Wednesday, September 17, 2014

FERAL Blog Tour

Today I have Holly Schindler for a blog tour stop. I love her YA and MG books and I look forward to reading FERAL. Congrats on your latest release, Holly.

Has anyone peculiar in real life ever inspired you to create a character based on him or her?

Honestly, I’ve never directly based my characters in my books on anyone in real life.  (Although, I have to say I do love the use of the word “peculiar” in this question so much, I wish I could say I had!)  I always take it as a real compliment when I’m asked this question, because it seems to me that this means my characters feel “real” to the reader.  It feels to them like the person they’ve just met on the page has to have been someone I knew or witnessed in real life. 

Rather than basing characters on people I’ve personally known, though, I often build characters based on what I think their “unvarnished truth” might be.
A novel is a unique experience for a reader because it allows for an inside look into someone’s head.  That never happens anywhere else.  So I feel like a big part of my job as a novelist is to give an honest, unfiltered glimpse into a character’s thoughts.  It shouldn’t be prettied-up or polite.  It should be bare and brutal and unyielding.  (What a character says or does is different—that IS meant for public consumption.) 

FERAL has plenty of brutal passages: the gang beating that nearly ends the life of Claire Cain, the protagonist, is one such passage.  But so are the details of the not-so-pretty truth about Claire’s relationship with her best friend as she begins the healing process.

In my novel, Claire is the victim of that gang beating—in part—because she has stepped in to save her best friend, Rachelle, from being wrongly accused of something she didn’t do (the gang acts in retaliation against Claire ratting them out).  I’m sure we’d all like to say we wouldn’t blame our best friend, if put in Claire’s situation…But WOULD we?  Really?  Deep inside, where no one else can hear our thoughts, WOULD we simply move forward, no bad feeling ever being directed toward her?  Claire’s life—her physicality and appearance—has been forever changed.  Rachelle’s has not.  She continues to move through school as though nothing has changed.  Is it possible to be entirely okay with that?  Or would there be resentment?  How could you move past that?

In FERAL, the things Claire thinks about her best friend are far from kind; some thoughts are quite vicious, actually.  But then again, everyone harbors wicked thoughts at some point in his or her life.  Things we would never say out loud.  I believe exploring the hidden truths of human nature is actually one of the most important jobs a novelist has.

FERAL jacket copy:
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 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 Bio:
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

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