Author Chat with Gillian French (The Missing Season), Plus Giveaway!
Today we're excited to chat with Gillian French author of
The Missing Season.
Read on for more about Gillian, plus an interview and an giveaway!
Meet Gillian French!
Gillian French is the author of The Lies They Tell, The Missing Season, The Door to January (Islandport Press) and Edgar Award finalist Grit, which was an Indie Next List pick and received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and ALA Booklist. www.gillianfrench.com.
Meet The Missing Season!
From the author of Edgar Award finalist Grit and The Lies They Tell comes a tense, atmospheric novel for fans of E. Lockhart and Marieke Nijkamp, about friendship, truth, and the creeping fears that can’t be outrun.
Whenever another kid goes missing in October, the kids in the old factory town of Pender know what is really behind it: a monster out in the marshes that they call the Mumbler.
That’s what Clara’s new crew tells her when she moves to town. Bree and Sage, who take her under their wing. Spirited Trace, who has taken the lead on this year’s Halloween prank war. And magnetic Kincaid, whose devil-may-care attitude and air of mystery are impossible for Clara to resist.
Clara doesn’t actually believe in the Mumbler—not like Kinkaid does. But as Halloween gets closer and tensions build in the town, it’s hard to shake the feeling that there really is something dark and dangerous in Pender. Lurking in the shadows. Waiting to bring the stories to life.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
THE MISSING SEASON originally sparked from my fascination with urban legends and the importance of storytelling in the coming-of-age experience; the stories we share, the rite of passage of spooking each other with tales of bogeymen passed down from generation to generation. I’m particularly interested in regional urban legends, such as Resurrection Mary, which seem to spring from nothing in one specific area for reasons unknown. Setting plays a large part in all my books, so in THE MISSING SEASON, I created a bogeyman for the central Maine region—the Mumbler, a “bad kid”-eating monster who lives in the local salt marsh—using him as a backdrop for a story about low-income, disenfranchised teens whose friendships and romances have all reached a breaking point, while also paying wry homage to certain horror/slasher movie tropes.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
Definitely Trace, the big, loud, often obnoxious, but ultimately good-hearted prankster of the group. While he’s physically intimidating and always takes everything too far, he’s also there for protagonist Clara when she really needs him; I think of him as an unlikely protector. His dialogue was a blast to write, and he’s the character I’ve found myself missing the most now that I’ve moved on to writing my next novel.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
Novel! The original title of this book was simply THE MUMBLER, but my publisher was concerned that it sounded too much like straight-up horror and might scare off readers from the true themes of the book, which is really all about friendship and what we’re willing to sacrifice for love. After a LOT of brainstorming, we came up THE OCTOBER MISSING—but since the book was coming out in May, that still needed some tweaking—so in the end, THE MISSING SEASON was what we agreed. It can be quite a journey to find the right title sometimes!
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I love the dark, eerie scene at the end of Chapter 3, when the kids at the skate park first take Clara to see the disturbing graffiti covering the cliffside at the salt marsh; when I think of this book, the elements of that scene—fading sunset, the ring of teens chanting the Mumbler children’s rhyme— always leaps to mind. I hope it sets the tone for the book and really invites the reader to sprint through the story.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
The process of writing this book taught me that telling a story is whatever you make it—an agonizing process full of self-doubt, or a pilgrimage of self-discovery. Publication changes the way an author sees themselves and their writing; it can be very challenging to shut out all the online reviews, the critics, the various social media demands, and remember why you do this in the first place. That it’s about a love of crafting and sharing stories which hopefully shed a little light on basic human truths. My youngest son was just a baby when I began THE MISSING SEASON, and exhaustion was my biggest foe while writing the book; that itself was a learning experience, discovering my limitations. Now that the story is hitting shelves, I’m hoping that my general sleep deprivation added to the surreal, skin-creeping anxiety of the book.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2019?
Big shout-out to Brenda Rufener and Katy Upperman, who both have very exciting projects coming out this year. Brenda’s, SINCE WE LAST SPOKE, is a tale of love and loss surrounding a fatal car accident; Katy’s, HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN, spotlights the nature of sisterhood and rediscovering joy after tragedy. They’re also both warm, friendly authors who have been incredibly supportive of me and my writing ever me since my first book, GRIT, came out in 2017.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
I’m about three-quarters of the way done with my next spooky, Maine-based YA novel, which I’m hoping to share with readers in 2020. This one has a contentious mother-daughter relationship, a creepy seaside inn, and scallop diving. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will be a winning combination.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
There’s a scene in the latter half of the book between our protagonist, Clara, who is the new kid in town and desperate for friendship; and Bree, the steely, unflinching girl next door who has taken Clara under her wing even though Bree finds it difficult to trust anyone. I found the tension almost unbearable. Clara has betrayed Bree in a way that may destroy their fragile connection, and the setting—the stark, barren salt marsh, where so many kids have been rumored to disappear over the years—I think only adds to general sense of dread as the girls face off. Will Clara tell Bree the truth, like her conscience demands, or keep up the lie?
The Missing Season
By: Gillian French
Release Date: May 21st, 2019
Three winners will receive a signed copy of The Missing Season (Gillian French) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*
This cover! I love how the tree carving combines the romantic tradition of intertwining initials (C+K... Clara and Kincaid??) with the disquieting title. Also the cover’s background, with its out-of-focus characters, contributes to the sort of gothic romance feel, too. Are we witnessing a quiet moment for a young couple? Or are we witnessing something darker... someone running away, maybe?
The synopsis reveals that readers will be following newcomer Clara as she navigates not just a circle of friends, but a community entrenched in its own mythology, urban legend.
I can’t wait to read The Missing Season, which so far seems to walk that line of gothic romance and psychological thriller for a YA audience!