Hello, Deb Readers! I am so excited to introduce you to Artemis Grey, author of Catskin, a gorgeously written and thoroughly compelling YA fantasy. Artemis and I met last year at the Sirens Conference, a gathering of female and non-binary sci-fi & fantasy authors and the readers who love them. I can’t wait to see her again this October now that I’ve had the chance to read Catskin, and I’m delighted that one of y’all will have the chance to win a copy in this week’s giveaway! As a fellow Appalachia-born girl, I’m also super looking forward to her upcoming series, which she’ll tell you a little about in the interview.
Sometimes the only way to find yourself is to go missing…
Shy, eighteen-year-old albino, Ansel, thought letting the runaway girl with the injured ankle sleep in his parents’ shed was a good idea. That was before she passed out in his shower, woke up in a panic and accidentally attacked him. Any average guy would have called the cops but average isn’t Ansel’s style.
When she refuses to tell him her real name, Ansel nicknames the girl Catskin, after one of his favorite fairytale characters, and begins the dubious task of earning her trust. It’s not an easy thing to do, but a few awkward conversations later, one thing is clear: Catskin doesn’t want to be the way she is, she just doesn’t think she can change. Ansel knows from his own experiences that seeing the world around you differently doesn’t mean that you’re wrong, something he intends to teach Catskin.
While the details of her past remain elusive, Catskin creates a new place for herself with Ansel and his family, and develops her own brand of normalcy. Then a terrible accident leaves her hovering near death, and Ansel is forced to contact her estranged parents. But there are secrets hidden in the life Catskin left behind. Dark secrets that chased her all the way to Healy, Alaska and Ansel’s actions unknowingly provoke a shocking confrontation between the wealthy world Catskin was born into, and the starkly average one she now shares with Ansel.
Refusing to give up the imperfect girl who fits perfectly inside his heart, Ansel prepares to go to war with Catskin’s father. But in the end, Catskin might be the only one who can save herself.
Interview with Artemis Grey
1. Talk about one thing that’s making you happy right now.
Right now, one of the things that’s making me the happiest I’ve been in a long time, is being devoid of my entire reproductive tract. It might be a little TMI for some folks, and if so, feel free to skip this answer, but I’ve dealt with adenomyosis since I got my first period at fifteen, and issues like adeno are still grossly overlooked and under-discussed. Thank all gods, I was a fearless, and resourceful, kid. By the time I was sixteen, I could rig a maxi pad out of rubber bands, a couple of paperclips, and a t-shirt sleeve. And I did, on more than one occasion. There’s just so much that isn’t discussed about what people dealing with adenomyosis, or endometriosis or PCOS, or other diseases and mechanisms relating to our repro-tracts go through. I mean, I follow a medical examiner on Instagram, and a couple of weeks back she posted a 7 week old naturally-aborted pregnancy, to show consistency and development. The tissue and clotting wasn’t even as much as I had to deal with through the duration of one period. Now picture that falling out of a young girl dealing with her first period, and then have all the adults in her life casually inform her that “all women deal with this, get over it”.
Thankfully, I had more support than that, and I got good at MacGyvering my body. But this past May, I had what the doctors planned to be a simple hysterectomy (uterus only, laparoscopically) but what turned out to be an abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Which is fancy lingo, for “took all my shit out the hard way”. Well, all but my cervix, which is now acting as a tentpole for what’s left of my sex circus. I’m glad things happened as they did, for me, because if they hadn’t, I’d probably have ended up having more surgeries, rather than getting rid of everything at once. The takeaway here is that the medical world still has no idea why some women suffer from these diseases, but the standard procedure is still to counsel us on how to deal with it rather than embrace the idea of removing the problem. It’s subject I could talk about for hours. Suffice to say, being about seven pounds lighter without my repro-tract, plus the weight I’ve lost since surgery, and the muscle I’ve built as I’m getting back into shape, and yeah, having no more baby equipment makes me very, very happy.
