Sunday, September 7, 2014

GUEST POST: Holly Schindler, Author of FERAL


In 2014, I’ve released two very different books: THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, a middle-grade contemporary read about a young girl becoming a folk artist, and FERAL, a YA psychological thriller.

I can’t say I have a favorite genre, or that I find that there are genres that are more difficult or require more work or research.  What I love, actually, is being able to stretch myself as a writer.  Part of loving to write in multiple genres stems from the fact that my reading interests are incredibly varied: I’m an old lit major, so I do love the classics.  Also, I read everything from contemporary adult novels to children’s lit to romance to fantasy to mysteries to cereal boxes…

In all seriousness, I’m just a tried-and-true lifelong fan of the written word.  Can’t get enough of it.  That’s been the case since I was a little girl, and had to have a new Little Golden Book each time I went to the supermarket with my mom.  

Regardless of genre, I will say that what comes to be most naturally is metaphorical writing.  Auggie in THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY speaks heavily in simile, and FERAL as a whole is a metaphor for the frightening aspect of recovering from violence.  What’s tough is writing a dramatic scene in which I’m trying to depict something physically happening.  I have great respect for writers who consistently tackle action-driven work.  It’s far harder than it appears at first glance.

I also feel that writing in one genre actually strengthens another—primarily because there’s so much overlap.  For example, mysteries can contain romantic elements.  Having written a full-on romance only strengthens the romantic elements of your new mystery.  Or, having written for kids means that you create better, more authentic child characters in adult work… 
Having published both MG and YA, contemporary realism, romance, and a psychological thriller, I can’t wait to find out where I’ll be headed next…

                                                             FERAL jacket copy:
The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know.

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….

Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.


FERAL falls squarely into the realm of the classic psychological thriller.  While the book features mystery, horror, and paranormal elements, the emphasis is on the “psychological” rather than thriller / action.  The novel features a Hitchcockian pace and focus on character development (here, we’re exploring the inner workings of the main character, Claire Cain).  Essentially, every aspect of FERAL is used to explore Claire’s inner workings—that even includes the wintry Ozarks setting.  The water metaphor is employed frequently in psychological thrillers to represent the subconscious, and here is incorporated in the form of a brutal ice storm (that represents Claire’s “frozen” inner state).  The attempt to untangle what is real from what is unreal (another frequently-used aspect of the psychological thriller) also begins to highlight the extent to which Claire was hurt in that Chicago alley.  Even the explanation of the odd occurrences in the town of Peculiar offers an exploration into and portrait of Claire’s psyche.  Ultimately, FERAL is a book about recovering from violence—that’s not just a lengthy or hard process; it’s a terrifying process, too.  The classic psychological thriller allowed me to explore that frightening process in detail.  


Thank you for sharing Holly! You can check out my review of FERAL HERE  and also check out my review of THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY HERE

Holly Schindler Bio:

Holly Schindler is the author of the critically acclaimed A BLUE SO DARK (Booklist starred review,
ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medal recipient) as well as PLAYING HURT (both YAs). 

Her debut MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, also released in ’14, and became a favorite of teachers and librarians, who used the book as a read-aloud.  Kirkus Reviews called THE JUNCTION “...a heartwarming and uplifting story...[that] shines...with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.” 

FERAL is Schindler’s third YA and first psychological thriller.  Publishers Weekly gave FERAL a starred review, stating, “Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler’s third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A BLUE SO DARK…This time, the focus is on women’s voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking…This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees.”

Schindler encourages readers to get in touch.  Booksellers, librarians, and teachers can also contact her directly regarding Skype visits.  She can be reached at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com, and can also be found at,, @holly_schindler,, and




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