Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Shadow Society Blog Tour & Giveaway

Hey, everyone. Today I'm hosting Marie Rutkoksi, author of the fantastic The Shadow Society, and she graciously agreed to answer some of my questions.

1. Describe The Shadow Society in one sentence.

The Shadow Society
 is about a girl who discovers she's not human and that she comes from an alternate world where deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population. 

2. Why Chicago?

The short answer is that I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, in a town called Bolingbrook (the name of the town where Darcy lives, Lakebrook, is both a nod to my hometown and a wry allusion to the many, many suburbs named after some kind of natural feature-- often two at once: Oak Brook, Lake Forest, Woodfield, Brookfield...though I should note that Bolingbrook is named after a king-- the English Henry IV of Bolingbrook-- and so doesn't quite fit that pattern).

The long answer is that I love Chicago, and the way that it feels much more like a metropolis than any other city I've lived in, even New York, which is small and crammed. Chicago is wide and wild-- and so is its lake. And I'm fascinated by the fact that it could have been so different. If it weren't for the Chicago Fire, which almost totally destroyed the city, it might have ended up looking like Boston (where I lived for seven years), with winding, almost European streets. A city that grew instead of being planned. I'm drawn to might-have-beens, and imagining alternatives. I write about this a lot-- maybe because the act of writing is the act of continually making some choices and discarding others.

Hmm. My short answer and my long one were almost the same length. 

3. What inspired the creation of the Shade world and its history?

I knew I wanted to write about an alternative world, a different version of Chicago that is, in a way, a ghost of our own. I knew I wanted to create a new paranormal creature. So it seemed fitting to make Shades seem ghostly. As for its history, I think that anyone who reads the news these days (or a history book) is very aware of how one group of people can demonize-- even attempt to destroy-- another. I wanted to portray cycles of violence between different kinds of people. Shades are powerful, but they have also been victims. You could say the same about humans, as I have represented them.  

Sorry if that's vague. I'm trying not to give too much away.

4. Can you tell us some more about the literary and artistic allusions in The Shadow Society?

Sure! The Shadow Society is the first-- and will probably be the only-- book connected to my high school experience-- though I didn't date any hot guys from another dimension!  :(

A defining moment for me in high school was reading "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." I had known that I loved literature, but this was the first text that made me want to understand how literature worked, to understand what it meant and how it meant it. This is a key desire for anyone who wants to be a writer. It's a haunting poem, and very shadowy-- perfect for my main character, Darcy, who, like J. Alfred, is aware of the importance of choice.

In The Shadow Society, the letter "Desiderata" operates as a kind of antithesis to the poem. I grew up with a copy of it in my house, and there was a time when I took its words to heart. Then I thought it was cheesy. And now, again, I think it's a very beautiful piece. You could do worse than to live your life by it. And you'd be much happier than J. Alfred Prufrock.

As for all the artistic allusions, they come from years of loving art and museums-- and again, being fascinated by how people make choices. Why is Van Gogh's blanket red in the painting of his bedroom? Why not yellow? Don't say it's because his actual blanket was red-- he could have painted it however he liked. Or he could have chosen a different colored blanket for his bed. 

5. How do you handle the constraints of being a professor and an author?

I find being both less constraining and more freeing. I like being part of both worlds-- academia and writing (someone has pointed out that it's maybe not coincidental that I've written a book about a girl who inhabits two worlds). One area influences the other. I teach fiction writing and children's literature in addition to Shakespeare, so I have a chance to think carefully about what I do and how I do it when I write-- instead of just writing blind (which I also do). Luckily, I'm able to have a schedule where I spend two days on campus teaching. The other three, I write (and prepare for classes) at home. I write during weekends and holidays. I try very hard not to waste time. I have two small children, so there's not much time to waste anyway.

And, of course, I'm fortunate that my department at Brooklyn College supports my creative writing. Some departments might frown upon it and ask why I don't focus solely on academic writing.

Thank you, Marie!  And now, I have one hardcover of The Shadow Society to give away, courtesy of the publisher!  US/CA entries only, please.

Be sure to visit the other participating blogs!

The Shadow Society Blog Tour

Wednesday 10/17

If you'd like more information on The Shadow Society, check Goodreads, Amazon, or Publisher's Weekly.

Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.

Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.

As if she were his enemy.

When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . .

In this smart, compulsively readable novel, master storyteller Marie Rutkoski has crafted an utterly original world, characters you won’t soon forget, and a tale full of intrigue and suspense. 

More about Marie/The Shadow Society:

Marie Rutkoski is the author of the YA novel The Shadow Society, about a girl who discovers that she's not human and that her kind are terrorists in an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire never happened. The Shadow Society will be published October 16, 2012. Marie has also written the children's fantasy series The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of WondersThe Celestial Globeand The Jewel of the KalderashThe Cabinet of Wonders, her debut novel, was named an Indie Next Kids' List Great Read and a Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year, among other honors. 

Rutkoski grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She attended the University of Iowa. After graduating, she lived in Moscow and Prague. Upon receiving her Ph.D. from Harvard University, she held dual appointments as a lecturer there in both English and American Literature and Language, and History and Literature. Rutkoski is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children's literature and creative writing. She usually lives in New York City with her husband and two sons, but she and her family are now living in Paris for the 2012-2013 academic year. 


  1. I love the "other worlds" stories and this one sounds very intriguing. Thanks for the chance!

  2. The premise of this book really gets me excited because it looks so unique! I can't wait for it!

  3. I loved finding out all the artistic illusions she incorporated. Love them!

  4. I love that it takes place in an alternative world with a new and different paranormal creature. It sounds like it will definitely be a book that's different from what I've read before : )

  5. 102 Ruland Circle
    Hendersonville, TN 37075

    Thanks for the giveaway.

  6. Your mailing address entry didn;t have a textbox for me to enter it and I don't want to do it in the comments, so I can send you an e-mail of it if I win?

    Thanks for the giveaway!
    California, USA

  7. @ Leanne - yes, of course! I'm sorry. I thought I had checked that box.

  8. This book sounds fascinating :) Thanks for sharing!

  9. This book sounds so interesting! I love anything paranormal and weird alternate worlds are awesome. I can't wait to read this book! Thanks for the giveaway!!

  10. The literary allusions sound so interesting:)

    Thank you:)

  11. It's totally caught me on bored with the premise. I've been excited for a long time! Actually just got and ARC of this book and flipped out! Love the interview! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Oh my! A story about an alternate world/universe! Count me in.

    -Len of Musings of a Reader Happy

  13. Heya this is somewhat of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding expertise so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  14. I've been excited about this book ever since the cover reveal. I can't wait to read it! Thank you for the giveaway!


  15. I really like the unique idea behind this novel, but what really made me want to read it were all of the great reviews it had. They all pulled out elements (such as strong secondary characters) to show why the story is worth reading.

    Thank you for having the giveaway!

  16. The thing about The Shadow Society that excites me so much is the premise - I adore alternate universes, and the Shades sound so awesome! Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

  17. Really loved this interview. I especially loved reading about the literary and artistic allusions in The Shadow Society. I love when an author can talk about their piece or other works and really break it down to show how it works.
    Of course, I also loved reading about her inspiration and choice of setting.


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