Hey folks, and happy Wednesday. Feeling a bit of a chill in the air? Yep, summer is starting to fade (at least in some parts of the world!) and there’s a hint of cold in the distance. So what better time to have a bit of a chat with Kate Boorman, debut author of the atmospheric YA novel, Winterkill.
Emmeline knows she’s not supposed to explore the woods outside her settlement. The enemy that wiped out half her people lurks there, attacking at night and keeping them isolated in an unfamiliar land with merciless winters. Living with the shame of her grandmother’s insubordination, Emmeline has learned to keep her head down and her quick tongue silent.
When the settlement leader asks for her hand in marriage, it’s an opportunity for Emmeline to wash the family slate clean—even if she has eyes for another. But before she’s forced into an impossible decision, her dreams urge her into the woods, where she uncovers a path she can’t help but follow. The trail leads to a secret that someone in the village will kill to protect. Her grandmother followed the same path and paid the price. If Emmeline isn’t careful, she will be next.
WINTERKILL was published on September 9, 2014 by Amulet Books.
1. Hi Kate. Congratulations on your publication of Winterkill. I remember when you revealed your amazing cover and I went “Wow!”, and then I read the description and went “Double wow!” and headed straight for the Fifteeners board to ask if I could be the one to read it and interview you. So, can you tell us a little bit about where the idea of Winterkill came from?
Thanks so much, Patrick — and thanks for having me on the Fearless Fifteeners! The idea for Winterkill was born of my penchant for creepy things, my love affair with the Canadian wilderness, and my desire to work through the concept of fear—how it motivates and inhibits us. The opening scene with my main character Emmeline was the story seed and it grew from there as I figured out who she was, what she was afraid of, and what she desired most.
2. Your heroine, Emmeline, is an extremely believable teenager. She’s rebelling against the claustrophobic strictures of her very closed society, which considers her ‘stained’ by the sins of her grandmother, while coping with both unwanted and wanted romantic attention, and showing a hint of teenage self-absorption. That conflict of the how you are perceived with romantic feelings and frustration with the world is something that most teenagers will be able to identify with. So, is Emmeline based on anyone in particular you know, and if you say ‘no’, is that actually true…?
No! Actually true! Though I think Emmeline embodies what, for me, is so interesting about being a young adult. It’s a time that is really complex and rife for dramatic tension because when at that age you are brimming with ideas and energy and passion, but you often lack the agency to act on these things, for a variety of reasons. In Em’s case, those reasons are a little extreme—it’s not just parental surveillance; it’s societal surveillance. But her distorted perception of herself, her frustration with authority, her desire— all of that, I think, is pretty universal to the teen experience.
3. I could really feel the last heat of the summer and the terrifying cold of approaching winter. Is this based on personal experience?
Totally. The winter described in the book is a heightened version of the winter we experience on the Canadian prairies. And it was certainly inspired by what winter might be like a hundred years ago, with no fossil fuel-created luxuries. Each year, where I live, there is a palpable sense of foreboding as autumn graduates to winter (although with central heating and hot water, it’s far less terrifying than in the book).
4. Winterkill is an extremely atmospheric and tense book. What was your favorite part to write?
I think Emmeline’s adventures into the woods were my favourite parts, because there is an element of wonder and excitement there, undercut by fear. Also, I have a thing for trees.
5. What cool facts can you tell us about you that readers might not know?
Cool facts, hmmm. I was born in Nepal. And… I taught myself to play accordion (though, disclaimer: I play piano). And… I’ve been to many places on the earth, including Easter Island— that was pretty cool.
6. You’re stranded on a desert island (no, no, you really are…). What books would you choose to have washed up with you. I’ll give you six. Or maybe a different number. Depending.
Is there a book that teaches you to build a working plane from coconut trees to take you back home? Because that one. I have no desire to be stranded in water; I’m a prairies girl, through and through. But then, while I’m building the plane: The Lord of the Rings (that’s technically three right there— oh whelp!), 1984 (Orwell), Oryx and Crake (Atwood), Different Seasons (novellas by Stephen King), and…..The Magic Faraway Tree (Enid Blyton— yes, it’s for small children).
7. There are two sequels to Winterkill due out in 2015 and 2016. Without giving away too many spoilers for Winterkill, what can you tell us about these books?
I can tell you that they will be rife with grand and rollicking adventures out in the wilderness with creepy things and wondrous things and good guys and bad guys. There is dying, there is kissing. More secrets, more mysteries… Geez, that’s vague. But it’s actually really hard to talk about them without spoiling the first book!
8. As you’re doing this interview for the Fearless Fifteeners, we want to know one thing you’re afraid of and one thing you’re not afraid of.
My worst-kept secret is that I am very afraid of birds. I am not afraid of navigating foreign, busy cities (except for those pigeon-filled town squares GAH!).
Thanks, Kate! It was a pleasure having you stop by!
ABOUT KATE A. BOORMAN
Kate Boorman is a writer from the Canadian prairies. She has a Master of Arts in Dramatic Critical Theory, and a work resume full of the usual, whacky assortment of jobs.
Kate spent much of her childhood reading books instead of being useful around the house, and now she writes them, which means she is still not very useful. She is fond of beautiful-creepy things, good chocolate, and cozy slippers (all three are an essential part of her writing process).
She also loves to dig in the dirt, and sit under starry skies with her friends, and travel to far off lands with her husband and two children.
The Winterkill trilogy is her YA fiction debut.
You can also find her YA short story “The Memory Junkies” in the Canadian speculative fiction anthology Tesseracts 15: A Case of Quite Curious Tales. It’s about nostalgia-terrorists.
|Dinosaur hunter. Accidental archeologist. Armchair adventurer. Some of these things may not be true about Patrick Samphire. What is true is that Patrick is the author of the extremely thrilling and sometimes funny middle grade adventure, Secrets of the Dragon Tomb (Christy Ottaviano Books / Henry Holt / Macmillan), coming your way in Spring 2015. He lives in Wales, U.K., where it occasionally doesn’t rain.|