I’m beyond excited to have one of my favorite new authors on the blog today, Sarah Jude.
When I first heard of her book, The May Queen Murders, I flipped out. It sounded amazing. Something that I didn’t know I was waiting to read. And then I saw the cover and it was perfect. Let me share more…
The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude easily fits into the overlapping worlds of horror, suspense and romance. More freaky than gore, it’s not the usual fright-fest and instead pulls from Ozark lore that builds in tension as the secrets of traditions are unearthed. Satisfyingly spooky, The May Queen Murders pulls readers into a maze of what ifs and whodunit while developing a diverse lot of suspicious characters. An ALAN January pick along with a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, this novel should please fans of multiple genres and ages.
About the book
Title: The May Queen Murders
Pages: Hardcover, 304 pages
Release Date: May 3rd 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night.
Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.
Interview With Sarah Jude
Hi Sarah. Thank you so much for being willing to answer some questions. We are so excited to have you today! Let’s dive right in.
What is your writing process? What inspires you to write?
I actually kind of hate my writing process but it seems to work. My internal editor is very loud. I write the first fifty pages intending to meet my characters then step back to sort out the plot. That’s usually the point where I show it to my agent and ask if she thinks it has legs. I can usually tell when I’m coming toward the final stretch because this burst of energy takes over and I keep strange hours, like writing from two in the morning until five, sleeping until seven to get my kids ready for school, and then writing until ten at night when it starts all over again. I crash pretty hard at a book’s finish. It’s not a pretty sight.
As far as what inspires me, I draw a lot from folklore, of course. Inspiration comes from many places: a line in a song, driving through foggy countryside, staring at the ceiling in the dark of night. I’m a terrible insomniac and some of my best ideas come during those restless nights.
Fascinating insight. It’s always amazing to me, to read someone’s writing process. They are all so different. Speaking of writing, what advice do you have for other writers out there?
Persistence is everything. You must be willing to do the leg work in learning your craft, polishing it, and also taking criticism and rejection as something subjective rather than an absolute. Finding a great critique partner or a few can really help you to gain perspective on your work but also lift you up when you need it.
Thank you! That’s wonderful advice and it’s so true. Keep going! No matter what! So, being a horror blog, I have to ask. What is your favorite scary book or movie and why?
Nothing has ever freaked me out as much as THE EXORCIST, both the film and book. To me, it’s doubly scary because the real story behind it took place in St. Louis, near where I live in Missouri. I’ve seen the house, know people who were parishioners of the priest who performed the real exorcism. Nothing is more frightening to me than not being in control of your own mind and body.
We are huge fans and we follow you on Twitter. We can’t wait to celebrate The May Queen Murders going into the wild. So tell us, what can we look forward to next? What are you working on?
Well . . . I’d love to tell you but then I’d have to kill you.
Actually, I have several projects up my sleeve in different stages, and I’m not quite ready to talk about any of them except to say that I will always lean toward writing about troubled teens facing extraordinary difficulty in ordinary lives. If it’s a Sarah Jude book, you need to be prepared for fog, forests, and a little bit of murder.
Thank you so much for having me! I love the Midnight Society and it’s an honor to be here!
AHHH! I love it. You’re killing me. I am not sure I can wait much longer for MORE SARAH JUDE. But alas, I will if I have to. Thank you SO MUCH for stopping by. We are honored to have you here!
Let’s move on to the exclusive content, shall we?
Did you model your characters after anyone you know in real life? What traits do you think come directly from being familiar with the Ozark customs?
Most writers are guilty in one way or another of basing characters off someone they know or incorporating traits of friends and family into the people in their books. In THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS, Ivy has a speech impediment that mirrors one my own daughter has lived it and managed through speech therapy. The fact that Ivy is half-Mexican reverberates back to my own Mexican-American cousins. I’m close to them, and I never really thought about how different we look (I’m very pale) until someone pointed out to me that my cousins and I didn’t look like family. Honestly, our appearance doesn’t matter—they are beautiful people inside and out—but I found it so odd that someone had to say something about it.
Moreover, the book also helped me process the murder of a friend. She was the cousin of my best friend, who I had at times a very Heather-Ivy relationship with when we were teenagers, and my best friend had the same relationship with her cousin. It is so incredibly hard to feel left behind by the person who was the sparkling one, the radiant one, the special one, when you yourself feel as if maybe you can’t measure up. I think a good many teenagers go through the back and forth of loving their best friend but also struggling with finding their own identity and sorting out any jealousy, which is what I tapped in from my experience.
As far as traits that come about from my familiarity with Ozarks customs, I would say the superstition and storytelling aspect of the book. Believe me, when my husband’s Aunt Bev decides she’s going to tell a story, you sit with your mouth shut and you listen, and there’s a bit of Bev and her husband Gary, who lived in the Ozarks for years, in some of the wise women of Rowan’s Glen. All stories have some seed in reality, but it’s up to the writer to see how it’ll grow.
About Sarah Jude
Sarah Jude lives by the woods and has an owl that lands on her chimney every night. She grew up believing you had to hold your breath whenever you passed a graveyard or a bridge spanning water. Now she writes about cemeteries, murder, and ghostly apparitions. She resides in Missouri with her husband, three children, and three dogs.