Welcome to my stop on The Winter’s Child Blog Tour hosted by Legend Press! I put some questions to Cassandra about her new release and got some brilliant answers 😀 I hope you enjoy the interview and please support the blog tour in any way you can. Thanks for stopping by, a few details about Cassandra and The Winter’s Child, then on to the questions!
About Cassandra Parkin
Author of THE SUMMER WE ALL RAN AWAY (2013), THE BEACH HUT (2015), LILY’S HOUSE (2016) and THE WINTER’S CHILD (September 2017)
Cassandra Parkin grew up in Hull, and now lives in East Yorkshire. Her short story collection, New World Fairy Tales (Salt Publishing, 2011), won the 2011 Scott Prize for Short Stories. THE WINTER’S CHILD is her fourth novel.
Book Synopsis for The Winter’s Child
Five years ago, Susannah Harper’s son Joel went missing without trace. Bereft of her son and then of her husband, Susannah tries to accept that she may never know for certain what has happened to her lost loved ones. She has rebuilt her life around a simple selfless mission: to help others who, like her, must learn to live without hope
But then, on the last night of Hull Fair, a fortune-teller makes an eerie prediction. She tells her that this Christmas Eve, Joel will finally come back to her.
As her carefully-constructed life begins to unravel, Susannah is drawn into a world of psychics and charlatans, half-truths and hauntings, friendships and betrayals, forcing her to confront the buried truths of her family’s past, where nothing and no one are quite as they seem.
Q&A with Cassandra Parkin
Could you give us your own personal overview of The Winter’s Child and what we should expect within?
The Winter’s Child begins on the last night of Hull Fair in a Fortune Teller’s caravan. Susannah Harper is given an eerily specific prophecy – her lost son Joel, who has been missing for five years, will come back to her by Christmas Eve. From then on, she’s drawn into a world of psychics and hauntings, as she desperately follows the thread that will lead her back to Joel. It’s a Gothic story about love and loss, grief and buried secrets, set in my home city of Hull.
The Winter’s Child sounds like a thoughtful and mystical story. What was the original inspiration for the book?
For me, the very best thing about growing up in Hull was Hull Fair. It’s the biggest travelling fair in Europe, and it’s been held in the same place every year for over seven centuries. In Hull, we call the first chill of Autumn “Hull Fair weather”, and going to Hull Fair is the first sign that the year’s turning towards winter. As you walk down Walton Street (the home of the Hull Fair smell – fried onions and diesel and chips and candy-floss…there’s nothing like it and we all love it), you pass the Fortune Teller’s caravans. I’ve always thought the inside of one of those caravans would be the most perfect place to start a novel.
How long has it taken you to get The Winter’s Child out for us to enjoy?
The first draft took about five months, which was fast for me – but I found I was completely caught up in the story and couldn’t stop until it was finished. After that, there was a lot of editing to turn my giant shambling mess of a manuscript into something that was fit to share with others! I really like Hemingway’s advice to Write Drunk, Edit Sober.
What is it you particularly feel drawn to about the subject of grief?
I think it’s because it’s such an inevitable part of our experience as humans. We dread it, we do what we can to avoid it – but there’s no escaping it. Grief is waiting for all of us, and reading and writing about it is one way to explore it before the day when it comes for real.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when writing The Winter’s Child?
I think it was my fear that, by writing about the experience that frightens me the most – the idea of one of my children being lost – I was somehow inviting it in. Every night that I was writing it, I had to go and check on my children as they slept.
Who would you say inspires your writing?
For The Winter’s Child, I’d say it has to be Daphne du Maurier. I’ve loved “Rebecca” since the first time I picked it up, aged fourteen. The first time I read it, I had no idea what it was about or what to expect, and it was one of the most beautiful reading experiences of my life. I also love her short story collection “The Doll”, which has a lot of work she wrote as a very young woman. They’re eerie and cynical and sexy and brilliant.
How much research did you have to do to comfortably put this book together?
Now, what I want to say is “loads”! But as a contemporary fiction writer, I always feel a bit daft saying “zOMG the RESEARCH, daahling” when there are writers like Sarah Dunant and Hilary Mantel and Madeleine Miller, putting in hours of hard slog with ancient manuscripts and even ancient languages, all so they can re-create moments from hundreds or thousands of years ago.
Saying that, it still felt like a lot to me. Because the police investigation to find Joel weaves in and out of the story, I had to get my head around the procedural elements. I also had to do a lot of reading (and a few visits) to create the feel of the visits Susannah makes to psychics.
When you’re not writing or reading, what do you do to let off steam?
I think most writers find the most important part of “letting off steam” is getting out of our heads and back into our bodies! I love walking – in fact I’d say walking is a really important part of my creative practice, as complicated plot problems often solve themselves on a long walk.
I also love horse-riding and yoga. Not that I’m any good at them, but they both mean I have to be 100% present in the moment and concentrating on what I’m doing.
Have you got any other projects coming up that we should know about?
I’m editing my first draft of a new novel, set on the East Coast of Yorkshire in a village that’s gradually crumbling into the sea. It’s about family break-ups and reunions, and coping with the moments when we realise our parents are only human.
Thank you for stopping by to read up on The Winter’s Child by Cassandra Parkin. I love getting the chance to interview authors, it is a fantastic opportunity to get insights into their upcoming work. The Winter’s Child looks excellent and I am eager to get involved very soon. If you have already read it then let me know what you thought about it in the comments! Check out the other blogs on the tour and until next time, happy reading!