Eeeeeppppp!!! I’m soooooooo excited to be a part of this blog tour! I loved In the Shadow of Blackbirds so much click on the title to read my review! And I’m super happy to have THIS guest post because it’s about one of my favorite characters in the book! Stephen, the ghost I loved him so much!!! And make sure to enter the giveaway for a copy of the book!
Ok enough of my rambling check out the book and meet Stephen!
In the Shadow of Blackbirds
Hardcover: 400 pages
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books
In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.
Introducing Stephen Embers…
“I viewed a stunning boy who looked to be an older version of the Stephen I remembered, with hair a rich brown and deep, dark eyes that watched me with interest.”
In other blog posts and interviews, I’ve chatted quite a bit about my IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS protagonist, Mary Shelley Black. I’ve also frequently discussed my inspiration for the novel, as well as the book’s chilling 1918 setting, which involves both World War I and the deadly Spanish influenza.
But I haven’t yet said too much about the book’s ghost: Stephen Embers.
One of the reasons I’ve been keeping quiet about him is my nervousness about revealing some of the book’s secrets if I discuss his ghostly scenes. The fact that he dies in the novel isn’t technically a spoiler itself (the catalog synopsis for the book reveals this information, so I’m not ruining a carefully hidden plot point by mentioning it here). In fact, even though this post is your official introduction to Stephen, I’m still going to refrain from discussing what he’s like when he returns in spirit form. You’ll have to read the book to experience that side of him.
“They’re shipping us overseas soon, even though I’ve barely been in training. We’re needed in Europe something desperate, I guess.”
The living version of Stephen, a budding young photographer, appears in the book via flashbacks and numerous letters written to his long-time friend and first love, Mary Shelley Black, whom he affectionately calls “Shell.” I didn’t want him to be just “the dead boy” in the book. Instead, I made him a major presence throughout the entire novel, from the first chapter to the last, and I explored his life from childhood to his final days.
“I’m going off to war, Shell…I need to get out of this house.”
Stephen’s biggest mistake is enlisting to fight in the war in Europe when he’s only seventeen years old. He’s grieving for his father, who recently died from heart failure, and he hates the fact that his older half-brother, Julius, claims to photograph the spirits of customers’ departed loved ones in the family’s home photography studio. Stephen and Mary Shelley have one last moment together before he leaves for the army, and it’s one of my favorite scenes from the book.
“You told me in your letter you wished you could have stopped me from leaving for the war when we were together in April. I was determined to go, and you know better than anyone else I can be as stubborn as you sometimes.”
Am I cruel for creating a handsome, artistic, loving boy and then killing him off early on in the novel? Perhaps so, but I wanted to show what can happen when innocence is trampled; when violence is allowed to obliterate gentleness. I needed readers to care about Stephen as much as Mary Shelley does so they’ll be invested in finding out why his spirit refuses to rest—and why he claims to be haunted by the titular blackbirds. (Ah, did you see what I just did there? I gave you a tiny hint about his ghost.)
I hope you enjoy learning more about Stephen Embers in the pages of IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS. If I did my job well enough, perhaps he’ll even haunt you after you’ve finished the final chapters.
Check out the trailer!
Cat Winters was born and raised in Southern California, near Disneyland, which may explain her love of haunted mansions, bygone eras, and fantasylands. She received degrees in drama and English from the University of California, Irvine, and formerly worked in publishing.
Her debut novel, In the Shadow of Blackbirds—a YA ghost tale set during the World War I era—is coming April 2, 2013, from Amulet Books/ABRAMS. She currently lives outside of Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two kids.
Where you can find her:Twitter/Website/Facebook
Enter to win a finished copy of In the Shadow of Blackbirds!
Check out the rest of the Tour Schedule:
25th- Recreate the cover contest @ The Mod Podge Bookshelf
26th- Interview @ Icey Books
27th- This or That @ Novels News & Notes
28th- Guest Blog @ Two Chicks on Books (HERE)
29th- Interview @Hobbitsies
30th- This or That @ Carina's Books
31st- Interview @ Book Whales
1st- Character Interview with Julius @ Read Write and Read Some More
2nd- Guest Blog @ Mundie Moms
3rd- This or That @ The Book Galaxy
4th- Guest Blog @ Teen Librarian
5th- Interview @ A.L. Davroe
6th- Character Interview with Mary Shelley @ IBTeens