE NEAR WITCH, mailed to your (North American) door.

Are you ready? Here we go!

1.    The Near Witch is in the best tradition of fairy tales: creepy, magic, and possible enough to scare the heck out of you. I know you've picked Little Red Riding Hood as a favorite classic, but for research you must've read some more obscure, off-the-wall stories. What's your favorite out of the ordinary fairy tale, and why?

 You know, it’s interesting, but most of my research revolved around the WAY stories are told, passed down from generation to generation, and the way they shape a community. Truth becomes relative, and tradition becomes law. But I have indeed read a good deal of fairy tales and fables. 

One of my favorites is Godfather Death by the Brothers Grimm. I have always had a weakness for personifications, especially those of Death (the first book I ever wrote, and one I’m determined to revisit some day, involves  Death) and in this one we get God, the Devil, and Death. A man with many children is overwhelmed by yet another, a boy, and goes into the road to seek guidance and a godfather. God walks by, but the man refuses, accusing him of being unfair. The Devil walks by, and the man refuses him, too, knowing his cons. Death walks by, and the man, knowing he treats all equally, chooses him. Death goes on to guide the child, to elevate him to a position of power. But the boy crosses Death once, and is forgiven, but he does it a second time, and in the end Death claims him.

2.    Creepy! I am so impressed (always) with your lyrical, almost dreamy use of language—which fits perfectly in the world of The Near Witch. Tell me about the language in this book. How do the village and the moors shape the words? How aware of this were you when you were writing?

The language in the book is incredibly important. Writing a fairy tale means landing the style, and in this case the narration, between fantasy and reality. The tone has to be slightly more formal, without being lofty, well-drawn, but sparse. So much of writing a fairy tale is the WAY in which it’s written. I could have done NW and had it read like high-fantasy, or like paranormal, but I didn’t want to. I wanted a fairy tale, down to the timelessness. And it turns out, as many, many rounds of fine-tuning will attest, finding that little “timeless” patch on the spectrum of style is actually really hard.

3.    You're stuck alone in an elevator with Neil Gaiman, and you have time to ask him ONE question. What would it be?

Can I have this dance?

4.    You get to bring Neil ONE type of chocolate or baked good, without it being at all creepy. :)  What would you bring?

 GASP. I’d probably bring him a batch of chocolate cake cookies. Because they are apparently quite eatable, and in my mind he’d take them home, and keep snacking on them, and then I’d leave a more lasting impression than say, a cupcake :p

5.    Explain your obsession with narwhals.

Narhwals are the unicorns of the sea!! But seriously, I find them enchanting. They are proof that there is still a little magic in the world. 

 6.    Like everybody, you've had ups and downs in this crazy publication path. Tell me your favorite thing that's happened so far. What do you look forward to most?

Oh yeah, it’s definitely been a roller coaster. But one of my favorite things has been so small and random. A friend and fan of the book (that second F-word sounds sooooo weird) told me that one of HER friends recommended THE NEAR WITCH to her after the friend’s mother, a high school teacher, told her daughter about it, after she heard a group of students in the hall talking about books they wanted to read that summer.


I still can’t process that people out there who are not directly related to me/friends with me even KNOW about my book, so that was pretty wonderful.


Victoria's the coolest.

Okay, so you want to win a copy of this book, right? RIGHT?

Here's what you do.

You saw how I scattered images throughout the post, to illustrate? I want YOU to go on an image scavenger hunt.

1. Go forth and find an image or images of things to do with THE NEAR WITCH or Victoria. Suggestions include, but are not limited to:
  • narwhals
  • chocolate
  • cupcakes
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Fairy tales
  • Witches
  • Yorkshire villages
Note: You are NOT allowed to steal the images from (a) this post or (b) anything V herself has posted. Search the internet a *little* further.

2. Post your picture(s) somewhere, and tell me here or on twitter (@susan_adrian) where. You can post it on twitter, your blog, Flickr, Tumblr, whatever. Just post and say what it's for (#thenearwitch), and TELL ME! You get an entry point for each picture, UP TO FIVE.

3. You also get one point just for commenting here or twittering with #thenearwitch hashtag, for those people who don't want to mess with the pictures. See how easy I am?

4. Contest ends Friday at noon!! Then I'll do a random draw and order copy of THE NEAR WITCH for the winner!! North American entries only, please. Though everybody is welcome to post pics.


Linda G. said...

Lovely, lovely interview! I can't wait to hold my very own copy of THE NEAR WITCH.

V...keep breathing. ;)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the delightful interview! And this was a super fun contest!

All of my pictures can be found here:

Tiffany Schmidt said...

"Can I have this dance?" LOL - I hope the elevator music is especially delightful that day -- maybe some Kenny G. <3

Jordan said...

Yay! Great giveaway! SOOOOOOO excited about reading this one when I can get my grubby little hands on it!


Catherine/Suburban Vampire said...

Great interview!! I've already pre-ordered this book, so no need to enter me in the contest. I LOVE fairy tales and even took a wonderful fairy tale course in college, so I can't wait to read THE NEAR WITCH.

Susan Adrian said...

Linder: Thank you!

bibliothec: I LOVE your pictures! Thanks so much for playing! You are entered 6 times. :)

Tiffany: Fun to picture, eh?

Jordan: Thanks! You're entered!

Cathy: You will love it, I promise!

Emily Hainsworth said...

Yay V! Yay NEAR WITCH! Also, not fair--when do I get to be trapped in an elevator with Neil Gaiman?! Great interview!

Crystal Posey said...

Count me in! I'm hearing great things about this book!

Michaele Stoughton said...

I have a new live for narwhals, thanks to your lovely interview.
I really want this book, please count me in!

Michaele Stoughton said...

That should've been love. Lol.

Annika said...

I found the PERFECT picture!

Susan Adrian said...

Emily: I know. I would not mind it myself. Though I don't think I would be brave enough to ask for a dance.

Crystal: You are IN, bb!

Michaele: Thank you! Narwhals rock.

Annika: Oh. My. Goodness. That is a PERFECT Victoria picture!! Thank you!

The Story Queen said...

THANK YOU. You don't even know how much I want to read this book. SO BADLY. Thanks for the awesome interview! Narwhals are LOVE.

My pictures:

Hopefully you can view that alright. Thanks! :)


Anonymous said...

The Story Queen just summed up my life.


Susan Adrian said...

The Story Queen: Those are PERFECT!! Thank you!