So excited to welcome this week’s guest, Kris Waldherr!
Kris Waldherr is an award-winning author, illustrator, and designer. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, and her fiction has been awarded with fellowships by the Virginia Center of the Creative Arts and a reading grant by Poets & Writers. Kris Waldherr works and lives in Brooklyn in a Victorian-era house with her husband, the anthropologist-curator Thomas Ross Miller, and their young daughter.
Keep reading to find out how you can win a copy of Kris’s haunting Gothic debut novel The Lost History of Dreams (out next Tuesday, April 9th). I was lucky enough to read an advance copy, and it’s definitely one of my favorite reads of the year!
Which talent do you wish you had?
I regret that I do not speak another language. I credit this to my decision to go to a high school with an intensive art program followed by the School of Visual Arts for college; languages weren’t offered as electives. Though I’ve since managed to pick up a little French, Italian and German for travel, it’s nowhere near being fluent. I’m deeply envious of people who can speak multiple languages without breaking a beat. Every so often, I’ll take a whack at learning via Duolingo, but it’s not the same as studying a language when you’re a teenager in a formal setting.
What time of day do you love best?
Though I’m by nature a night owl, morning is my favorite time of day. I usually get my best thinking and writing accomplished then. Once I get my daughter off to school, I like sitting with my coffee before all the world is awake; if the weather is nice, I’ll go out in my garden with my laptop. Plus I love the sense of possibility a new day offers.
What was the first piece of writing you ever published or saw in print?
When I was at SVA, I had a poem published in the school literary journal. Strangely, at the time I didn’t think “Hey, this is my first officially published piece of writing!” I don’t even know if I have the journal in storage, but I do remember the poem. It was a reworking of the Grimm’s fairy tale of The Goose Girl; at the time I was very inspired by TRANSFORMATIONS, Anne Sexton’s collection of fairy tale poems.
Tell us about a book that made you cry.
Oh gosh, I weep over books probably more than I weep over films, and that’s saying something. My daughter is always embarrassed by my crying when we’re out in a movie theater! As far as books go, I sobbed like a madwoman through the final chapters of Audrey Niffenegger’s THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE. I was reading it on a train while traveling in Italy, and finally had to put the book away to avoid alarming other passengers; I may have pretended to have a cold. Frankly, I’m a sucker for any novel involving star-crossed love. I also adored how Niffenegger incorporated references to Penelope and THE ODYSSEY.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Travel! I write historical fiction, which is very research intensive. On top of that, I’m someone who needs to know as much as possible about the world in which my book takes place; for my muses to work their magic, my brain has to be stuffed with as much information and sense memories as it can hold. Travel can feel so extravagant—I mean, shouldn’t some photos, Google Earth, and imagination be enough for a writer?—but I’ve found travel makes such a huge difference. Plus it’s fun.
For THE LOST HISTORY OF DREAMS, I traveled twice to England, where I walked the paths trod by Robert, my post-mortem photographer protagonist, in London and Shropshire. The library in Wellington, the closest city to where the main action of my novel takes place, was a treasure trove of archaic information about nineteenth century inns, train routes, coach routes, maps, and local wildlife. A secondary plotline led me to travel to Herne Bay, Paris, and Sèvres. Later after LOST HISTORY was sold to Atria Books, a final research trip took me to Rochester, New York to visit the George Eastman Museum for a greater understanding of daguerreotype plate formats and antique cameras, and to doublecheck my research. As far as future novels, I’ve already taken one trip to research my current WIP, and am tentatively planning my next for (hopefully!) later this year.
Retweet this post (make sure you follow @DebutanteBall too!) or share it on Facebook for a chance to win a copy of The Lost History of Dreams! We will contact the lucky winners on Friday, April 12th (US Only).
All love stories are ghost stories in disguise.
When famed Byronesque poet Hugh de Bonne is discovered dead of a heart attack in his bath one morning, his cousin Robert Highstead, a historian turned post-mortem photographer, is charged with a simple task: transport Hugh’s remains for burial in a chapel. This chapel, a stained glass folly set on the moors of Shropshire, was built by de Bonne sixteen years earlier to house the remains of his beloved wife and muse, Ada. Since then, the chapel has been locked and abandoned, a pilgrimage site for the rabid fans of de Bonne’s last book, The Lost History of Dreams.
However, Ada’s grief-stricken niece refuses to open the glass chapel for Robert unless he agrees to her bargain: before he can lay Hugh to rest, Robert must record Isabelle’s story of Ada and Hugh’s ill-fated marriage over the course of five nights.
As the mystery of Ada and Hugh’s relationship unfolds, so does the secret behind Robert’s own marriage—including that of his fragile wife, Sida, who has not been the same since the tragic accident three years ago, and the origins of his own morbid profession that has him seeing things he shouldn’t—things from beyond the grave.
Kris Waldherr effortlessly spins a sweeping and atmospheric gothic mystery about love and loss that blurs the line between the past and the present, truth and fiction, and ultimately, life and death.