Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Feral Guest Blog with Holly Schindler

Holly Schindler's take on feminist literature for teens and the feminist movement:

I think that, in many ways, the current feminist movement is centered on social acceptance. 

What I mean: Women have managed to acquire the same rights as men.  The right to own property, for example.  The right to vote.  (Both of my grandmothers were born before women obtained the right to vote, which always makes this point in history feel utterly, shockingly close to our modern-day America.)  While women still aren’t earning the same amount men are—cent for cent—for the same job, we do have the right to work outside the home.  A woman has the right to support herself, without having to marry in order to secure her adult life.  

Often, though, it feels as though we’re all still fighting to gain acceptance.  Not to be judged for staying single.  Not to be judged for deciding to remain childless—or, conversely, for stepping away from a career in order to raise children.  Not to be judged for going to work and leaving a child in the hands of daycare.  

No matter what a woman does, it often feels as though she’s damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t.

The search for acceptance is also often a central theme in YA literature (especially contemporary realistic YAs).  It’s so important for teens to find themselves—and then to find acceptance for who they are.  But this is true regardless of whether the book features a male or female protagonist.  

Maybe, though, that’s the most significant role that YA literature can take, as far as the feminist movement is concerned: presenting both male and female characters in a slew of different roles and scenarios.  

Making sure that males and females alike are seen as athletes and artists and scientists and gearheads and skaters and musicians; making sure that males and females alike are represented in both action-oriented stories and quiet internal dramas.  Maybe seeing males and females as equals—seeing them both in so many varied roles in literature—is one step toward fully accepting males and females as equals in varied roles in real life.

...Wouldn’t it be absolutely wonderful to someday have achieved a level of acceptance that meant that terms like “feminism” would no longer have to be used?

FERAL jacket copy:

The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know.

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened. 

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….

Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.


FERAL falls squarely into the realm of the classic psychological thriller.  

While the book features mystery, horror, and paranormal elements, the emphasis is on the “psychological” rather than thriller / action.  

The novel features a Hitchcockian pace and focus on character development (here, we’re exploring the inner workings of the main character, Claire Cain).  Essentially, every aspect of FERAL is used to explore Claire’s inner workings—that even includes the wintry Ozarks setting.  The water metaphor is employed frequently in psychological thrillers to represent the subconscious, and here is incorporated in the form of a brutal ice storm (that represents Claire’s “frozen” inner state).  

The attempt to untangle what is real from what is unreal (another frequently-used aspect of the psychological thriller) also begins to highlight the extent to which Claire was hurt in that Chicago alley.  Even the explanation of the odd occurrences in the town of Peculiar offers an exploration into and portrait of Claire’s psyche.  

Ultimately, FERAL is a book about recovering from violence—that’s not just a lengthy or hard process; it’s a terrifying process, too.  The classic psychological thriller allowed me to explore that frightening process in detail.  

Holly Schindler Bio:

Holly Schindler is the author of the critically acclaimed A BLUE SO DARK (Booklist starred review, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medal recipient) as well as PLAYING HURT (both YAs).  

Her debut MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, also released in ’14, and became a favorite of teachers and librarians, who used the book as a read-aloud.  Kirkus Reviews called THE JUNCTION “...a heartwarming and uplifting story...[that] shines...with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.”  

FERAL is Schindler’s third YA and first psychological thriller.  Publishers Weekly gave FERAL a starred review, stating, “Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler’s third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A BLUE SO DARK…This time, the focus is on women’s voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking…This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees.” 

Schindler encourages readers to get in touch.  Booksellers, teen librarians, and teachers can also contact her directly regarding Skype visits.  She can be reached at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com, and can also be found at hollyschindler.com, hollyschindler.blogspot.com, @holly_schindler, Facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor, and hollyschindler.tumblr.com.

FERAL Trailer:

1 comment:

Debby said...

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