Saturday, October 12, 2013

Interview + Giveaway with Sonia Gensler, author of The Dark Between

Today I have the enormous pleasure of welcoming author Sonia Gensler to the blog as part of our Spook-tastic Halloween event! Sonia is here to talk about her recently released YA Gothic mystery, The Dark Between, and share with us her favorite Halloween-y reads and spooky stories!

I absolutely LOVED The Dark Between. It's such a beautifully written, atmospheric story set against a fabulous historical backdrop. It has ghosts and mysteries and many fascinating characters! Oh! And did you know?! Sonia has a whole image board filled with photos that inspired the story - they're gorgeous and intriguing, and you can check them out here: CLICK 

I also have the pleasure of hosting a giveaway of her fantastic book, so be sure to scroll all the way down and enter! :) Trust me, you want it!!!

Hi Sonia! It's a great pleasure to have you stopping by Bookish! Thanks for taking part in our Halloween Event. Congrats on your most recent release, The Dark Between! *throws confetti in the air* How would you describe it to those who haven't heard of it yet?

Thanks so much for hosting me! I would describe the book as a Gothic mystery in which three teens delve into the paranormal in order to investigate the suspicious death of a friend in 1901 Cambridge, England.

Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind it? 

The idea really took hold after I read Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death, the true story of a group of 19th century scholars who attempted to study paranormal phenomena in an unbiased, scientific manner. I found myself totally hooked on the drama and conflict of their quest for truth, and I felt like their lives would have made great fodder for a film or cable series. In the end, however, I was more interested in what life might have been like for their teenaged children, especially if one of them had a paranormal ability that her parents found threatening enough to suppress with medication.

What were the challenges in bringing this story to life? Did you have to do any research for your book?

Since I tend to write historicals, I always end up doing a great deal of research. But this is totally okay with me because research is my favorite part of the writing process! For The Dark Between, I read books about psychical researchers and mediums. I studied the history of Cambridge University, particularly Trinity College and Newnham College (the inspiration for Summerfield). I researched commonly prescribed narcotics and the medical uses of electricity, as well as 1901 fashion and furnishings and social customs. It was a lot of reading, some of it quite challenging, and I truly loved every second of it. 

What was the most fun part of writing your book? 

I mentioned above how much I love research, but the most fun part was spending time in Cambridge, England. I spend summers with my husband in Oxford, which is a grand university city, but Cambridge is a bit smaller and cozier. I've visited in the spring, summer and winter, and it never ceases to impress me with its history and beauty. You can see more of this university town in my Dark Between Flickr set or in the "Behind the Scenes" video I made this past summer.

Can you share with us a few of your favorite quotes from The Dark Between?

How about this passage from chapter 1, in which Kate Poole performs at a seance as the spirit apparition:

The next bit was her favorite. She pulled the shroud to her shoulders, revealing her face.

More than one lady cried out. A gentleman cleared his throat. Again there was a rustling of fabric as people shifted in their seats. Kate well knew how her brown eyes, rimmed with kohl, appeared as gaping holes in the unnatural paleness of her face. In that moment she didn't care that the luminous powder wrecked her skin, or that the wig made her scalp itch and sweat. Nor did it shame her that the costume -- a gauzy wrap draped over the merest of underpinnings -- left her exposed and shivering. In the dim light of the parlor, she was a wraith from a horror tale.

And she held them all under her spell.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

In all my stories I try to communicate the benefits of self-reliance. Since I write historicals set in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, I particularly like to show women who are intellectual, who crave a good education and possibly a profession, and/or who are passionate and creative in ways that don't necessarily match the feminine ideal for that time period.

Halloween is almost upon us. To me that means horror movie nights with popcorn, tricks and (hopefully) stacks of yummy treats, and, perhaps most of all, the chance to scare someone and experience the thrill of being scared myself. What does Halloween mean to you? 

To me Halloween means Autumn, which is my favorite season of the year. The pumpkin displays, the changing color of leaves, the crispness to the air -- it's all so delicious. Halloween is also the time when I like to revisit some of my favorite ghost movies. This year I'm due for a re-watch of The Orphanage, The Changeling, and The Others

Do you have any real-life spooky stories to share with us? Any supernatural experiences or blood-chilling encounters? 

I grew up convinced that my dad's house was haunted. I would stay up half the night cringing at the creaks and groans that grew louder and more anguished with each passing minute. (It didn't help that my stepmother had told me of a night when she was working in the basement and was certain she heard a ghost treading the wood floors above her.) One night, when the noises were particularly intense, and I was sitting up in my bed praying for it to be silent so I could sleep, the closet door opened on its own. My heart nearly leapt into my throat! But instead of hiding under the covers, I jumped out of the bed and shut the door, putting my back against it to keep whatever was in there from coming out. It took a long time for my heart to calm down, but eventually I went back to the bed and fell asleep. To this day the house continues to creak and groan, but it doesn't keep me up at night anymore. At least, not as often. ;)

What are some of your favorite scary stories? Any favorite horror or thriller books/authors?

My favorite scary novels include The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (in which a governess tries to protect her young charges from malevolent ghosts), The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (in which four strangers come together to study a notoriously haunted mansion) and The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James (in which a young woman joins a pair of paranormal investigators as they try to identify and contain a vicious spirit). All three of these books have haunted me over the years, and I love to re-read them!

What's the scariest / most memorable horror movie you ever saw?

I mentioned some of my favorite ghost films above, but I think one of the scariest I've seen recently was The Pact because it involved a very twisted serial killer. The most memorable was The Awakening because it's a historical ghost story set in a boarding school in the English countryside and features a female paranormal investigator. (YAY!) Neither film is perfect (and The Awakening needs to be viewed at least twice for all the plot elements to fall together), but the characters and ghostly situations are vivid and memorable. 

Fill in the blanks:

1) If I was magically transported back in time to the Dark Ages, I'd...join a convent. Sadly, that would be the only way I could keep reading and writing.

2) I'm a pro at...making the perfect cup of tea!

3) I'm addicted to...SUGAR!!!!! (Especially in my tea) 

4) I'm scared of...caves and catacombs. (I'm getting bad chills as I type those words.)

5) The last book I faked reading was...Ulysses by James Joyce

Last question: I'm super curious and I'm sure your fans are all wondering about it too: are you working on a new book now? If so, when can we expect it? Can you share some juicy details to keep our appetites going?

I certainly have more creepy stories in the works, and one of them just might feature the continuing adventures of Kate, Asher, and Elsie. Too soon to say more!

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | My Review
The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler

Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 27th 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

A supernatural romance about the powers that lie in the shadows of the mind, perfect for fans of Sarah Rees Brennan, Alyxandra Harvey, and Libba Bray.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Spiritualism and séances are all the rage—even in the scholarly town of Cambridge, England. While mediums dupe the grief-stricken, a group of local fringe scientists seeks to bridge the gap to the spirit world by investigating the dark corners of the human mind.

Each running from a shadowed past, Kate, Asher, and Elsie take refuge within the walls of Summerfield College. But their peace is soon shattered by the discovery of a dead body nearby. Is this the work of a flesh-and-blood villain, or is something otherworldly at play? This unlikely trio must illuminate what the scientists have not, and open a window to secrets taken to the grave—or risk joining the spirit world themselves.

1 copy of The Dark Between (thank you, Random House!)
RUNS TILL: October 31st
OPEN TO: 13+, US Street Addresses Only
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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