What We’re Reading Now

The rain has set in (here in the Pacific Northwest), we’re long on candy and short on daylight. Books are good companions for days like these. What are we reading?

From J. Anderson Coats:

I’ve just started THE REAL PROM QUEENS OF WESTFIELD HIGH by my agency sib Laurie Boyle Crompton. It’s about a very unlikely candidate for prom queen on a hidden-camera reality snow, and it’s already hilarious and charming and very page-turny. Can’t wait to see how it ends!Real Prom Queens

 

From Cat Winters:

My son and I are reading Heidi Schulz’s highly entertaining middle-grade novel, HOOK’S REVENGE, which was mentioned on last month’s “What We’re Reading Now” post. I’m sure young readers will be drawn to the novel because it’s about Captain Hook’s daughter, but I’m thoroughly enjoying it because it’s the tale of an opinionated, hysterically funny girl who enjoys bucking tradition and being herself.

 

From Jennifer McGowan:

I’m reading THE SIXTH EXTINCTION by James Rollins–a thriller that mixes science and history with all of the save-the-world action. It starts out with a re-imagining of Charles Darwin’s voyage to South America in 1831, and the terrible things he might have discovered during a side-trip to Antarctica, which figure prominently in the present-day adventure. 

 

From Sharon Biggs Waller:

I just this minute finished reading ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER by Stephanie Perkins. It’s just as adorable and heart-warming as her other two books in the series.  Interestingly, there’s a part in the story where Isla reads a book about an orchid hunter and tells her boyfriend how dangerous the occupation was.  I had to laugh because my next novel is about an orchid hunter, and yes it was dangerous.Isla

 

From Katherine Longshore:

I recently (and finally!) started reading OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon.  It has been recommended to me so consistently and so frequently that when I spotted it in an airport bookshop, I snapped it up.  I haven’t seen the Starz show yet, and will now have to wait until I finish the book.  Anybody else out there feel like you have to read the book before seeing a movie?

 

From Laura Golden:

I’ve just finished SKELLIG by David Almond. It tells of ten-year-old Michael and his discovery of a Skelligmysterious man/creature half living, half dying in the darkest corner of the garage. It is elegantly written and a fast read. Though the book was published as middle grade, it received a Printz Honor in 2000, the award’s inauguration year. There is a prequel, MY NAME IS MINA, that I can’t wait to get my hands on. Almond’s writing is certainly something to aspire to. Gorgeous. (And to answer Katy’s question, above: yes! I must always read a book before seeing the movie. It’s for this very reason I’ve not yet seen The Maze Runner. At the rate I’m slogging through my to-read pile, I likely never will. ;-))

 

From Jessica Spotswood:

I just finished Atia Abawi’s THE SECRET SKY, which is set in modern-day Afghanistan. It’s about a Hazara girl who falls in love with her childhood best friend, a Pashtun boy, with dire consequences from their families, their village, and the local Taliban-esque thugs who believe they are enforcing Islamic moral law. The author is an NBC correspondent and this is a really powerful, heartbreaking, ultimately hopeful story.Secret Sky

 

From Susan Hill Long:

I just started reading the second in Cynthia Voigt’s trilogy about Solutioneer Max Starling, MISTER MAX and the Book of Secrets. I thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns of the first book in the series, and look forward to more.

What are you reading? Let us know in the comments!

Soul Cakes

I thought about whomping up a rather detailed and probably controversial account of Halloween through the ages.

Instead I’m going to talk about cookies.

Medieval people went “souling” every year on All Saint’s Day (1 November). They’d go from house to house, chanting prayers or singing songs, and householders would hand out cookie-type goodies called soul cakes to them when they were finished. This custom is an ancestor of trick-or-treating, only it wasn’t just kids who’d go since you could also expect a mug of ale with your soul cake.

Want to try them? Of course you do.

Soul Cakes

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
4 cups flour, sifted
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cloves
¼ cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the butter and sugar until creamy. Mix all dry ingredients together, then slowly add to the butter mixture. Add enough milk to make a dough the consistency of cookie dough.

Roll the dough flat (about half an inch thick) and use a drinking glass to cut the cakes. Mark each with an X. Use your biggest knife because this makes it more awesome.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until golden-brown.

If you feel like being completely inauthentic, they taste great dipped in or drizzled with chocolate syrup.

