This month we have had some amazing guest posts and interviews with our favorite authors. Today's author, Jennifer Donnelly, not only committed to an interview, but she sent one of the best guest posts ever! I actually had chills, goosies, goosebumps, and any other word you can think of after reading this. Take a look...
A man with weird markings on his face showed up in my head. He had long dark hair and was wearing clothes from another time.
Who are you? I asked him. What do you want?
But he wouldn’t answer. He just lay in his coffin with his hands folded over his chest, decay beginning to creep. He wouldn’t leave, either. And since he wasn’t going to explain himself, I needed someone who would.
That’s when other people started showing up: a teenaged reporter named Eddie, a thief lord called the Tailor; Oscar, a coroner’s assistant. And a girl. Her name was Josephine Montfort.
Jo immediately intrigued me. I could tell she was wealthy and educated from the way she dressed and spoke. And yet, something wasn’t quite right. I sensed that her porcelain coolness was only a veneer, and that underneath it, a fierce intelligence burned. In her gray eyes, I glimpsed a restless longing.
As my characters do, Jo made me work to get to know her. As she labored to uncover the dead man’s story, I labored to uncover hers.
I learned that she’d been born into an old and distinguished New York family, and that she led a life of privilege. Jo was fortunate in many ways, but she didn’t have the one thing she wanted the most: freedom.
So few young women of the 1890s did. Poor girls were expected to work, as early as possible. Wealthy ones were expected to marry, as well as possible. As I researched These Shallow Graves, I met many of these young women.
I met Edith Jones, brilliant and misunderstood, and watched her marry the wrong man and live the wrong life—until she found the right life, and became Edith Wharton.
I met eighteen-year-old Lizzie Schauer who was arrested, imprisoned, and subjected to medical examinations to determine whether or not she was of good character – all for the “crime” of being an unaccompanied female walking alone in the city at night.
I met Consuelo Vanderbilt, a teenage heiress, forced to marry the Duke of Marlborough, a man she didn’t love, to satisfy her domineering mother’s social ambitions.
I met scores of teenage girls for whom education was only a dream—and the factory floor or scullery or sweatshop, a reality.
Edith eventually broke free. Consuelo, too. I doubt poor Lizzie, or the scullery girls, ever did.
I so badly wanted Jo to. And thanks to the dead man, she finally did. He gave Jo her life, and by the end of the book, he gave me my peace. He stopped haunting me and went on his way.
Jo’s on her way now, too. And I can’t wait to see where life takes her.
I still have chills! This explanation of how These Shallow Graves came about is the best thing EVER! I love it to pieces! Jennifer thank you sooo much for sharing this me and our readers!
And because Jennifer is beyond awesome she signed up for an interview with me as well!
1. I love the time period These Shallow Graves is in! If you lived in 1890 which type of life would you want to have a newsie, a pick pocket, or a debutante?
I would have loved to have been a reporter during the 1890s. NYC's papers were intensely competitive. The atmosphere was rough and tumble, and I would have loved to have been a part of it. Many reporters zoomed around town on bikes to get their stories, and get back to the newsroom as quickly as possible. Homing pigeons would be sent from high profile court cases to newsrooms with artist sketches of the defendant folded into a capsule on the birds' legs. And one of the first female journalists, Nellie Bly, faked insanity, got herself committed to an asylum on Blackwell's Island, and then exposed the abuses inflicted on the asylum's female patients. Her work sparked outrage and changed the way the mentally ill were treated in New York. She's a heroine to Jo, and to me.
2. Throughout your revision process were there any characters that ended up dying in the final version that hadn't died in the previous ones and vice versa did any survive that hadn't originally? I know you can't name names, but I just learned that this sometimes happens so I am very curious if you experienced this in your writing =)
3. Can you please, pretty pretty please write a novella about Oscar??!! He's such an interesting character!
I would LOVE to write more about Oscar. I adore him! He came on the scene, and proceeded to take up many more pages than I thought he would. I think about him all the time and wonder what he's up to. Same for Fay.
4. If Jo and Eddie were going to a Halloween party what costumes would they wear?
Poe and Annabel Lee
5. If you were going to a seance which 2 authors would you want by your side and why?
Emily Bronte and Caitlyn Doughty, because I think those two know from ghosts and would keep me sane and seated when I felt like running screaming out of the room.
I love that you chose Emily Bronte! I have to say that would be pretty awesome.
Jennifer thanks again for being amazing! I can't wait to see what's next up for you and in the mean time I'm definitely going to pick up Deep Blue ASAP!
*still crossing fingers for more Oscar & Fay!*
Find the Author:
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
Publisher: Random House Delacorte
Release Date: Octovere 27th, 2015
Set in gilded age New York, These Shallow Graves follows the story of Josephine Montfort, an American aristocrat. Jo lives a life of old-money ease. Not much is expected of her other than to look good and marry well. But when her father dies due to an accidental gunshot, the gilding on Jo’s world starts to tarnish. With the help of a handsome and brash reporter, and a young medical student who moonlights in the city morgue, Jo uncovers the truth behind her father’s death and learns that if you’re going to bury the past, you’d better bury it deep.