Monday, October 6, 2014

Feral by Holly Schindler blog tour with interview, book trailer and giveaway

Hello and welcome to Reader Girls on this fine Monday. It feels like fall where we live and we're happy about that. Our feature today is our tour stop on the Feral blog tour. I have read this YA psychological thriller and will post my review later today. We welcome author Holly Schindler back to our blog and share our interview with her. She is not only a fantastic author but also a lovely person to deal with. Thank you, Holly! And thank you dear readers for your support of our blog and for the books and authors we showcase every day. Enjoy this tour stop and enter the giveaway.

Feral by Holly Schindler
YA mystery/horror
Hardcover/eBook432 pages
Published August 26th 2014 by HarperTeen

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 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 classic psychological thriller allowed me to explore that frightening process in detail. 

How can you juggle YA and MG?  Is one harder than the other to write?  Do you have a favorite?

I actually write in more age groups and genres than YA and MG.  My writing interests tend to be every bit as varied as my reading interests (I read everything from juvenile to adult, comedy to mystery to romance to sci-fi to literary…)

One of the aspects of my career that I’m most proud of is that I immediately started branching out right from the beginning, rather than establishing myself as strictly a YA author or romance writer, etc.  Of course, there’s something to be said for author branding, but I know I’d wind up feeling stifled pretty quickly.

As far as what comes most naturally to me as an author, that’s metaphorical, poetic writing.  What I find more difficult is describing physical action as it’s happening.  I have a great respect for authors who work in any action-oriented genre.

I do have plenty of work in the pipeline, though, and will be branching out again in the future. 

You also write covering an expansive divide—contemporary to topical issues like mental issue and mysteries, even romance—does each story’s theme come easily to you or do you decide once you have the characters in mind?

Each book is a completely different process:
My firsts two YAs started with themes—mental illness and creativity (A BLUE SO DARK), and learning the difference between loving someone and being IN love with someone (PLAYING HURT).
In THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, the book started out with a character: Gus.  Once I had Gus down, I worked my way toward the folk art element. 

With FERAL, I started out with an MG mystery.  During revision, the book took on a dark tone—so much so, I realized it needed to be bumped up to YA.  That meant brainstorming a new, older main character.  When I did, I discovered her backstory—that she’d endured a brutal gang beating in Chicago.  Once I had that, I knew the central theme of that book was recovering from violence.

You are traditionally published and yet I see the amount of work you put into getting your books out there.  What advice would you give new authors seeking to publish?

The publishing industry is currently in a state of flux, due to a great extent to the rise of e-books.  Reading habits have completely changed since I started writing full-time back in ’01.  Because reading habits have changed, that means book buying habits have changed, as well.  I’m a reader myself, and I no longer browse in bookstores—I “browse” online, by visiting various blogs, Twitter, etc.

I keep my own book-buying habits in mind as I think about promoting my own work. Travel and in-person author events are expensive and (in my own experience) rarely effective. I prefer to make use of the blogosphere as a writer—the same blogosphere I make use of as a reader. 

Besides providing a venue where I can discuss my latest releases, the blogosphere also allows me to interact with my readers in a way I never would have been able to otherwise.  I’m grateful every day for book bloggers.

But that doesn’t mean that other means of promotion don’t work—they just haven’t been as effective for me.  Just as every author has a unique path to publication, so do they all have their own unique path to finding their readers.  My only advice to debut authors would be to get out there and try it all—find out what promotional tools fit for you.

Your novel is being called “creepy,” “dark,” and “unique.”  Many mention the twists and turns of the story.  How did Claire’s story come about?  How was it coming from writing THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY to this dark YA?

It’s funny—I don’t necessarily feel like I’ve suddenly come to a dark place once I start drafting dark work.  It honestly feels like I’m flexing many of the same muscles—building characters, creating conflict and rising action, etc.
The promotion’s been different for both books—even though I’m centering my promotion efforts for both books online.  I find that teachers have been my best source of word-of-mouth activity for the MG, especially via Twitter.  #mglitchat, #nerdybookclub, #4thchat, #5th chat have all been really helpful—as have classroom Skypes.  For the YA, I’ve been reaching out to the readership directly, though a blog tour that involved a pretty extensive ARC outreach (the most extensive ARC distribution I’ve ever had).

Is your writing career what you thought it would be? 

I think a lot of writers—and I was certainly one—assume that selling your first book means that everything changes.  You’ve got your toe in the door of the publishing world, and it becomes relatively smooth sailing.  Not so.  Publishing is a never-ending roller-coaster of highs and lows, of selling work and rejections, of good reviews and crummy reviews, of being excited by sales number and disappointed by sales numbers…

I’ve come to realize that the only sure-thing about publishing is that it’s NEVER smooth sailing.  But I love the work far too much to ever let it get me down.  I’m a writer through-and-through, and will be for the rest of my life.

What can readers / fans expect from you next and in 2015?
I’ve already finished my next MG and YA; I’ll also be branching out into new avenues and genres in the near future.  Be sure to follow along at Twitter: @holly_schindler and Facebook: for the latest!

About the author:
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:

There is a tour-wide giveaway of a signed copy of FERAL (running from Sept. 27- Oct. 13):
a Raffle copter giveaway

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