Interview with Katherine Harbour

ThornJackCover

It’s my sincere pleasure to have the opportunity to interview Katherine Harbour, author of the novel Thorn Jack. A modern retelling of the Scottish ballad, “Tam-Lin.” It’s always nice to meet a fellow faerie fan, especially one who does such a fine job with it. I don’t normally go for the YA subgenre, but if more books were like this, I’d become a quick convert. It’s a dark and haunting story filled with characters that have depth and genuine voices that make them both believable and relatable. Katherine also has a gift with imagery and I found her prose truly exceptional. Simply put, it’s everything a good book should be; a great story with interesting characters that you genuinely care about.
Katherine was kind enough to take time from her busy schedule promoting the book to join me at the bar for a pint the craic.

Hi, Katherine. First, congratulations on the publication! Welcome to A Quiet Pint, and thanks for taking time from what is no doubt a busy schedule to share a glass and answer some questions.
Thank you!

First question, and possibly the most important: what are you drinking?
Starbucks espresso. I like to be wired when I write.

What about the legend of Tam Lin did you find most appealing? What about the story made you want to do a modern retelling?
I like that the girl rescues the boy, that the faery queen, the antagonist who is going to sacrifice Tam Lin, might actually love him. I wanted to write a modern version because I had the idea of making it more of a ghost story and adding another dimension, such as the heroine’s sister.

As writers, we’re supposed to be like parents and not have a favorite child (character), but we all do. Who is your favorite character and why?
My favorite character is Finn. She was fun to write as she began to awaken from her grief and became intrigued by Jack and his very dangerous family—she’s part Alice in Wonderland, part Nancy Drew. As she developed into a young woman whose curiosity led her into situations where she had to use her wits to survive, I became so proud.

What character was the easiest for you to relate to, and which was the most difficult?
Finn was the easiest character to relate to. Jack was one of the most difficult, as he’s someone scarred by his past as a killer and struggling out of a nightmare and into a life he doesn’t think he deserves. Caliban, his savage nemesis, was also a bit hard to connect with.

How much research did you do for this book?
I tried to read or re-read every book on Celtic folklore or faeries I could find. I also bastardized much of the Gaelic and Celtic languages, since most of the Fatas in Fairy Hollow are Irish.

You clearly have a love of faeries, what about them most appeals to you?
My first encounter with a faery was Maleficent in Disney’s animated Sleeping Beauty. In the ‘80s, Charles de Lint and Terri Windling wrote faeries and elves into the modern world and it became a popular subgenre. Then I began reading Celtic mythology and found the faery folk to be a little terrifying, especially their associations with the dead, their capricious personalities, and the variety of shapes they took, from beautiful, to puzzling, to grotesque.

Do you believe in faeries?
Hmm. You’re not supposed to talk about them because they might be listening.

Did you know from the start where the story was going to go, or did you get surprised along the way? If so, when and by whom?
I basically knew where the story was headed, but I was surprised by some twists and turns. I was surprised by the introduction of the Black Scissors, (I woke up one morning with the poem describing him in my head), and by his being Reiko’s former true love. Reiko Fata, the ruthless Fata queen, also surprised me by revealing that she’d grown a heart.

Will we see these characters again in a future novel?
There are two novels—Briar Queen and Nettle King—set to follow Thorn Jack. Briar Queen, #2, is still being revised. I’m just finishing the first draft of Nettle King, #3. Finn’s, Jack’s, Christie’s, and Sylvie’s encounters with the Fatas haven’t ended yet.

In the film version of the book, who do you see as playing the main characters?
I don’t know. I’ve got such a vivid picture in my head of the main characters. I’ve placed some ideas by others on my Thorn Jack Pinterest page, such as Emma Watson for Phouka and Chloe Grace Moretz for Finn.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
All of the fantasy and sci fi authors chosen by Harper Voyager through the open submissions call have intriguing books being released in the next few months. I strongly suggest checking them out!

Thanks again, I wish you great success with Thorn Jack and your writing career, and hopefully you’ll get a chance to stop by again sometime.
Thank you!

You can find Thorn Jack online at the usual providers: Barnes & Noble, direct from Harper Collins, Amazon, iTunes, Google, Indiebound, and Audible. You can find Katherine at her website, here.

An Excerpt from The Stolen

Since I’ve tantalized you with the cover art and jacket copy, here is a sample from the book itself to really tempt you. This is chapter 2, and it’s also the piece that will be available in the free ebook sampler Harper Voyager will release on July 22nd, entitled Voyager. You can find it here, and I highly recommend it as an introduction to several skilled writers.

Enjoy…

 

Caitlin Brady walked out of the Manchester, New Hampshire hospital, her nurse’s scrubs in the bag slung over her shoulder and her daughter Fiona’s small hand in hers. The four-year-old girl was skipping and humming a happy tune. She was always like this after a visit with Eddy. Caitlin completely understood. He’d always made her feel better, too. In fact, without him, she wasn’t sure how she would’ve made it these last few years.

Kris’s car pulled up in front of them, and the willowy young woman got out with a smile.

Fiona struggled with the back door for a moment before Caitlin opened it for her and the little girl climbed up on the seat.

“Thanks again,” Caitlin said to Kris. “I know it’s short notice.”

“No problem,” Kris said, smiling. “You go out and have a good time. You could use it. We’re going to have a night with everyone’s favorite pixie.”

Fiona cheered as she settled into the child seat.

Caitlin leaned in and buckled up Fiona. As she did, it struck her again just how much her daughter took after her. They both had the same curly, fiery red hair, unmanageable, to be honest. The same green eyes, though Fiona didn’t have the matching set of luggage under hers. They were both light skinned and liberally dosed with freckles, though Fiona, like all children, pulled off the look better. Caitlin silently hoped that Fiona wouldn’t also inherent the extra twenty pounds Caitlin carried around, or that she’d at least be tall enough for it not to be as obvious; Caitlin was several inches shorter than every other woman she knew. If she just worked less and slept more, she knew it would make a world of difference, but she had more important things in her life than sleep.

Caitlin ran her hand down Fiona’s cheek and let out a breath. “You behave for Kris, okay, peanut?”

“I will, Mommy.” Fiona’s green eyes lit up. “I love you.”

Caitlin felt a twinge at the words and smiled; even that matched her daughter’s. “I love you, too. Now give me a kiss.” She leaned down, got her kiss, and gave one back before closing the car door with a sigh.

She waved and tried to ignore the pang of guilt as the car pulled away. Eddy was probably right. No, he was always right, and it was annoying as hell.

After a minute or two, she convinced herself it was okay to go to the art show. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath of the crisp autumn air. When she exhaled, she found the guilt assuaged enough that she could probably do an hour or two with the girls. Baby steps, right?

Emerging from the parking garage stairwell, she pulled her keys from her purse and pointed the fob at her car. A sudden, overwhelming chill of dread and hopelessness washed over her. It stopped her so abruptly that she nearly fell on her face.

Caitlin could sense someone behind her, watching her. She could almost feel cold breath on her neck.

She stood there, frozen in place. The only sound was her shallow breathing. She struggled to move her legs, but fear had them cemented in place.

“Come on, Caitlin,” she whispered. “Just remember the self-defense class.” For the first time she could remember, she was glad Fiona wasn’t with her.

Hands still shaking, she gripped her keys so that they protruded from between her knuckles. Then she sucked in a breath and turned to confront whoever it was, spiked fist at the ready.

An empty lot stared back at her.

Continued here