It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.
But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.
But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….
Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.
FERAL AND THE PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER:
FERAL falls squarely into the realm of the classic psychological thriller. While the book features mystery, horror, and paranormal elements, the emphasis is on the “psychological” rather than thriller / action. The novel features a Hitchcockian pace and focus on character development (here, we’re exploring the inner workings of the main character, Claire Cain). Essentially, every aspect of FERAL is used to explore Claire’s inner workings—that even includes the wintry Ozarks setting. The water metaphor is employed frequently in psychological thrillers to represent the subconscious, and here is incorporated in the form of a brutal ice storm (that represents Claire’s “frozen” inner state). The attempt to untangle what is real from what is unreal (another frequently-used aspect of the psychological thriller) also begins to highlight the extent to which Claire was hurt in that Chicago alley. Even the explanation of the odd occurrences in the town of Peculiar offers an exploration into and portrait of Claire’s psyche. Ultimately, FERAL is a book about recovering from violence—that’s not just a lengthy or hard process; it’s a terrifying process, too. The classic psychological thriller allowed me to explore that frightening process in detail.
What are your top 10 favorite books of all time?
I’m a lifelong reader. I had to have a new Little Golden Book every time I went to the supermarket with my mom, back when I was still little enough to fit in the cart. When I graduated to novels, I was usually reading them with a flashlight under the covers until all hours. I was literature major in college, too—and while I dearly love contemporary reads, there’s just something about a classic. Something sort of…soothing or delicious about a book written hundreds of years ago. So my all-time favorites run the gamut. These are my favorites from childhood, from my “classics” shelf, from more recent years:
1. IN COLD BLOOD by Truman Capote – I discovered this one in college. One of my profs asked me to proctor a final exam for him; I brought it on a whim to have something to do (I was finished with my own tests). I was completely mesmerized by the quiet, chilling portrait of murder in a small town—so much so, I wished I had another test or two left to oversee!
2. FALL INTO DARKNESS by Christopher Pike – I grew up on contemporary, realistic fiction. When I found Christopher Pike in junior high, I discovered books that were more adventure-driven, felt cinematic. I loved that.
3. THE PAIN AND THE GREAT ONE – Judy Blume’s picture book about a couple of siblings. Her descriptions of the brother and sister could have been me and my younger brother. It was the first time I saw myself in a book I was reading—and that was a big part, I think, of hooking me as a young reader.
4. JANE EYRE by Charlotte Brontë – I must’ve read this one three or four different times in college. It just kept getting assigned—in Victorian Lit, Women’s Lit, etc. I remember one of my friends asking me why I was taking the time to read it again when I’d read it for a class the semester before. I had to admit it was for pure pleasure.
5. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by JD Salinger – As someone who writes in the YA category, I’ve just got to love this one. Its impact on YA lit is still being felt today.
6. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee – My favorite of all the books assigned in high school (isn’t it everyone’s)?
7. EMILY DICKINSON’S COLLECTED WORKS – I love Dickinson. And when you read her poems all together, one after another, they begin to read like a novel in verse.
8. MYSTIC RIVER by Dennis Lehane – A contemporary classic. A mystery that reads like a literary novel.
9. FIELD OF DREAMS by W. P. Kinsella – Also one of my all-time favorite movies. Just a great fantasy story.
10. Laura Ingalls Wilder – I’m a Missouri girl, so I had to put a classic Missouri writer on the list. I think Wilder’s work tends to trend younger now—her LITTLE HOUSE books are generally considered children’s literature—and I read them as a girl, too. So you can also say Wilder’s one of my favorite MG authors as well.
Holly Schindler is the author of the critically acclaimed A BLUE SO DARK (Booklist starred review, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medal recipient) as well as PLAYING HURT (both YAs).
Her debut MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, also released in ’14, and became a favorite of teachers and librarians, who used the book as a read-aloud. Kirkus Reviews called THE JUNCTION “...a heartwarming and uplifting story...[that] shines...with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.”
FERAL is Schindler’s third YA and first psychological thriller. Publishers Weekly gave FERAL a starred review, stating, “Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler’s third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A BLUE SO DARK…This time, the focus is on women’s voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking…This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees.”
Schindler encourages readers to get in touch. Booksellers, teen librarians, and teachers can also contact her directly regarding Skype visits. She can be reached at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com, and can also be found at hollyschindler.com, hollyschindler.blogspot.com, @holly_schindler, Facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor, and hollyschindler.tumblr.com.
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