I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Katherine Arden’s The Girl in the Tower today, and I have a Q&A with Katherine to share with you, as well as the opportunity to win a copy of both The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, courtesy of the publisher, Ebury.
About the Books
The Bear and the Nightingale (Book One in the Winternight Trilogy)
Frost-demons have no interest in mortal girls wed to mortal men. In the stories, they only come for the wild maiden.
In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.
But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods…
Atmospheric and enchanting, with an engrossing adventure at its core, The Bear and the Nightingale is perfect for readers of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Neil Gaiman.
You can read my review here.
The Girl in the Tower (Book 2 in the Winternight Trilogy)
For a young woman in medieval Russia, the choices are stark: marriage or a life in a convent. Vasya will choose a third way: magic…
The court of the Grand Prince of Moscow is plagued by power struggles and rumours of unrest. Meanwhile bandits roam the countryside, burning the villages and kidnapping its daughters. Setting out to defeat the raiders, the Prince and his trusted companion come across a young man riding a magnificent horse.
Only Sasha, a priest with a warrior’s training, recognises this ‘boy’ as his younger sister, thought to be dead or a witch by her village. But when Vasya proves herself in battle, riding with remarkable skill and inexplicable power, Sasha realises he must keep her secret as she may be the only way to save the city from threats both human and fantastical…
You can read my review here.
Q & A with Katherine Arden
- For those who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself, please?
I am an American writer who was born in Texas but now lives in Vermont. I studied Russian in school and worked odd jobs while writing my first book, The Bear and the Nightingale.
- Have you always wanted to write?
No. I thought of doing all kinds of things. If I weren’t a writer I’d probably be an interpreter.
- Moving on to your books, two novels of the Winternight trilogy – The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower – have been published. Can you tell us a little about them?
They are set in Russia during the Middle Ages and they are a cross between Russian history and Slavic folklore and fairy tales.
- What was the inspiration for these novels?
I have a degree in Russian, and I have always loved Russian fairy tales, so writing a book set in Russia and based on a fairy tale was a natural progression. The specific story grew in the telling.
- The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower borrow quite heavily from Russian folklore, and go far beyond Baba Yaga – was this difficult to research?
No – it was plenty of work, but there are books on the topic if you are willing to dig them up.
- Through both books, I’ve loved the Domovoi who can help or hinder on a whim. Do you have a personal favourite, and if you had to live with one, which would it be?
I’d love a domovoi to help around the house. Although my personal favorite has always been the bannik, the bathhouse spirit. So mischievous.
- I absolutely adore Vasya! Whilst she lives in a different time, I think that she delivers a strong feminist message about choosing your own path that is relevant today. Is this something that is important to you?
- There’s is one more novel to come in the Winternight series – what can readers expect?
Romance. Death. Personal growth.
- And after that?
I have a horror novel for younger readers called Small Spaces, coming out in September in the US. After that we will see.
- Looking a little at the writing process, are you a planner, or do you just write and see where the story goes?
I just write and see where the story goes.
- How long did it take you to write your two novels?
It kind of went in fits and starts, but I started writing The Bear and the Nightingale in 2011 and the final book was published in January 2017. I started writing The Girl in the Tower in the spring of 2016 and it was just published.
- What sort of novels do you like to read, and who are your favourite authors?
I love fantasy and historical fiction. Favorite writers: Dorothy Dunnett, Mary Renault, Daphne DuMaurier, Patrick O’Brien, Naomi Novik, Hilary Mantel.
- Finally, a question that I like to ask everyone – what are the three best pieces of advice you’ve ever been given? (not necessarily writing specific)
Finish what you start
Don’t give up
Many thanks to Katherine for taking the time to answer a few questions.
As part of the blog tour, I’m delighted to be able to offer one reader the opportunity to win a paperback copy of The Bear and the Nightingale, and a hardback copy of The Girl in the Tower. This giveaway is open to UK residents only, and you must be willing to share your postal address with me so that I can send you your prizes! To enter, leave a comment on this blog post answering this question:
Katherine’s novels feature elements of Russian fairy tales and folklore. What is your favourite fairy tale or story from folklore?
I’ll pick a winner at random from all entries on 24th January.
Make sure you check out the other stops on the blog tour!