Friday, September 21, 2012

Feature Friday: Robin Bridges

Robin Bridges is the author of the YA historical fantasy series, THE KATERINA TRILOGY. Set in Imperial Russia at the end of the nineteenth century, the first volume, THE GATHERING STORM, was published in January 2012 from Random House/ Delacorte Press. The second volume, THE UNFAILING LIGHT, will be published in October 2012. Robin is a member of the 2012 Debut Author group, the Apocalypsies, as well as the Class 2K12 and SCBWI. She lives on the Gulf Coast with her husband, one teenager, and two mastiffs. She likes playing video games and watching Jane Austen movies.

Interview: 
A.L.:
What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?

 Robin: 
Read. A lot. Not just in the genre you want to write, but also classics, comics, non-fiction, poetry. Read blogs and websites about writing. I’ve learned so much about this business from the websites and message boards of Cynthia Leitich Smith and Verla Kay. And write. A lot. Someone once said a writer’s apprenticeship takes a million words.

A.L.: 
Other than Jane Austen, what's your favorite book and why?

Robin: 
Just one??? Today my favorite book, other than the giant annotated version (with deleted chapters!) of Austen’s Persuasion that just arrived in the mail, is Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion. It’s another story that takes place in regency England, but the hero is the unassuming type whom no one suspects of having heroic qualities. He surprises everyone in the end, including himself. I just re-read this book this week and fell in love with the characters all over again. Also, the book on my nightstand right now is Tessa Gratton’s Blood Magic. Deliciously creepy bedtime reading!

A.L.: 
Where did you get the idea for The Katerina Trilogy?

Robin: 
I’ve always been fond of Russian fairy tales, especially the stories of Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave. I’m also a huge nerd when it comes to Imperial Romanov history. After watching Nicholas and Alexandra as a girl, I decided that I was related to Count Witte, the tsar’s finance minister. (My grandmother was a Witte, but alas, was NOT related to the count. I still went through my teen years pretending to be a countess.)

 A.L.: 
Which one of the characters in The Katerina Trilogy is your favorite and why?

Robin: 
Ugh, another tough question! I think it would be Alix. She has secrets of her own, and shares a lot more in common with Katiya than she would prefer to believe. She may be naïve to the ways of St. Petersburg society, but she knows the duty she must perform because of her own dark gift.

A.L.:
The Gathering Storm is the first book in the series and The Unfailing Light, the sequel, is coming out soon. What can we expect from Katerina’s newest adventure?

Robin: 
More smooching and more undead. Here’s the flap copy: Having had no choice but to use her power has a necromancer to save Russia from dark forces, Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, now wants to forget that she ever used her special powers. She's about to set off to pursue her lifelong dream of attending medical school when she discovers that Russia's arch nemesis--who she thought she'd destroyed--is still alive. So on imperial orders, Katerina remains at her old finishing school. She'll be safe there, because the empress has cast a potent spell to protect it against the vampires and revenants who are bent on toppling the tsar and using Katerina for their own gains. But to Katerina's horror, the spell unleashes a vengeful ghost within the school, a ghost more dangerous than any creature trying to get in.

A.L.: 
What drew you (1) to young adult literature, and (2) to historic literature?

Robin: 
Both are genres I’ve always enjoyed reading. I lived at the library when I was younger, and read and re-read favorites by Andre Norton and Madeline L’Engle, as well as tons of biographies- people such as Queen Elizabeth and Madame Curie and Samuel Clemens. Having an aunt who was a librarian helped, too. She introduced me to Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain, one of my favorite fantasy series when I was younger.

A.L.: 
Katerina’s world is filled with necromancers, paranormals, and political intrigue. Why go the way of the fantastic instead of just making a straight-up piece of historic literature?

 Robin: 
There was already a hint of paranormal in the real stories of these characters and that intrigued me! The Montenegrin sisters were known as the Black Peril- they were fond of séances and fortune tellers, and collected occult manuscripts from Egypt and the Orient. Papus, whom you’ll meet in THE UNFAILING LIGHT, was a member of several occult orders in France and later advised Nicholas when he was the tsar. He once conjured up the ghost of Alexander III. Papus was one of the people who would later warn Nicholas of the dangers of Rasputin. He also predicted that the tsar would be safe as long as he (Papus) was alive. The Imperial Family was killed less than a year after the Frenchman’s death. Princess Cantacuzene could really trace her ancestry back to the House of Bessaraba, and Vlad Dracul.

 A.L.:
Is Katerina based off of a real-life person or is she entirely of your own making?

Robin: 
Katerina is the only major character in the trilogy that I made up. The Duke and Duchess of Oldenburg only had one son, Pyotr Alexandrovich. Although he was married twice he never had any children, so that branch of the Oldenburg family is now extinct.

A.L.: 
Did you incorporate your own experience as a pediatric nurse with Katerina’s love of medicine?

Robin: 
I find the history of medicine fascinating, and I enjoyed researching Russian medicine of the 1800’s. The fact that so many diseases that would have been fatal back then are now easily curable makes me wish I had a time machine. I could be a Pediatric Time Lord RN, saving the world with my bottle of hand sanitizer.

A.L.: 
What kind of preparation did you do for making this series accurate?

Robin:
I started by reading the message boards of the Alexander Palace Time Machine, where there are all sorts of topics on Imperial Russian history. Then I started to accumulate a not-so-small library of books on the Romanovs, as well as some on the Montenegrin dynasty. I read books about the history of women and medicine in Russia. I corresponded with a very nice lady who is in charge of the museum of medical history at the University of Zurich. Alas, my plans to travel to St. Petersburg were nixed by my husband, who forbids me to go until I am fluent in Russian. But one day…

The Giveaway: 
Robin really outdid herself spoiling you guys for this giveaway! Ready? She's giving away a hardcopy of book one, THE GATHERING STORM, a ARC or author copy of book two, THE UNFAILING LIGHT, and bookmarks and stickers. Fun goodiebag, right? I'm jealous of you people, you all get such fun stuff...


The Gathering Storm: St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue. An evil presence is growing within Europe's royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina's strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar's standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina's help to safeguard Russia, even if he's repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn. The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?
 Read Goodreads reviews.
Buy it on Barnes and Noble.
Buy it on Amazon.

The Unfailing Light: Having had no choice but to use her power has a necromancer to save Russia from dark forces, Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, now wants to forget that she ever used her special powers. She's about to set off to pursue her lifelong dream of attending medical school when she discovers that Russia's arch nemesis--who she thought she'd destroyed--is still alive. So on imperial orders, Katerina remains at her old finishing school. She'll be safe there, because the empress has cast a potent spell to protect it against the vampires and revenants who are bent on toppling the tsar and using Katerina for their own gains. But to Katerina's horror, the spell unleashes a vengeful ghost within the school, a ghost more dangerous than any creature trying to get in.
 Read Goodreads reviews.
Buy it on Barnes and Noble.
Buy it on Amazon.


How to Enter: 
Enter the giveaway using Rafflecopter. Hit the green "Do It" buttons, follow the prompts, and hit the green enter buttons when you're done. (You may have to log in using Facebook to do this). There will be one winner (selected by Rafflecopter). I will contact the winner via email. This contest is open to international entrants.

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