I’m super excited to have the wonderful Kate Ormand on my blog today to talk a bit about her forthcoming release, THE WANDERERS, which hits shelves September 1. I was fortunate enough to get an ARC of this beauty earlier this year, and I’m going to give it away to one lucky reader. I’m also sweetening the pot and giving away a signed copy of your choice of STOLEN SONGBIRD or HIDDEN HUNTRESS, because more prizes are always good! (link at bottom of post)
Book description: Flo lives an eccentric life—she travels with a popular circus in which the main acts star orphaned children with secret shape-shifting abilities. Once Flo turns sixteen, she must perform, but she’s not ready. While practicing jumping a flaming hurdle in a clearing beside the circus, she spots a dark figure in the trees and fears he saw her shift. The news sends the circus into a panic.
In Flo’s world, shifters are unknown to humans with the exception of a secret organization—the EOS, referred to as “hunters.” Hunters capture and kill. They send some shifters to labs for observation and testing—testing they don’t often survive—and deem others useless, a danger to society, and eliminate them. To avoid discovery, shifters travel in packs, constantly moving and keeping themselves hidden. Up until now, the circus was the perfect disguise.
Believing she has brought attention to the group, Flo feels dread and anxiety, causing her to make a mistake during her performance in front of the audience—a mistake that triggers a violent attack from the hunters.
Flo manages to flee the torched circus grounds with Jett, the bear shifter who loves her; the annoying elephant triplets; and a bratty tiger named Pru. Together they begin a new journey, alone in a world they don’t understand and don’t know how to navigate. On the run, they unravel secrets and lies that surround the circus and their lives—secrets and lies that all point to the unthinkable: Have they been betrayed by the people they trusted most?
Your protagonist, Flo, is a shape-shifter, and her animal form is a bit different from those typically found in fiction in that she turns into a horse. In my experience, authors typically choose a predator form for their main character, but you went a different direction. Why is that?
Flo was one of the last shapes I decided on. I had her human side clear in my mind but it took a while for me to discover what animal she was. The horse came to me more than I came to it. Horses are powerful animals but not in an obvious way such as a lion or a bear. I liked that she wasn’t ferocious when she shifted, and that she could be deadly with something other than teeth and claws.
Circuses are interesting places. On one hand, they are fun events to take children to be entertained. On the other hand, they have dark reputations, especially when it comes to the treatment of animals. Can you talk a bit about how you used that reputation in The Wanderers?
I didn’t want to glamourize the circus and the use of animals for entertainment, and Flo’s circus is not a particularly nice place. I wanted to draw attention to its wrongness in subtle ways, and louder ones like the protests outside camp. Even though the members are humans that shift into animals to perform, therefore not kept in cages, they still have little choice in the matter (whether they know it or not).
The setting of The Wanderers feels like modern or pseudo-modern England, but there aren’t many details that ground the story in our world. Which made me wonder if it was actually an alternate world fantasy. What made you decide to go with an ambiguous setting?
More a personal decision that I don’t like to specify too much or to set in real locations, but like to pull from various places. It is set in our world but the settings within — Violet Bay, Newlake Park, the old mountain village — are fictional, though some are based on places I’ve been to, or at least details are.
There is quite a diverse cast, with many different animal forms. Did you choose the animal form to fit the personality of the character or the other way around?
It varied. Initially the animal fit the character, but then things started to change as the characters became more connected to that animal in my mind. The animal-human pairings was one of the things I enjoyed most about writing the book.
Stage fright is a fairly important part of the plot. Were you drawing from personal experience?
I did sing when I was in high school — whether solo or duet or in the chorus, I’d get really nervous right before. I’d dread things a little in the days leading up, but then it’d really hit me just before stepping out, which is what happens to Flo. I’d talk myself around and calm down and afterward I’d feel such a sense of achievement, which again reflects in Flo’s behaviour. To relate on more current experiences, my nerves are a bit wobbly before author events too. I didn’t realise quite how much I’d pulled from that until you asked this question!
I got the feeling at the end of The Wanderers that there was more to the story. What are your plans for a sequel?
I’m not quite ready to let go of this world and these characters, so here’s hoping. *seals lips and throws away the key*
I know you’re a prolific reader – what novel releases are you most looking forward to for the rest of 2015?
Part-psychological thriller, part-urban legend, THE DEAD HOUSE by Dawn Kurtagich sounds spectacular. Spooky, twisty mystery HOTEL RUBY by Suzanne Young — “Stay tonight. Stay forever.” Reincarnation romance, THE NEXT TOGETHER by Lauren James, where the two main characters are brought back together throughout history.
And can I sneak into 2016 and say with rivalling families, forbidden romance, and the return of five v attractive brothers, INFERNO by Catherine Doyle. And, of course, a return to Cécile and Tristan’s story with WITCH WARRIOR by … you!
Kate Ormand is YA author of DARK DAYS and THE WANDERERS. She lives in the UK with her family, her partner, and a cocker spaniel called Freddie. She graduated from university with a first class degree in Fine Art Painting. It was during this course that Kate discovered her love of reading YA books, prompting her to try a new creative angle and experiment with writing. Kate is also member and co-creator of an online group of published writers and illustrators called Author Allsorts. And she writes children’s picture books under the name Kate Louise. Kate is represented by Isabel Atherton at Creative Authors Ltd. You can see more about Kate and her writing by visiting her website (www.kateormand.wordpress.com) or on Twitter (@kateormand).