So I think I’ve been gushing about Katherine Arden’s Winternight trilogy for long enough by now for you guys to know I love it, so when Aléz and Tess over at Ebury asked if we’d like to take a part in the blog tour for The Girl in the Tower, the second book in the trilogy, of course we jumped at the chance! Below is our Q&A with the lovely Katherine Arden.
TBT: We’ve seen that you have a degree in French and Russian Literature, and you lived in Moscow for a time. What was it that initially drew you to Russia? Did you know before you moved there that you would set your debut series there?
KA: I had no idea. Life is strange. I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer when I lived in Russia. I was thinking I’d be an interpreter or diplomat. But I was always fascinated by Russia’s language, culture and history, and when I did decide I wanted to write a book, setting it in Russia seemed a natural choice.
TBT: What inspired you to set the Winternight trilogy in medieval Russia, as opposed to periods of Russian history that may be more well known by modern day readers, such as Tsarist or Revolution-era Russia?
KA: The whole point of setting the books in medieval Russia is that I wanted to use a less-known time period to be able to approach the topic without the clichés and the stereotyping that often affect Western writing about Russia. Also, setting that book so far removed in history creates an atmosphere where you can—almost—believe that spirits were real. Finally, the conflict between the Orthodox church and paganism from that time period interested me.
TBT: I’ve always been interested in modern fiction based within Russian folklore, so when I noticed some of my favourite figures from Russian folklore starting to appear in The Girl in the Tower, I was so excited! Do you have any favourite Russian fairytales or favourite characters from Russian folklore?
KA: Sivka-Burka, Baba Yaga, the Firebird, and Morozko are my personal favorites
TBT: When Vasya travelled to Muscovy in The Girl in the Tower, you seemed to merge the fantasy elements of your book more with Russia’s history by including historical figures such as Dmitrii Ivanovich. Will we see more of Dmitrii and of Russia’s history in The Winter of the Witch?
KA: Yes, you most definitely will.
TBT: Although TBATN and TGITT seem to take inspiration from two different stories from Russian folklore, to me, Vasya has always seemed to have attributes similar to characters from various tales – did you take inspiration from any specific hero from Russian folklore when writing Vasya’s character?
KA: Not really. Obviously there are the characters of Vasilisa the Beautiful and Vasilisa the Wise (note the frog reference) but she is very much her own person.
TBT: So one of the main things I noticed about both the books in the series is the strong relationships Vasya has with her siblings. Speaking as an only child, sibling relationships are something of an enigma to me but a lot of books don’t focus on it as much as you did. Was this something you wanted to achieve or did it come naturally to the characters?
KA: It kind of appeared naturally as I was writing the different characters. Since the books are about a family, the sibling relationships naturally become very important.
TBT: I already can’t wait to read The Winter of the Witch even though I know I have a while until I’ll be able to yet! Is there anything you can tell us about the final instalment in the trilogy?
KA: Bigger, darker, not everyone lives.
Thanks so much to Katherine for answering our questions, and again to the guys over at Ebury for asking us to be a part of this blog tour! The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden is published by Ebury Press and available to buy now.
You can also find my full review of The Girl in the Tower here!
ABOUT THE BOOK
“For a young woman in medieval Russia, the choices are stark: marriage or a life in a convent. Vasya will choose a third way: magic…
The court of the Grand Prince of Moscow is plagued by power struggles and rumours of unrest. Meanwhile bandits roam the countryside, burning the villages and kidnapping its daughters. Setting out to defeat the raiders, the Prince and his trusted companion come across a young man riding a magnificent horse.
Only Sasha, a priest with a warrior’s training, recognises this ‘boy’ as his younger sister, thought to be dead or a witch by her village. But when Vasya proves herself in battle, riding with remarkable skill and inexplicable power, Sasha realises he must keep her secret as she may be the only way to save the city from threats both human and fantastical…”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in Texas, Katherine attended Middlebury College, where she studied French and Russian literature. She has lived abroad in France and in Moscow, and is fluent in both French and Russian. She has also lived in Hawaii, where she spent time guiding horse trips while writing The Bear and the Nightingale. She currently lives in Vermont.
lots of love,