This recipe was adapted from one printed in British Calendar Customs (Folklore Society of London, 1940).

Celebrating the release of THE LAST SISTER by Courtney McKinney-Whitaker

Here on Corsets, Cutlasses, and Candlesticks, we’re always pleased and proud to herald in another historical novel. Today we celebrate the release of one of our guest bloggers, Courtney McKinney-Whitaker’s THE LAST SISTER (Young Palmetto Books), which received a Kirkus starred review. Congrats Courtney!

 

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Set during the Anglo-Cherokee War (1758–61), The Last Sister traces a young woman’s journey through grief, vengeance, guilt, and love in the unpredictable world of the early American frontier. After a band of fellow settlers fakes a Cherokee raid to conceal their murder of her family, seventeen-year-old Catriona “Catie” Blair embarks on a quest to report the crime and bring the murderers to justice, while desperately seeking to regain her own sense of safety.

This journey leads Catie across rural South Carolina and through Cherokee territory—where she encounters wild animals, physical injury, privation, British and Cherokee leaders, and an unexpected romance with a young lieutenant from a Scottish Highland regiment—on her path to a new life as she strives to overcome personal tragedy.

The Anglo-Cherokee War erupted out of tensions between British American settlers and the Cherokee peoples, who had been allies during the early years of the French and Indian War. In 1759 South Carolina governor William Henry Lyttelton declared war on the Cherokee nation partly in retaliation for what he perceived as unprovoked attacks on backcountry settlements.

Catie’s story challenges many common notions about early America. It also presents the Cherokee as a sovereign and powerful nation whose alliance was important to Britain and addresses the complex issues of race, class, and ethnicity that united and divided the British, the Cherokee, the Scottish highlanders, and the Scottish lowlanders, while it incorporates issues of power that led to increased violence toward women on the early American frontier.

Have you always been interested in American history? What drew you to this particular time?

In elementary school, I read a lot of books set in the colonial period, including, memorably, Johnny Tremain and The Witch of Blackbird Pond, which remain on my list of books that most influenced me. I had several American Girl dolls (I think I was among their first customers back in the late 1980s/early 1990s), but Felicity, the character who lives in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1774, was my favorite. My husband and I have been visiting Colonial Williamsburg on a regular basis since 2003 because it’s a good central meeting point for a lot of family. The rest of the family wants to find somewhere else, but I secretly hope we don’t. How could anyone get tired of Duke of Gloucester Street? It’s called Duke of Gloucester Street. That’s so cool.

I grew up in South Carolina, where most of The Last Sister is set, and it always bugged me that New England got all the good colonial-era stories. See above, I love(d) colonial-era stories. When I moved north, I realized there’s a strong perception that Southern history started in 1861 and ended in 1865 and that we all live in Charleston or New Orleans, which isn’t true, obviously. Catie’s frontier world is a far cry from the way Hollywood stereotypes South Carolina, which has a much more complex history than we usually get pop culture credit for. The backcountry frontier South isn’t familiar territory for most readers, which makes writing about it both a joy and a challenge.

 Here on CCC we are always interested in other hist fic author’s process, in particular with research. How do you keep track of your research? Notecards? Computer files? Notebooks?

I’m a very tactile learner, which means that as a researcher I need to be able to physically touch and organize the information. I wish I could save more paper and use all those cool computer programs that are supposed to streamline my research, but to stay organized I need to print things and organize them in folders. I often handwrite my research notes because I’m more likely to remember them that way. I’m also a sucker for pretty office supplies, so I need to find ways to justify my purchases.

 Who is your favorite character in the novel?  Who is your least?

I’ve been thinking about this question for several days. It’s tough to say because they all have their strong and weak points, both in their own personalities and in how successful I feel I was in writing them, so I’ll just pick on a couple.

Lieutenant-Colonel James Grant, the acting commanding officer of the 77th Highland Regiment, was probably the most fun to write. He was a real person, so I had to juggle his fictional response to Catie’s problem with the real man. He’s one of those largely forgotten figures from history who just jumps off the page once you meet him, and he was a fascinating character long before I got to him. He wasn’t the stereotypical British officer by any means, which forced me to find a way to make his, shall we say original, views and behavior believable to a modern audience that might make certain assumptions about how a British officer of the time thought and felt.

