Saturday, September 27, 2014

Feral Blog Tour - Interview with Holly Schindler

Your new book, FERAL, was released on August 26.  Can you tell readers a bit about 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….

FERAL’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.
FERAL takes on a different subject matter and genre than your past books.  What inspired you to write a YA thriller?
You’re right—FERAL is quite different from my previous releases (a YA literary problem novel, a YA romance, an MG contemporary realistic read).  I’m a serious fan of vintage movies—especially Hitchcock.  That really helped shape FERAL, which is a psychological thriller, in the classic sense. 
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 conventions of the classic psychological thriller allowed me to explore that frightening process in detail. 
Can you talk a bit about your road to being published?  How do things change once you’re an established author?
My road to the first publication was really long: it took seven and a half years of full-time effort to land my first deal. 
My first two books (both YAs) were with a smaller house.  I actually handled the first two deals myself; shortly thereafter, I signed with an agent who wanted to represent my MG. 
I know most people assume an agent is a magical creature who can instantly open doors in the publishing world.  In reality, it took my own agent a year and a half to sell my MG (THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, which released with Dial / Penguin earlier this year).  At that point, I knew I wanted to bring the agent in on the rest of my work—including the YAs.  We agreed that it was time to seek a larger house to publish the YAs as well…But even with an agent and two YAs (one of which was critically acclaimed, having earned a starred review and several awards) on my side, it took a year to sell my third YA, FERAL, to HarperTeen. 
When I started out, I assumed that selling the first book would change everything.  That once I’d inked the first contract, I’d be “in” the publishing world, and my work would be handled differently.  Not so.  Just as the world doesn’t magically change by signing with the agent, the world doesn’t change once you’ve sold a few books, either.  It’s still a process of submission and rejection. 
That’s an important distinction, though: the PROCESS remains the same.  Am I the same person I was when I jumped into my pursuit of publication?  No.  I know myself as an author far better than I did when I was starting out.  I know what I want my books to say.  And that makes the process far less scary.  I also don’t have the same approach to finding a publishing house that I did when I was seeking my first book deal.  I don’t just want my book to be accepted by a house, I want my book to find the RIGHT house, the right editor who recognizes and connects with what I’m doing. 
What are five books that you would suggest every teen read?
1.   CATCHER IN THE RYE – Salinger.  It’s considered, by some, to be the first YA novel written.
2.   SPEAK – Anderson.  I consider it a seminal work in contemporary YA literature.
3.   ELSEWHERE – Zevin.  My favorite YA read.
4.   TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD – Lee.  You’ll probably get this one assigned to you in class—I did.  And it was hands-down my favorite high school read.
5.   A book outside of your usual genre of preference.  I think it’s important to move outside of your comfort zone.  Reading tastes are somewhat like food preferences—a lot of it’s based on trial and error and multiple exposures.  Just because you didn’t much care for literary reads a few years ago doesn’t mean you won’t like them now.  Give a new genre a shot, keeping an open mind.
What’s next for you, any new books in the work?
Youbetcha!  I’m always working on something new…In fact, I recently finished both my next YA and MG, and I’m working on branching out into new genres.  Be sure to follow along with me on Twitter: @Holly_Schindler and to keep up to date with the latest news!

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,, @holly_schindler,, and

FERAL Trailer:
Rafflectopter form for a giveaway of a signed copy of FERAL (running from Sept. 27- Oct. 13):


Copyright ©2009-2013 Cornucopia of Reviews. All Rights Reserved.