2. Where do you love to be?
On the face of it, this is such a simple question, but the answer is much less so. I love to be alone, but I love to be with family (and if you’re my friend, that means you’re family, I don’t have friends and family, I just have family, and more family) I love to be outside, but not outside in cities. I love to be inside, but not inside sterile buildings. I love old stones, and creaky wood floors, forgotten spaces, and shadowed corners. I love to be where memories are, where the past is still the present. I love to be inside the pages of books, and the minds of characters. I love to be inside my own characters, watching the me that others see moving through a world I still don’t entirely understand. I love to be at the edge of others’ vision, not quite existing, but there just the same. I love to be in the middle of things that might have been terrible, but which turn out to be totally okay instead. I love to be in that moment where the entire world shifts in a wonderful way that was an impossibility only a moment before. I love to inhabit that instant in which you know you should turn around and go back, but you plunge onward instead. I love to be where the rest of existence disappears.
3. When you were a teenager, what did you think you’d be when you grew up?
I’ve been told before that I have an old soul, and I think that’s true. I was a strange kid (by my own perceptions) and subsequently, I was a strange teenager. I never recall ever “planning” what I was going to do when I “grew up”. This was in no small part due to the fact that I had no desire to ever grow up. A job was, for me, a necessity in order to help “pay my way” in the world, but I never had, and still don’t possess any particular desire for a “successful career” in the same understanding that most people have. I always knew that I was a writer. It wasn’t a matter of “becoming” a writer when I grew up, I already was one. Not a very good one, maybe, but a writer, nonetheless. Even now, my goals are happiness, and writing, not success and career. Even though the two might be interchangeable in some senses and situations, the former will always trump the latter, when it comes to the decisions I make. Also, I continue to successfully avoid growing up.
4. What time of day do you love best?
I’ve always been a lover of the between times. Dusk and dawn, when the veils are thin, and anything is possible, are my very favorite times of day. I’ve read several articles in the last few years about how in history, people often actually slept twice a day, rather than all in one go, through the night. While I don’t fit into the exact time frame those articles described, I can, if left to my own devices, be up to watch dawn settle in, and then nap in the mid afternoon, up and about through twilight and into the small hours, and then sleep again until dawn. I adopted this routine by accident this summer while on medical leave for surgery. It was, I must say, the best I’ve felt in years.
5. What’s your next big thing?
My current big project, which I’m very excited about, is a series of books that sort of dance back and forth between Urban Fantasy and Magical Realism, combining magical elements with fairy folklore and traditional superstitions. And maybe a few ghosts. While they’ll share themes, and characters, they’ll be standalone novels, sort of a la Holly Black’s A Modern Tale of Faerie series.
Pohickery Girl is the first book in this series, and I’m currently in the process of querying it to agents. Set in the Appalachians of West Virginia, Pohickery Girl is really a story born of my own childhood. My Momma was born in a tiny little mountain town in West Virginia, and she grew up doing things like eating fresh bread baked in a wood cookstove, which for most folks is beyond conception. Many of the places in Pohickery Girl, like Snake Run, where the main character, Willow lives, actually exist. My Grandfather grew up in Snake Run, and just as it is in my book, it ain’t a place you go if’n you don’t got reason to be there. The very way folks view life is different in the hollers, and I tried to capture that succinctly, while not overdoing it in a ham-handed way. Most of the last names in Pohickery Girl, Dixon, Ryan, Cleavenger, are real family names. Many of the people they’re taken from still live up in WV, though some have suffered greatly since the flood of 2016, which nearly wiped my Momma’s hometown of Rainelle off the face of the earth. But as that town’s motto “A town built to carry on” states, mountain folk are resilient, and enduring. This resolute strength is something I grew up with, and have tried to translate within Pohickery Girl. Much of the lore and information about haints, too, are things I grew up hearing, and living by. It’s my hope to capture some of the magic of the Appalachians, to pay homage to them in this book series.
Thank you so much for having me on The Ball!
Artemis Grey was raised on fairytales and the folklore of Appalachia. She’s been devouring books and regurgitating her daydreams into written words since childhood. She can be found writing by a crackling fire or rambling barefooted through the woods and mountains, napping (yes, napping) on horseback, searching the depths of random wardrobes and wriggling into hollow tree trunks. In her downtime, she herds cats, which is just as entertaining as it sounds. She hopes to make her readers look at the world they’ve always seen, and see the world they’ve always envisioned. Her debut, CATSKIN, was released March 17, 2016.
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Guest Post: Interview with Artemis Grey, author of CATSKIN, a lush YA fantasy. Share to win! https://t.co/dB5h3oaMWo…uthor-of-catskin/
— The Debutante Ball (@DebutanteBall) September 23, 2017
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