I don’t especially like the minor character of Sam Murray, the unfortunate victim of the one graphic scalping scene. He strikes me as weak, as a follower, as someone who lacks the courage of his convictions—even if those convictions are problematic at best. He’s a waffler, which is what gets him killed. There were characters I hated to lose, but he’s not one of them.

Do you have a favorite line in the book you’d like to share?

When Catie is comforting a sick toddler at Fort Loudoun, she thinks, “Why are so many of the songs we sing to children about death?”

The book’s title is a reference to the third fate in Greek mythology, the one who cuts the threads of human lives. Death is a huge theme in the book, as it would be almost by default in any book set in this time and place, where the reality of history is that many people died—of violence, of disease, of infection, of accidents—and that they were often quite young, especially by our standards, when they did. If my characters often seem callous or matter-of-fact about death, it’s because they expect it. They take it for granted, as we take it for granted that people will die of old age.

I spent much of my time as an academic studying children’s literature and the history of women and children, and this insistence on talking to children about death through stories and songs always struck me. Often the message is disguised, but it’s as if through most of human history, the first thing we’ve wanted to tell children is that life is only for a little while, something that makes sense if you think of the very high mortality rates people dealt with before antibiotics were widely available.

 Many authors like to immerse themselves in their character’s time, be it trying on period clothes, making vintage recipes, or visiting the places where their character might have walked.  Did you do anything of these things to get closer to your story?

 I grew up in the area where The Last Sister is set. When I wasn’t reading, I was playing in the woods, and sometimes I was reading in the woods. That intimate knowledge of the landscape helped a lot, and several specific places found their way into my story, like the creek bed where Catie and Jaime encounter the catamount: my brother and I used to play there, without ever meeting anything worse than a black snake. Fort Loudoun has been reconstructed on its original site, and I spent some time poking around there. That was so helpful in getting a sense of where everything was and how crowded the fort must have been when it was under siege. One of my husband’s hobbies is target shooting, and spending time with weapons similar in size and weight to those Catie would have used was helpful. Without that, I would have had no idea how much a rifle’s recoil can hurt or how awkward it is to carry something as tall as you are.

Do you have other works in process you can tell us about? If so, are you sticking with American history?

I’m querying a novel that’s a total departure from American history, but not from history as a whole. I’d love to write a companion to The Last Sister, but I haven’t started yet. I have a shelf full of books for preliminary research and a very rough idea of the plot, though.

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Courtney McKinney-Whitaker grew up in Greenville, SC and now lives in Peoria, IL with her husband, young daughter, dog/officemate/boss, and cat, where she is very good about working out and eating well and very bad about procrastinating and watching too much TV. As a writer who spends most of her workday alone, she loves (is desperate) to connect with other people: check out her website, her Goodreads page, or her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter @courtneymckwhit.

 

The Horror

The month of October invites a lot of conversation about what scares us. Halloween is the ultimate culprit—people do horror movie marathons and theme parks create haunted houses that you have to sign a waiver to enter. Front yards are full of lynched skeletons and open graves, not to mention the sugar-crazed kids who mob the streets every October 31st.

I tend to avoid scary things. I’m not a fan of slasher movies or rollercoasters and though someone may one day entice me to try skydiving, I feel like I take my life into my hands every time I drive I-80, so parachutes aren’t high on my priority list.

As a writer, however, our fears tend not to be death-defying or phobia-provoking. Generally, we are not Navy Seals or Bear Grylls wannabes. As riveting as Naked and Afraid can be, I’ll never apply just to research a book. To the outside eye, the things that really set a writer’s heart racing may seem mundane. But I’m sure many of you will recognize—and relate with—some of the things on my list.

The_Scream

The Scream, Edvard Munch, 1893.

What scares me most?

