In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?
Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.
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1.Describe your book in one sentence?In 1918, a sixteen-year-old girl must face a world war, a deadly flu, and the ghost of her first love.
That strange and sad history fascinated me, and when I grew up, I again stumbled upon those fake fairy photos, this time in a magazine article that also described the popularity of séances during the time period. It would take me several manuscript attempts before I came up with a plot that I felt did justice to this early-twentieth-century belief in spirits and supernatural photos, but that's how In the Shadow of Blackbirds first came into being.
3. Favorite character, why?
I have a soft spot in my heart for my protagonist, Mary Shelley Black. She can be stubborn and short-tempered at times, but she's also curious and compassionate and would go to the ends of the earth to help someone she loves. Plus she's really handy to have around the house. She loves to take things apart and figure out how to fix them, so whenever one of my own household appliances has a problem, I wish my brain was a little more like hers.
4. Your most anticipated book/s to read this year?
I still need to catch up on some 2012 releases I've been dying to read, like Gillian Flynn's GONE GIRL and Elizabeth Wein's CODE NAME VERITY. Ruta Sepetys's OUT OF THE EASY is currently sitting on my to-read pile, calling my name. Through my involvement in the group The Lucky 13s, I've gotten the chance to read early copies of several books by 2013 debut YA and middle-grade novelists, and I can honestly say that this is an outstanding year for diverse and gripping new fiction.
5. Favorite Starbucks drink?
Tall hot chocolates. I'm not a coffee fan, but I have a weakness for coffeehouse hot chocolates topped with whipped cream. Yummm...