Friday, June 11, 2010


Last month at the Ohioana Book Festival, Lisa Klein was kind enough to give me an advanced copy of her upcoming YA book, CATE OF THE LOST COLONY. I saved it for my travel read when I went to BEA last month, which may have been a mistake because I couldn't put it down. Yes, I had a deadline looming, but I had to know what was going to happen to Cate! Today I am happy to pass the ARC along to you. I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did!

The Author: I met Lisa at one of our local SCBWI meetings. She was talking then about her book OPHELIA (another beautiful read. Check it out!) Lisa started writing when she was eight, although some of her projects (such as a play adaptation of Heidi meant to be acted out by her friends at recess) weren't quite as well-received as her recent works. She studied English and Theology in college and then went on to earn an Ph.D. in literature. For eight years, she taught English as an assistant professor - which included a lot of Shakespeare - and did research on the writings and domestic culture of Renaissance women.

If you've read any of her books, OPHELIA, TWO GIRLS OF GETTYSBURG, and LADY MACBETH'S DAUGHTER, you'll see her expertise shown in her love of history and attention to detail. (If you haven't read any of her books, what are you waiting for??)

The Book:
"The greatest unsolved mystery of American history--what happened to all the colonists who landed on Roanoke Island in 1587?" Lady Catherine is one of Queen Elizabeth's favorite court maidens—until her forbidden romance with Sir Walter Ralegh is discovered. In a bitter twist of irony, the jealous queen banishes Cate to Ralegh's colony of Roanoke, in the New World. Ralegh pledges to come for Cate, but as the months stretch out, Cate begins to doubt his promise and his love. Instead it is Manteo, a Croatoan Indian, whom the colonists—and Cate—increasingly turn to. Yet just as Cate's longings for England and Ralegh fade and she discovers a new love in Manteo, Ralegh will finally set sail for the New World. Seamlessly weaving together fact with fiction, Lisa Klein's newest historical drama is an engrossing tale of adventure and forbidden love—kindled by one of the most famous mysteries in American history: the fate of the settlers at Roanoke, who disappeared without a trace forty years before the Pilgrims would set foot in Plymouth.

The interview:
What inspired you to write Cate of the Lost Colony?
I found an old book about the Lost Colony in a second-hand bookstore and realized I knew nothing about this part of history, so I decided to read up on it and see if there was a story there. When I told people I was thinking of writing about the Lost Colony, their eyes lit up and they would say, “Oooh, whatever happened to those people?” So I decided to answer that question for myself.

What was the most interesting thing you learned while researching for this book?
That Sir Walter Ralegh, even though he was appointed governor of Virginia and known for introducing tobacco to England, never set foot in America!

What excites you?
A new book idea, the stage of plotting it out and coming up with a main character I love enough to spend two years with, every day.
What turns you off?
Bad writing, my own or someone else’s. I think words matter, and they create such powerful impressions that it’s worth the time and effort to choose the right ones and put them in the best order.

If you could invite anyone you wanted - living or dead - to hang out with you at a weekend retreat, who would you invite and why?
Let me go with the dead ones here: I would have a dinner party and invite Jesus Christ, Abraham Lincoln, Queen Elizabeth I, and someone to really shake things up, like the emperor Nero. If I had to choose just one person to hang out with, it would be…William Shakespeare!
What is an average writing day like for you?
Get up, shower, read the paper, sit down at my computer, resist the siren call of email and Facebook, write for a few hours, have lunch, write/research a few more hours, until I have, say, 4 pages, which is a very good day. An average day has many more small frustrations, maybe just a page of new writing but some good rewriting. A bad day is, “Hey it’s 3:00 and I have nothing to show for the last six hours except a pile of folded towels.”

Do you have any special writing rituals or totems to connect with your muse?
No sacrificial rituals or anything magical. I usually do have to start out by revising what I’ve written the previous day, just to get warmed up and find my groove again.
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
That when I was in 7th grade I went to the National Spelling Bee and finished 15th. The word I missed was “syncretism,” which means the attempt to bring together different religious principles.

What are you working on now?
Another Shakespeare-related story, but a comedy rather than a tragedy. Time for me to lighten up a bit.
What is an interesting writing quirk of yours?
This isn’t a quirk so much as a habit, but I always have the Oxford English Dictionary open in a window (on my computer) when I write so that I can look up words and figure out when they came into the language and if it’s appropriate for my characters to use them.

If Cate of the Lost Colony were made into a movie, who would you like to see in the role of Cate? Manteo? Sir Walter?
Ah, the movie! Every author’s dream. For Sir Walter, I’d pick Clive Owen; for Manteo, Johnny Depp—he’s actually part Native American. (I’ll play Cate, thank you very much.) Actually, I’ll let my readers weigh in with their favorites, who are always more interesting (and probably younger) than my picks.

The Freebie:

To be entered to win the ARC of CATE AND THE LOST COLONY, leave a comment below, telling us why you want to read this book . This drawing will remain open until Wednesday, June 16... or possibly Thursday since I'll be on the road, taking my daughter out to college next week *sniff*. So if you don't see the winner post Wednesday, check back Thursday...

Bonus Freebie: A copy of the new Death By... bindup, THE DEATH BY BIKINI MYSTERIES, which includes the complete books DEATH BY BIKINI, DEATH BY LATTE and DEATH BY DENIM! To be entered to win this one, tweet or post about the book and contest on your FB, blog or whatever and let me know, either by leaving a comment below or by emailing to gerb @ lindagerber .com. The winner will be announced the same time as the winner of CATE AND THE LOST COLONY.

PLEASE NOTE: Be sure to check back. We've just recently had to reassign a winner because the name I drew had no contact information associated with it, and the person didn't ever check in to let me know their mailing information. I'm also afraid that with the tight deadlines and launch preparations coming up for me the rest of this year, I won't have time to hunt you down if you win and don't come forward to claim your prize. So - new rule: You must check in to claim your prize within three weeks of the announcement, or it goes back into the kitty. Deal?