  1. Waiting.  Anyone with an active imagination can make the very act of waiting—whether it be for five minutes or five months—an exercise in terror. Waiting to hear back from anyone. Agent, editor, critique partner, reviewer. The horrors that arise can be stifling (they hate it, I’ll never write again, this is the end of my career, they love it but want me to change the main character, they’ll want me to write a book exactly like this next time, etc. etc. etc.) I pity the families and friends of waiting writers.
  1. Failure.  This can be failure on a microscopic level (oh, hell, I got that word wrong) to failure on a global scale (I think I may have made a mistake admitting on a national newspaper website that I totally stalked a book blogger). Usually, the failure is something in between—I won’t get this character to appear on the page as he appears in my mind. I won’t be able to finish this book. I won’t be able to do this topic justice. I won’t sell this book. If this book sells, no one will read it. If people read it, they will hate it. I only have one book in me and it was a fluke and I actually have no idea what I’m doing and my career has ended before it began. Even in the situation where you’ve sold three books to a publisher, a writer can spend the entire time until the third book actually shows up on shelves thinking, “they’re going to cancel my contract.” We can fear every kind of failure, writers.
  1. Success.  You’d think fearing failure and fearing success would be mutually exclusive, but no. If a book gets a lot of buzz before it hits shelves, we can be afraid it won’t live up to the hype. If a book does really well, we can fear that it was a fluke and we’ll never write another (see above). If a book does really, incredibly, amazingly well, what if that paralyzes me and I just can’t write again? (see below). If someone loves (or hates) my book, what if they stalk me?
  1. Anachronism.  This is the term for writers of historical fiction, anyway. For others, it’s the fear of “getting it wrong”. Putting buttons on a Roman tunic or having a 12th century character use the word focus or allowing a Tudor to drink tea. One tiny slip up can feel like the entire world is crashing down upon your head. I’m sure other writers have the same issue—changing a character’s hair color halfway through the book or having someone say, “I know a shortcut from Wandsworth to Heathrow.” (something my husband comments on every single time we watch Love Actually—it totally destroys his suspension of disbelief).
  1. Public speaking. See that leap I made there? From the utterly internal, psychological fears of the writer in the writing process to the external world? That right there is the fear. I can’t tell you how many debut authors I’ve spoken with who are terrified that when their book comes out they will have to get up in front of a group of friends at a launch party and open their mouths to speak. Fear includes public readings and impromptu Q&As. We are not only afraid of being observed by a group of people, we are terrified of saying the wrong thing, offending someone, looking stupid, stuttering and not remembering the title of the book or any of the characters in it. The even bigger fear is that no one will come to hear us speak and we will spend an hour talking to a row of empty chairs and the bookstore maintenance person who sat down on his break and now is too embarrassed to get back up again.
  1. Never writing again. This is my biggest fear. Before Gilt came out, I voiced this (and several other) fears to a writer friend who had published the year before. The fear that if my book didn’t do well, my contract would be cancelled and I’d never write another. She said, “Even if you knew you wouldn’t be published, would you still write?” And my answer was yes. So now I’m afraid that the pain in my wrists will lead to acute neuropathy that will turn into some rare form of disease that no one will be able to diagnose but will render my hands useless. Or I will go blind. Or my brain will be attacked by a flesh-eating virus. And I will never write again. I love it that much, that the worst case scenario for me would be to still be living, but unable to play with words.

We are riddled with fears. Any one of them can be crippling to creativity and several can be crippling psychologically or socially. But we keep doing it. Writing. Querying. Publishing. Public speaking. Because we love it.

This is why I think writers are some of the bravest people I know. We face our fears. And keep going.

What fears have you overcome recently?

Cat Winters and THE CURE FOR DREAMING Interview

CureforDreaming_finalcover (214x324)[1]Today we celebrate the much-anticipated release of THE CURE FOR DREAMING, by our own Cat Winters, available now from Amulet Books, and which Kirkus Reviews calls “[a] gripping, atmospheric story of mind-control and self-determination.” The Corsets, Cutlasses & Candlesticks bloggers interviewed Cat about this, her second YA novel following the stunning IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS.

About the book:

Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud.

Interviewer interjects: “Wow! That sounds really, really cool.”

About Cat Winters:

Cat was born and raised in Southern California, near Disneyland, which may explain her love of haunted mansions, bygone eras, and fantasylands. She received degrees in drama and English from the University of California, Irvine, and formerly worked in publishing. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS, was named a 2014 Morris Award Finalist, a School Library Journal Best Book of 2013, a 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults pick, and a 2013 Bram Stoker Award Nominee. Cat lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two kids.

Our Interview:

From Jennifer McGowan: THE CURE FOR DREAMING is your second book, but it’s a standalone, so you didn’t have a “built in” world to rely upon. What made you choose this subject as the focus for your second novel, and what was the most challenging part of writing it?​

You’re exactly right, Jenn: with standalones you have to start from scratch and build an entirely new world. I began writing THE CURE FOR DREAMING around October 2011, when I was waiting to see if IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS would even sell to a publisher. I didn’t want to put all of my eggs in one basket, so I decided to come up with something entirely new that would still fall into the category of YA Gothic historical fiction.

