Monday, November 19, 2012

Corsets, Cutlasses, & Candlesticks: Cat Winters Guest Blog

Today debut author, Cat Winters, is here to give MPB readers...


People sometimes view the historical fiction genre as a literary party pooper. There's an implication that a person might have to LEARN something from a historical novel, or that characters might do boring things like sit and drink tea while talking about military strategies in pompous voices. 
If you're a historical fiction fan, you already know that novels set in bygone eras can be just as gripping, magical, and hip as contemporary and futuristic fiction. If you experience historical fiction phobia, however, here are five reasons why literary trips to the past don't have to equate to dullness.

Reason #1: Escape!!!

We read to slip away from our lives, right? Even if you're reading a realistic, modern tale, you're leaving your own surroundings to see how other people react to familiar conflicts. I've always considered historical fiction to be a close relative of science fiction and fantasy. A skilled historical author will submerge the reader in unfamiliar surroundings and build an enthralling world that entertains all five of the senses. 

Reason #2: The Costumes

Characters dressed in modern jeans and drab dystopian garb can still stand out for their vivid personalities, but let's face it, historical characters get the best clothing. Plus, the addition of complicated undergarments, or suits of armor, adds one more obstacle for a character to overcome. Imagine Katniss playing the Hunger Games in a corset and petticoats! 

Reason #3: The Past Is Safe Because It’s the Past

History is always repeating itself, and the past is brimming with scenarios that mirror our modern world. It’s not a stretch for authors to use historical tales to show teens how to cope with difficult contemporary topics, such as terrorism, the financial crisis, and school violence. And it’s easier to digest a horrifying subject matter when it’s being filtered through the past, because we know the past is long gone and unable to hurt us. 

Reason #4: History Is a Treasure Chest of Hidden Tales

Not once in my high school history class did I learn that séances were a wildly popular Victorian and early-twentieth-century fad that was respected by scholars, scientists, and the upper class. As an adult, however, I stumbled upon this bizarre and fascinating footnote in history and, because of what I learned, I eventually wrote my upcoming YA release, IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS. There are so many untapped tales from the past—tales that are often strange, unbelievable, and inspiring—so history serves as a bottomless well of story ideas. 

Reason #5: Relatability

The kids in historical YAs go though the same physical and emotional changes endured by modern youth, and they’re just as confused and rebellious and romantic. When today’s teens read historical novels, they can see that all the challenges involved with growing up—even the challenges that make them feel the most abnormal and frustrated—have been experienced over and over throughout time. It’s reassuring to know that no matter where or when you live, coming of age isn’t easy.

Cat Winters is the author of IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS, a World War I-era ghost tale coming April 2nd, 2013, from Amulet Books/ABRAMS. She recently launched with eight other authors of YA and middle-grade historical fiction. Visit her other online haunts at,, and

Win In the Shadow of Blackbirds and SWAG!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


nurmawati djuhawan said...

haven;t read this book but i'm eager to read it..
i love ghost stories..
thx :)

chikojubilee at gmail dot com

Danielle D said...

Yes I have heard of this book before this, and YES I'm eagerly wanting to get a copy to read. :)

Anonymous said...

I follow the historical fiction blog Corsets, Cutlasses, & Candlesticks and have been looking forward to this book ever since Cat Winters gave some background about "ghosts" and photography. Really interesting! Looking forward to reading it.

Christina Fiorelli said...

Christina K. in the rafflecopter

I have heard of this book and it is on my wishlist! I love the concept and the seances background:)I'm a fan of Cat Winters'

Thank you:)

Faith E. Hough said...

I've had this on my to-read shelf since I first heard of it! I love historical fiction and this book sounds particularly wonderful.

Tammy Sparks said...

Yes, I've heard of IN THE SHADOW OF THE BLACKBIRDS!! I can't wait to read it, thanks so much for the fantastic giveaway! And I loved Cat's guest post:)

Unknown said...

I found this book while going through Goodreads lists a few weeks ago and have been looking forwards to reading it since. It sounds fantastic.

Stephanie27 said...

I hadn't yet but yes I am excited. Historical fiction does in fact rock!

jamie w said...

i have not read this book. i am thrilled to read it. it sounds pretty good.

Unknown said...

I stumbled upon this book a few weeks ago and it immediately went on my TBR list. Very excited for this one, it sounds great!

Christine said...

I just heard of this book recently and it immediately grabbed my attention--can't wait to read it!!
Thanks for the giveaway :)

Shauna said...

This book has been on my to-read list for a while. I LOVE ghost stories and the photography aspect of this story is going to make it even more incredible! I can't wait! :)

alicia marie said...

This is the first I've heard of it, but it sounds awesome! It's definitely going on my TBR list and I can't wait to read it : )

Anonymous said...

I am absolutely thrilled to read this book!

Anonymous said...

I hadn't heard of this before, but I absolutely ADORE historical fiction.

Lynne said...

I had not heard of this book before, but it sounds really really interesting.
It's intriguing to read about something that was so common in the past but is so feared and considered taboo in the present.

For sure, if I don't win it here, I'll definitely be on the lookout for this book on the shelves!
Thanks so much for the opportunity :)


Karen said...

I just recently heard of this book, and I really want to read it! The story line looks so awesome, and I've been doing the annoying "tweet everyday" just so I can win, haha.

Cat Winters said...

Thanks so much to everyone who's entered the giveaway so far. I'm thrilled to see the enthusiasm for IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS and hope you'll join Gabrielle and me in February when we present the trailer reveal tour!

Corset Lover said...

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