Thursday, November 10, 2011

Author Interview: Sonia Gensler + Giveaway! (US/CA)

Please Welcome Sonia Gensler!

Sonia Gensler is a 2011 debut author of the riveting Gothic horror The Revenant. I reviewed The Revenant yesterday (I loved it!), but before you click away, please join in on the chat I had with Sonia about historical fantasy and The Revenant!  

 There are NO spoilers here!

How do you personally define historical fantasy?

I’m afraid I don’t have a very elaborate definition – I’d just say it’s historical fiction with fantasy or paranormal elements. I like that the category is broad enough to allow for a variety of stories.

What drew you to historical fantasy?

I’ve always been drawn to historical fiction, but sometimes I feel that straight historicals are overly preoccupied with period detail. In my mind, these details should never detract from the character development or story pacing. A paranormal or fantasy element signals to me that story is the main focus. (I still want the historical context to be accurately portrayed, of course!)

What are your historical fantasy must-reads? (*Note: I have added Goodreads links for the titles Sonia mentioned so you can easily add them to your TBR!)

One of my very favorite authors when I was younger was Guy Gavriel Kay. His spin on historical fantasy was a little different for me – he chose a specific period in history and then used it as a model for an alternate world, usually one that contained magic and/or other fantasy elements. A Song for Arbonne and The Lions of Al-Rassan were favorites, but I also loved The Fionavar Tapestry, his Arthurian trilogy. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon, a novel that focused on the women of the Arthurian legends, literally changed my life. Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy is one of my favorite examples of YA historical fantasy, and Franny Billingsley’s Chime is a very recent favorite that I recommend highly.

How did The Revenant change from pre-to-post publication?

The relationships deepened. The mystery grew more complicated. My favorite scene was cut. You know – the usual changes!

Why did you decide to call your ghost a revenant?

The word has an old-fashioned, Gothic ring to it, which seemed to suit the historical setting. I also enjoyed playing with its multiple meanings.

Your book has many Gothic elements and often reminded me of Wuthering Heights. Why did you choose to set your story in America at a Cherokee girls’ school instead of the more common Gothic setting in England on the moors?

Short answer – you can find Gothic anywhere and everywhere!

Longer answer: Gothic has much to do with dark secrets and shocking violence. America has a great deal of darkness in its past despite its relative youth as a nation. To me, the US government’s attempted annihilation of indigenous populations plays a huge part in America’s Gothic past. The Cherokee tribe rebounded from the Trail of Tears and worked hard to become an autonomous and prosperous nation, but some argue that their efforts resulted in the devaluing and/or loss of traditional customs and beliefs. I wanted to explore some of the darker implications of this trade-off in The Revenant through the snobbery and bullying at the Cherokee Female Seminary.

If you were to try to contact a revenant, what method of communication would you use: Ouija board, medium, necromancy, or something else?

I’ve tried a Ouija board before – long ago – and it was an uncomfortable experience. For me there’s too much danger of the participants consciously or unconsciously influencing the movement of the planchette. These days I might choose a medium. I’m not certain they’re any more reliable, but at least it would be entertaining to watch an “expert” do all the work!

Is there a genre you could never see yourself writing? Why not?

As much as I LOVE watching SciFi on film and TV, I could never imagine writing it. Sadly, I’m just not clever or patient enough to flesh out a futuristic world.

What's coming up next for you in terms of publication?

I have a second book coming out with Knopf in 2013. It’s another Gothic mystery, but with a completely different setting, situation, and cast of characters than The Revenant. I'm very excited about it!

Thank you so much for stopping by, Sonia! I literally squeed out loud when I read that last answer. I loved The Revenant and I can't wait to read more Gothic goodness from Sonia Gensler!

Have any of you read The Revenant? What did you think about it? What do you think about Sonia's response regarding the historical fantasy genre? Have you read any of the books she recommended? 

And what about you, if you were to try to contact a revenant, what method of communication would you pick? I think I would be far too much of a scaredy cat to even try!

Sonia Gensler is generously providing a copy of The Revenant for giveaway!

Info for the giveaway:
  • As always, you do NOT have to be a follower
  • You must have a US/CA mailing address
  • You must be 13 years of age or older
  • One entry per person
  • Your address is not required, but including it will help with sending the book out to you sooner
  • I will contact the winner through email and the winner will have 24 hours to reply before a new winner is chosen 
  • This giveaway ends December 7th 


  1. Great interview! I really want to read The Revenant after this interview and your review yesterday. I feel like a loser because I didn't like Chime that much. I did love Libba Bray's series though.

  2. I got Chime out from the library a while ago and got partway through it, but then it had to be returned. I should try it again! And it sounds interesting the way The Revenant connects the Gothic elements with the Cherokee history.

    Thanks for the giveaway, Small!

  3. Great interview, Small!!!
    I so want to read The REvenant, you totally got me hooked with yor review!

  4. I really liked the nuisance of "Chime" and thought it was brilliantly written. I also love the Gemma Doyle series. Can't wait to read Sonia's book!

  5. What an awesome interview! And that is such a great trailer! Changes my whole attitude about the book. And, your review did, too!

    Thanks to Sonia Gensler for donating the book for the giveaway!

    Great job, Small!


  6. Alison, I turned my nose up at Chime because it sounded depressing. I'm thinking maybe I should reconsider.

    Danya, Usually when I think of Gothic books I think of England on the moors, but they really worked perfectly in the Cherokee girls' school.

    Alex, Thanks! I really hope you like it!

    Rummanah, Oh? I think I should look into Chime more than my cursory first glance. I really hope you like The Revenant!

    Heahter, Thank you! Isn't the trailer great? I had the complete WRONG idea about this book before. I guess it really goes to show how important marketing can be.

  7. Yes, yes, yes! Another upcoming Gothic! Why don't more authors write Gothic mysteries? I adore them.
    This is yet again an awesome giveaway I wish I could enter. Gah!

  8. Love the idea of incorporating American history into a gothic tale.

    Great interview.

  9. Great interview! I just added The Revenant to my TBR list :) I would suggest A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. Thanks for the giveaway!

  10. If I believed that ghosts were real, I'd probably be too scared to try and contact them. Since I don't I'd probably go with an Ouija board and then laugh at what the "ghost" is trying to communicate while everyone glares at me. If funny things start happening though, I'm out of there!

  11. Great interview! Can't wait to hear more from you Sonia :) The trailer gave me goosebumps :p Thanks for the chance to win this awesome book!

  12. Ruby, I know! I WISH the genre was larger than it is. I want to enter this giveaway too. That's the downside to organizing an event :P

    Evie, Me too! The execution was fabulous.

    Holly, I hope you like it! A Great and Terrible Beauty seems like such a perfect example of the genre, yet I've somehow managed to miss out on reading it! I started it, but I never finished it and I don't remember why now.

    A Canadian Girl, Haha, yes, no funny business! I'm firmly in the camp of "Ghosts are not real" and yet they still terrify me!

    Angie, The trailer really is one of the better ones I've seen. I'm glad you liked the interview!


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