At the time, I was listening to Kristen Lawrence’s eerie and dreamlike Halloween music (see HalloweenCarols.com), which put me in the mood to write something theatrical and Victorian, with a dash of horror. Erin Morgenstern’s THE NIGHT CIRCUS–a novel about Victorian magicians–was all the rage that fall, so instead of using the same subject matter, I decided to turn my thoughts instead to the idea of a late-nineteenth-century stage hypnotist. For a long while, I had also wanted to write about the suffrage movement in the early twentieth century, and a thought struck me: “What if a man hired a hypnotist to rid his daughter, a budding young suffragist, of her rebellion?”

The most challenging aspect was figuring out how to create the supernatural qualities of the hypnosis itself. I go beyond real hypnosis and allow my character to see the true state of the world and gender roles in 1900 America. I didn’t want to come across as completely anti-man, so I tiptoed on a delicate line, showing that the women’s rights movement has never meant that women hate all men, but still also portraying the stifling restrictions placed upon females in an era when women were treated as second-class citizens. ​

From Laura Golden: Olivia Mead is a strong and headstrong heroine who strikes me as the type who becomes more determined to fight the status quo the more people tell her she should simply follow the rules. Was there a specific woman who inspired Olivia? What parts of her can you see in yourself?

I’m so glad you asked this question, Laura, because I haven’t yet had a chance to talk about the historical figure who inspired one of Olivia’s pivotal scenes: Nellie Bly. I became intrigued by Bly, a pioneering Victorian-era journalist, as a child when I was given a book about her. When Bly was nineteen, she became enraged over a disparaging column in the PITTSBURGH DISPATCH titled “What Girls Are Good For.” She wrote a rebuttal under the name “Lonely Orphan Girl,” and the editor was so impressed, he ended up seeking her out and hiring her as a writer for the newspaper. I won’t say too much about Olivia’s similar experience in THE CURE FOR DREAMING, but she does read an opinion piece that infuriates her and writes an anonymous rebuttal—despite the fact that she’s been hypnotized into verbally silencing her anger.

I see a great deal of myself in Olivia, especially the Olivia who appears at the beginning of the novel (minus the controlling father and Victorian lifestyle). Like her, in high school I was shy and bookish and extremely awkward around boys. Speaking my mind amid people I didn’t know well sent me crawling into my shell. Olivia’s journey toward gaining confidence and strength is certainly one to which I can relate.

​From Sharon Biggs Waller: Hypnosis is such an interesting subject. How much research did you do to learn about it? Actually, what I really want to know: have you ever been hypnotized?

​I’ve had two experiences with hypnosis, Sharon. The first occurred in high school when a stage hypnotist performed in our gym. I remember being flabbergasted by the things he was able to make people do, including convincing my sweet and conservatively dressed Spanish teacher to dance like Madonna—and my teacher started unbuttoning her top in front of everyone! The hypnotist stopped her before things went too far, thankfully, but I remember being shocked and astounded.

In college I took a drama class in which a professor used us as guinea pigs for his theory that actors could perform better under hypnosis. I remember the experience being extremely relaxing. I was aware of everything that happened, but my body felt heavy and utterly at peace . . . and I ended up impressing the professor with whichever Greek tragedy monologue we happened to be performing while hypnotized. I used these two experiences, along with a great deal of research into the techniques of hypnotists and early-Victorian mesmerists, to create the hypnosis scenes in THE CURE FOR DREAMING.

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From J. Anderson Coats: Both IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS and THE CURE FOR DREAMING have a delightful undercurrent of the supernatural running through them. What tips do you have for integrating supernatural elements into historical narratives without one overpowering the other?

I love this question, Jillian. I use two key methods for integrating supernatural elements into my historical narratives:

1. I start with a heightened version of reality that already involves fear. A ghost doesn’t appear in IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS until a hundred or so pages into the novel, but my protagonist, Mary Shelley Black, is already coping with a paranoid world that’s suffering from the strain of a world war, the terror of a lethal flu pandemic, and a growing obsession with spirit photography and séances. Even if my ghost never made his way into the novel, my protagonist would still be frightened. Readers are already expecting to be scared.

