Interview with Saundra Mitchell + *CLOSED* Giveaway!

Saundra Mitchell is a screen writer and author from Indianapolis, Indiana. Her debut novel, Shadowed Summer was published in 2009 by Delcorte Press. Her second novel, The Vespertine, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and is scheduled for release on March 7, 2011. They will also publish a companion novel, The Springsweet, in 2012. Head over to her website for more information:

Let’s start at the beginning. What inspired you to start writing and when did that happen?
I’ve always written. I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t. I made up stories for my stuffed animals and my dogs before I knew how to actually put words on paper. Writing is part of me, like grey eyes or the white streak in my hair (although the writing never makes people think I had a close encounter with an angry bird).

What inspired you to write The Vespertine?
I knew that the original seed of an idea, “a girl who can see the future in the fires of the sunset,” showed up first. And quite some time ago, actually. I’m not sure what sparked that, but it was watching the new BBC adaptations of Wuthering Heights that kicked off the final version of The Vespertine. Burn Gorman was wonderfully unhinged in the role of Hindley, and I thought, “that’s a dude who would lock his sister in the attic and leave her to die.” Which is how The Vespertine starts, actually…

The Vespertine is set in Victorian-era Baltimore. What was your favorite thing about writing in that period or place?
I love Baltimore. I love it so much! It’s a city of many splendors. Tons of history, amazing landmarks, fascinating character. One of my favorite memories of Baltimore–some friends and I were leaving Kooper’s in Fell’s Point, well after midnight. We ran into a bunch of guys form the French Navy. In uniform and everything!

What do you hope your readers will gain from reading The Vespertine?
I love reading about characters who explode in fascinating ways, in bigger-than-life situations. This is a gothic novel, which is all about big emotions and big explosions. I hope readers get to vicariously enjoy the melodrama and desperation and wholeness of it, safe in their own completely realistic lives.

Amelia’s abilities are linked to the element of fire. What element do you think you’d be associated with? 
I’m probably like fire, but not in a neat, seeing-the-future kind of way. I rage and I burn, but it’s pretty easy to put me out, too. I wish I could be more like water or earth, but that’s another book entirely.

Is there anything you need to have when writing (i.c. snacks, music, silence, etc.)?
I like to be alone. Sometimes I like quiet, sometimes I like music. I do want a glass of water or a Cocola within reach, but mainly I just need to be left alone so I can think and pick at the words.

Is there any news you can give us about The Springsweet, the companion novel to The Vespertine?
Up there where I said water and earth are another book entirely? That book is The Springsweet. I’m currently working on revisions with my editor, and I think it will be coming out March 2012. Sometime in 2012 for sure!

What are you working on right now, if anything? 
I just finished a story for Trisha Telep’s Mammoth Book of Ghost Romance, which comes out later this year. I also put down another anthology story, but that collection hasn’t been announced yet, so it’s a secret. Revisions on The Springsweet are keeping me busy, but I’m working on a new standalone to follow it. It’s barely formed yet, though, so I’ll just say it’s set in contemporary Maine and leave it at that.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 
The only writing advice that’s absolutely universal and applies to all writers is this: to write a book, you have to actually sit down and write it. All other advice should be discarded if it makes you feel bad. Other people’s processes aren’t your process!

What will you do to celebrate the release of The Vespertine?
I’m going to drive around to local bookstores and sign their copies of The Vespertine, probably. March 7th is a school day, so I can’t party too much!

Pick up The Vespertine on March 7th! 
It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset–visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own–still Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him. When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

Saundra was kind enough to offer three sandalwood fans and The Vespertine bookmarks for a giveaway! To enter, please fill out THIS FORM. The winners will be chosen using I’ll announce the winner on March 7th.

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1 Comment

  1. Great interview!


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