Dark, Gothic YA? Q&A with Marta Acosta and win DARK COMPANION

A quick commercial message…Susannah Sandlin continues her blog tour today at My Bookish Fairy Tale, talking about how vampires ever got into Alabama. Check it out to win prizes! I also have a new annotated chapter of Royal Street over on my website…check it out if you’re so inclined 🙂

Now….Today, I’d like to welcome one of my favorite writer folk, author Marta Acosta. You might know Marta best from her fun Casa Dracula urban fantasy series, but she’s here today to talk about her new Young Adult book, Dark Companion, which came out this week with Tor Teen.

A mini review here. If you’ve read this blog for very long you know I’m seriously over a few things in YA books. Anything that sparkles in sunlight? God, no, please. High school cafeteria scenes? Uh-uh. Excessive whining? Go away. Sixteen-year-old girls who suddenly discover mysterious abilities that only she holds and that leave her as the only possible one who can save humankind? Blow us up already. I reserve to start liking some of those things again if I find the right book, but for now….no.

You will not find those things in Dark Companion. And let’s state right up front–it’s probably not what you’re expecting. It will throw some curve balls your way. It’s dark. We are not talking cheery summer beach read here. It’s kinda sorta not paranormal exactly and yet maybe it is. It works on so many levels, from surface-level storytelling to deeper social and psychological issues.

So, that’s all I’ll say here except I loved this book. Loved it. You can find out more about Marta at her website. And you can read on for a chance to win a copy of the book!

ABOUT DARK COMPANION: When foster teen Jane Williams is invited to attend elite Birch Grove Academy for Girls and escape her violent urban neighborhood, she thinks the offer is too good to be true. She’s even offered her own living quarters, the groundskeeper’s cottage in the center of the birch grove.

     Something’s not quite right about the school — or is it Jane? She thinks she sees things in the birch grove at night. She’s also beginning to suspect that the elegant headmistress and her sons are hiding secrets. Lucky is the gorgeous, golden son who is especially attentive to Jane, and Jack is the sardonic puzzling brother.
     The school with its talented teachers and bright students is a dream for a science and math geek like Jane. She also loves her new friends, including hilarious poetry-spouting rich girl, Mary Violet. But the longer Jane stays at Birch Grove, the more questions she has about the disappearance of another scholarship girl and a missing faculty member.
     Jane discovers one secret about Birch Grove, which only leads to more mysteries. What is she willing to sacrifice in order to stay at this school…and be bound to Birch Grove forever?

Now, let’s hear from Marta. Welcome!

Give us the “elevator pitch” for Dark Companion. Dark Companion is a modern gothic and homage to Jane Eyre and classic gothics. It is a decidedly dark tale that deconstructs vampire romanticism, and addresses class and sexism. I know – doesn’t that sound fun!

What is your favorite scene in the book? My favorite scene is when Jack takes Jane home from the dance and they’re standing together in the birch grove at night with the wind rushing around them. I wanted it to have a romantic, eerie, otherworldly feeling.

Hardest scene you’ve ever written: The hardest scene wasn’t in Dark Companion, but in Haunted Honeymoon, Casa Dracula #4. It was a scene with lots of action and multiple characters and it had to serve several purposes. I struggled for weeks trying to figure out a solution.

What’s on your nightstand or top of your TBR pile? Right now I’m going through my gardening books again. The photographs and descriptions are very tempting. I was a freelance garden writer and sometimes the mania returns.

Favorite book when you were a child: I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, and Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins.

Your five favorite authors: In no particular order, Mark Twain, Jane Austen, Henry James, Charlotte Bronte, and P.G. Wodehouse.

Book you’ve faked reading: There are books I never finished, such as A Passage to India, but I don’t pretend I’ve read them. I like other E.M. Forster novels better.

Book you’re an evangelist for: I’ve bought and given away many copies of John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces and Mario Vargas Llosa’s Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter. I have a passion for absurdist fiction.

Book you’ve bought for the cover: There are lots of books I want to buy for beautiful covers, but I’m cynical and skeptical so I make sure the book is something I actually want to read before purchasing it.

Book that changed your life: It wasn’t a book, but a play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I fell in love with Shakespeare and theatre, and went on to study literature and drama, and later to work in the theatre.

Favorite line from a book: From Jane Eyre: “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you.”

Book you most want to read again for the first time: Persuasion by Jane Austen.

Most horrifying moment while reading a book: Probably being on the train, looking up from my book, and realizing I’d missed my stop and had no idea where I was.

Favorite book about books or writing:
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, where literature is something worth fighting about.

What’s next? I’m working on two projects. The Poison Tree is a gothic story of two young women haunting each other across generations. Mary Violet and the Case of the Silent Songbird features a fabulous character from Dark Companion as she sleuths to solve a mystery.
      I’m also creating audiobooks of my Casa Dracula series with Audible’s terrific new ACX program. I’ve got a wonderful narrator, Patricia Fructuoso, and the audiobooks will have fun, sexy cover art by the very talented Christian Nacorda.