The same is true with THE CURE FOR DREAMING. The book opens in a theater on Halloween night in the year 1900. Olivia—a fan of horror novels, especially DRACULA—experiences a hypnotism show on a grand stage filled with glowing jack-o-lanterns, organ music, smoke, and magical young performers dressed in glamorous attire. Her imagination is stirred, even before she’s ever hypnotized. By setting up the scene of an imaginative girl spooked and entranced by the theatrics of a Halloween night, I can then easily walk my readers into my more supernatural scenes.

2. I give plausible explanations to my supernatural elements. My characters typically aren’t born with otherworldly powers. They’re regular people from bygone eras, but something happens to them that triggers the paranormal in their lives. With IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS, Mary Shelley gets struck by lightning and endures a near-death experience that awakens an ability to communicate with spirits (a phenomenon that some real-life near-death experiencers have claimed to have encountered).

In THE CURE FOR DREAMING, Olivia is hypnotized into seeing the world the way it truly is and people for who they really are. In my mind, she’s already a girl who can figure out people’s true natures, but before she’s hypnotized, she doesn’t pay close attention to—or she chooses to ignore—the ugliness and other hard-to-swallow realities around her. The hypnotism holds up a surreal magnifying glass to what she probably already knows to be true. My young hypnotist character, Henri Reverie, uses genuine hypnotism commands and methods, grounding the book in reality, but the result goes a step beyond normal hypnotherapy.

​From Katherine Longshore: As a person who loves great titles but finds it impossible to think of one, I have to ask—where did THE CURE FOR DREAMING come from? And can you tell us a little about how it applies to Olivia’s story?

Oh, thank you, Katy. I’m glad you like the title! I started off calling the book THE MESMERIST, but, as my agent and I both agreed, it seemed like we could try for something with a little more pizzazz. When I first sent the proposal to my agent, I included this sentence: “I’m currently calling the book THE CURE FOR DREAMING, but I’ve been compiling a list of other potential titles, such as MESMERIZING, HEAR ONLY ME, WHEN YOU AWAKEN, and THE AWAKENING OF OLIVIA MEAD.” She liked THE CURE FOR DREAMING the best.

The name came to me in the middle of one of my title-creating brainstorming sessions. I realized the main issue in the book is that a man is trying to cure his daughter of her “unladylike” dreams of voting and receiving a higher education, and it hit me: why not call the novel THE CURE FOR DREAMING? I immediately ran the title past my sister, who loved it, partly because she’s a big fan of the band The Cure. :)

From Jessica Spotswood: What’s the most interesting bit of research you found for THE CURE FOR DREAMING?

Ooh, Jess, that’s a hard one for me to decide. I found so many fascinating details about women’s suffrage and stage hypnotism, but I will say I particularly loved diving into all the gory details about Victorian dentistry. Originally, I made Olivia’s overbearing father a doctor, but I realized how much creepier he’d be if he were a dentist—and how his fondness of extracting patients’ teeth would correlate well with his desire to remove his daughter’s rebellion from her head. My starting point was a book called THE EXCRUCIATING HISTORY OF DENTISTRY: TOOTHSOME TALES & ORAL ODDITIES FROM BABYLON TO BRACES, by James Wynbrandt (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2000). Some of my favorite finds made their way into the novel, such as the tendency of dentists to use leeches on patients’ inflamed gums to suck out the blood.

From Susan Hill Long: Cat, the wraparound cover of THE CURE FOR DREAMING– gorgeous and evocative! Can you tell us a little bit about what went into the making of it?

I’m glad you love the dust jacket as much as I do, Sue! The scene on the front cover is a photograph of an actual hypnotized Victorian girl. I found the image when I first researched late-nineteenth-century stage hypnotism, and I included the photo inside the manuscript, right before the opening chapter. My Amulet Books editor, Maggie Lehrman, and designer, Maria T. Middleton, liked the image so much, they decided to use it on the cover.

I love how Maria chose to place only half of the image on the cover. It looks like the young woman is floating off the chair. When you look at the dust jacket on the hardcover, however, you’ll see, as you just said, that the image wraps around to the back. In some ways, I think the full image, which includes ropes tied around the young woman’s legs, is even more shocking than the idea of her levitating.

You can see the full photograph—minus the color and the spooky wallpaper created by Maria—in the novel’s book trailer:

Thank you for chatting with me, ladies!