I’m very excited to be on the blog tour for The Radiant Road by Katherine Catmull! I’m reading the book now and I love the lyrical storytelling style. I have an interview with the author in store for you! But first, more about the book:
A gorgeously written tale of magic, friendship, and self-discovery set in a dream-like landscape filled with fairies.
After years of living in America, Clare Macleod and her father are returning to Ireland, where they’ll inhabit the house Clare was born in—a house built into a green hillside with a tree for a wall. For Clare, the house is not only full of memories of her mother, but also of a mysterious boy with raven-dark hair and dreamlike nights filled with stars and magic. Clare soon discovers that the boy is as real as the fairy-making magic, and that they’re both in great danger from an ancient foe.
Fast-paced adventure and spellbinding prose combine to weave a tale of love and loyalty in this young adult fantasy.
“A stunningly atmospheric, gorgeously complicated dream of a book.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“An unforgettable tale . . . that contains all the darkness and light of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” —School Library Journal, starred review
1. Let’s start off with the elevator pitch for The Radiant Road. What do you tell people when they ask what it’s about?
I say it’s about a girl named Clare who goes back to Ireland to the house where she was born: a stone house hidden under a green hill, with a tree growing inside it. Inside the tree she finds a connection to a world she’d known as a child and forgotten all about; and she finds a boy; and she finds great danger, to both his world and our own. I say it’s about dreaming, love, and making—art, poetry, invention, music—and what you must do to keep them alive. It’s about how scary and glorious it is to give up the idea of safety.
2. There is a strong fantastical element in The Radiant Road. What stories or legends influenced your writing of the story?
Childhood stories of cold, inhuman fairies. Childhood readings of myths, like the one with the minotaur in the center of the labyrinth. More grown-up reading of ethnographic studies on Irish and Scottish folk beliefs. I first learned about the Irish fairy roads in a quite spooky story told by one character in Conor McPherson’s great play, The Weir.
3. The main character, Clare, and her father return to Ireland, the land of Clare’s birth. What kind of research did you have to do to set the story there?
I went to Ireland! I was afraid I might be being self-indulgent, spending on that trip, but it was invaluable. I used very specific places for every specific place Clare goes in Ireland—not just famous ones like the Cliffs of Moher, but also obscure sheep fields and cliffs over the Atlantic. A specific, cap-shaped dolmen I walked past in a field—this extraordinary relic of humans five or six thousand years ago, just sitting around, next to some sheep—also made it into the story.
4. There are many faery retellings out there. What do you think makes a good faery story?
That’s a good question. It’s easy for these stories to become sort of annoying or corny, I think. I sweated that quite a bit. The best ones are the most unexpected, I think—the ones that walk that tricky path of growing out of a recognizable tradition, and yet remaining original and surprising. I am a huge fan of Stefan Bachmann’s middle-grade books The Peculiar and The Whatnot, which are set in a sort of alternate steampunk-ish England with marvelously chilly, uncanny fairies. In a completely different way, I love how Ellen Booraem brings fairies into modern America in her books Small Persons with Wings and Texting from the Underworld.
5. What’s your favorite part of the writing process? (thinking on the ideas? drafts? editing? research? etc.)
The earliest part—playing with ideas—is pure joy. Research is also tremendously fun and sparks a million ideas—I spend WAY too much time on research. And I actually don’t mind revising at all, though it can get a bit sweaty and anxious at times. It’s the drafting part that’s hard for me. Sometimes I really freeze up. I need to take a tip from my own book—there is no safety! Fall and fly! Shake off your shell and grow!
6. Your book might appeal to fans of which books, movies, tv shows, plays, etc…?
Hm! I honestly don’t know. A review recently compared me to Laini Taylor—I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s certainly a huge compliment. I’ve also seen a some Goodreads reviews that compare my stuff to Neil Gaiman, also insanely flattering of course but heck yes, I’ll take it.
7. I listened to the excellent The Radiant Road audiobook excerpt. Was thereanything interesting/different about having your work adapted to another medium?
I felt for the poor reader—the wonderfully talented Colby Minifie, whom you can see in Marvel’s Jessica Jones on Netflix—who had to do like four or five different accents, American, Irish, Scottish, and a couple in between. But I was also sort of glad it was her problem, not mine—at least until I start doing readings. My only input into the recording process was working with the director on how to slightly change certain lines so that they worked in audio. Haven’t even heard more than that first snippet, but I can’t wait!
Thanks so much to Katherine Catmull for answering all my questions!
About the Author:
Katherine Catmull is an actor, freelance writer, voice-over artist, and sometimes playwright. Her first novel,Summer and Bird, was called “a stunning debut” that “thrills with complex storytelling” by Booklist. She lives in Austin, Texas.
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