I’m beyond ecstatic to be part of the official blog tour for Lena Coakley’s brand new YA novel – Worlds of Ink and Shadow. I read this one a little while ago via NetGalley and it was an immediate favourite. I couldn’t recommend it more! I got the chance to ask Lena a few questions about the book!
Q: Explain to us your research process for a project as big as Worlds of Ink & Shadow.
I’d never had to research a book before, so I really had to make it up as I went along. I made so many mistakes! The biggest one was not taking proper notes. I ended up reading many of my source books twice because I couldn’t remember where I’d found that one perfect detail.
In addition to reading Brontë biographies and juvenilia, I also took a course on the novels of the Brontë sisters at Oxford, traveled to the Brontë parsonage, and took many long walks on the Yorkshire moors.
Q: How important is it to you to incorporate enough fact (especially when dealing with figures from history) while still having enough room to play?
This was tough to balance. On the one hand, I knew that many of my readers would be very knowledgeable about the Brontës and have strong ideas about who they were. On the other hand, I really had to make these characters my own. No amount of research was going to tell me, in a deep enough way, what the Brontës were really like to the people who loved them. That’s the part I had to make up.
I decided to try to get the historical details as perfect as I could—what the town looked like, what they wore, what they would have had on the breakfast table—but that when it came to the siblings’ personalities, I would give myself a lot of license.
Q: Which Bronte sibling did you feel the most connection to? Did this influence the way they told their own stories within Verdopolis?
I love them all, but I really came to feel for Branwell Brontë. Branwell died at 31 from tuberculosis brought on by alcoholism and laudanum addiction. He never became famous, but, after reading many of his childhood writings, I think at one time he had as much potential as his sisters. Though I’ve never had to deal with addiction personally, I’m very sympathetic to the fact that laudanum, a highly addictive opiate, was available over the counter at the time and thought to be a good treatment for chronic headaches, something Branwell suffered from. Also, as someone who published her first novel at 40, I think it’s tragic he never had the chance I did to become a late bloomer.
Of course, in the context of my story, he’s very much Charlotte’s bratty, braggy brother, but I hope readers will also see the pressure he was under to make a living for himself, and his deep fear of failure.
Q: If you had the power of the Bronte’s (without the drawbacks, of course!) what imaginary world would you create? Would it be one to play out your own adventures (like Branwell) or one for you to influence like a lifelike dollhouse (like Charlotte)?
Honestly, I think I do have this power. Almost, anyway. Since I was a child I’ve been a chronic daydreamer. I would spend hours dreaming myself into the plots of the novels I was reading and making up stories with myself as the hero. I think this is how I became a novelist!
Q: You’ve written two well-received young adult standalone novels! Do you prefer the standalone format or are you looking to delve into a series sometime soon?
If you’d asked me this a year ago I would have said it was standalones only for me. They’re what I prefer to read, and, in the past, I’ve always been ready to start in on a brand-new project and a brand-new world after finishing a book. However, recently I’ve had some ideas…
Q: And finally, now that Worlds of Ink & Shadow is out in the wild for everyone to enjoy, what can we expect from Lena Coakley next?
I find launching a book very stressful. When Witchlanders came out, I hadn’t started writing a new book, so all I could do was watch my Goodreads score go up and down and fret. After that experience, I decided that the best thing I could do after completing a novel would be to start right away on my next book. That way, when the reviews for the finished novel started to come out, I would already be deeply invested in the next project.
I think I might have overdone it this time, because right now I’m deep in a middle grade project, a YA project, and a number of short stories!
About the Book
Worlds of Ink & Shadow
by Lena Coakley
Published January, 2016 by Atheneum
Purchase at The Book Depository
Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne.
The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. After all, nothing can bond four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price?
As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.
Lena is hosting an amazing giveaway for everyone participating in the blog tour! Giveaway is open internationally, so there’s no reason not to enter! There are also tonnes of prizes and chances to win. Contest ends January 29, 2016.
1 Grand Prize Winner:
• A Copy of ‘WORLDS OF INK AND SHADOW’
• A Hardcover Everyman’s Library edition of JANE EYRE by Charlotte Brontë
• A Hardcover Everyman’s Library edition of WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Brontë
• A softcover Penguin edition of THE TENANT OF WILDFELL HALL by Anne Brontë
• A softcover Hesperus edition of THE SPELL, juvenilia of Charlotte Brontë
• Toasty Almond Tea from Tealish
• A cloth ornament of Charlotte Brontë’s childhood hero, The Duke of Wellington, inspiration for her character, Zamorna
10 winners will receive: A Copy of ‘WORLDS OF INK AND SHADOW’
5 winners will receive: A black Brontë bonnet!