1) What was your inspiration behind the storyline for The Vespertine? How about the characters?
I wanted to write a gothic novel, something like JANE EYRE or WUTHERING HEIGHTS-- where there was madness, and crazy, dangerous love, and hints of the otherworldly. One of the things I've always loved about gothic novels is how bombastic and over the top they are. And how they all seem to incorporate supernatural elements in a completely matter-of-fact way. (Like, in WUTHERING HEIGHTS, a ghost shows up once. That's it. Just a little supernatural flavor to go with the drama!)
Choosing that style of novel informed the characters. but I admit, none of the characters ever turned out as extreme as I had planned. Well, except for August. He does still lock his ruined sister in the attic!
2) Which character(s) do you find most enjoyable to write about? If you could bring this character into our reality what kind of relationship would you have with them?
I think I probably enjoyed writing Zora and Amelia, together, the most. Their friendship was so much fun to discover. They can be silly, they can be serious, and they're truly allies. And they made me laugh, a lot!
3) Which part of the novel did you have to research for the most? What made you want to include it in your novel?
So much of this book, I was using research I had already done for some other short fiction pieces. I spent a lot of time learning household details this time, and oh man, SO much time working on the wardrobes! I have no fewer than four period clothing books, and I had them constantly open on my desk! But without a doubt, the concept of the Fourteenth - guests hired to fill out a dinner table, so there wouldn't be an unlucky 13 guests- fascinated me. I knew from the time I wrote the first line that there would be a fourteenth in this book somewhere!
The first book I ever wrote was a historical; the dream book I have in my head, that I'm just not talented or experienced enough to write yet is a historical. I love history, I love fiction-- and I've spent my whole career writing for teens. Putting them together was completely natural.
5) What was the worst aspect of your writing experience?
Revising! Writing this book was a dream; I had so much fun, and it flowed the whole time. But going back to revise was a nightmare. I locked the characters into a really rigid schedule- X happened on this day, Y happened on another day. That made it difficult to add and remove scenes, and to move things to make the emotional arc make more sense. This book taught me to keep a calendar on my desk- but to keep the calendar in the book vague!
6) Will The Vespertine have a sequel? If so, what can you tell us about it?
Not a sequel exactly-- there will be a companion novel in 2012, called THE SPRINGSWEET. One of the characters from THE VESPERTINE heads out west to start a new life, but to say more would be a spoiler!
Thanks so much for stopping by, Saundra! I cannot wait until the release of Springsweet!
And how about you, my lovely readers? What do you think?
Be sure to look out for The Vespertine coming March 7th of this year, as well as my review which will feature a brief interview with Saundra Mitchell to go along with my Make a Wish at 11 | 11 feature!
About the author: Saundra Mitchell is a longtime screenwriter and author. Random House's Delacorte Press published her debut novel, Shadowed Summer, on February 10th, 2009. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's will publish her next novel, The Vespertine, with its companion novel, The Springsweet following in Spring 2012.
Thanks for reading! :D