Suzanne, thanks for having me here at Preternatura, one of my very favorite book sites!

Thank you, Marta!

So…have you ever had a “lost in a book” experience? Here’s mine: For the first two months of my current day job, I was commuting an hour each way from another town where I was camping out with a friend while waiting for my house in New Orleans to sell. So I was listening to a lot of audio books. While in the middle of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, I got so engrossed I missed my exit, and by the time I realized I had no idea where I was, I began looking around and discovered I was in Georgia. Umm….I was NOT supposed to be in Georgia! 

You know the drill to win a signed copy of Dark Companion. One entry for comment, another for blog follow, a third for a Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and a fourth for a Tweet or Retweet. Now…Go forth and comment!

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

33 thoughts on “Dark, Gothic YA? Q&A with Marta Acosta and win DARK COMPANION

  1. Thanks for the great Q&A and giveaway! Anything that cites Jane Eyre and the gothic tradition as inspiration is right up my alley!!

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    boowormsusanna AT gmail DOT com

  2. Marta,

    My copy of Dark Companion is in the mail per B&N.
    Have the Casa Dracula series also. Plan to have them signed when you come to Lake Forest or Skokie on the “Girl’s Nighmare Out” book tour.
    Thanks for the Q&A with Suzanna.

    • Ha, Roger–it was not my smartest moment!! Here’s the further stupidity. I had to drag out a map to realize I’d driven into Georgia. For a while I had no clue where I was.

  3. lol happens all the time. Dinner is late, house is a mess. My family can always tell when I’m lost in a book. Most recently, I didn’t realize I had missed my kids Dr. appt. Was so engrossed in the book I was reading, thought I had a good 20 min till we needed to leave the house. By the time I actually looked up from the book and checked the clock, we had already missed the appt. by a good 30 min.

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  4. I’ve heard awesome things about Dark Companion! I love retellings, and how awesome to have a retelling of one of the 19thC classics! I agree with Marta, her favorite authors are mine too:)

    I got lost in a book when I was reading Masque of the Red Death, forgot to get off the subway and was way late!

    Thanks so much:)

    ccfioriole at gmail dot com

  5. Ha, great story. I get lost in books all the time but I’ve never ended up in Georgia! I’d love to win a copy of Dark Companion, please enter my name in the draw.

    I follow this blog by email: carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

    I also follow your tweets on Twitter: @carlrscott

    And, I tweeted a link to this blog post: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/220947097996894209


  6. Well this book sounds eerie all on its own! Nothing like a little haunting with secrets and mysteries! You’d have to be crazy not to sign up to win this one!! 🙂 and I love her comment about buying books for their covers. Hehehe I feel the same way 🙂 I follow via email network blogs and twitter 🙂 thanks again!

  7. Hi, Suzanne! Thanks for having me here. Lost in a book indeed!

    -Susie, Gaelena, and Marie-Claude, I’m so glad to introduced gothic to younger readers.
    -Roger, I owe you an email! It’s in the ever-growing inbox. Hope you love a darker story than my CD books.
    -Jolene, I won’t comment upon your mothering skills, but you have admirable reading devotion!
    -Sandy and Tina, there is one Casa Dracula character who shows up in this book.
    -Christina, I would have loved to hear you explain your lateness to your boss.
    -Molly, if you like my funny books, you’ll love my Mary Violet character. She’s in the same mold as Milagro and Nancy.
    -Sarah, the challenge is in bringing a theme to the modern era where all the mores have changed. A mad wife in the attic could easily be divorced today. I tried to echo some of the emotions of Jane Eyre, but not recreate it because I think it’s perfect as it is.
    -Carl, wouldn’t it be a fun conceit in an urban fantasy if reading books could physically transport you to other places?
    -Maghon, I was always too broke to have the luxury of buying a book for its cover. I also love to shove a book in a bag or dogear it and not to worry about marring it.

  8. This book sounds very intriguing!

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  9. Thanks for the nice interview! A young adult novel, without all the usual tropes? This sounds interesting indeed!

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  10. I enjoyed the interview. The book sounds good.

    I follow the blog.


  11. Hiya..i missed my chance to win this book in another blog..so i would really like the chance to win this book this time ..
    Love Martha’s book 😀

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    uniquas at ymail dot com

  12. I lost myself in a book more than once: I completely lost track of time and space and forgot to do things!!

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    aliasgirl at libero dot it

  13. Thanks for the interview. I have wanted to read this book for a while. I also follow Marta’s blogs too. I sometimes don’t even hear my husband talking to me when I am reading a book.

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    pefrw at yahoo dot com

  14. I’ve been seeing a lot about this novel on twitter and I am definitely intrigued.

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    Sara M
    sara_UFblog [at] yahoo [dot] com