Character Interview: Mary Shelly Black from In the Shadow of Balckbirds by Cat Winters

IBT: So, Mary Shelley, tell us a bit about yourself. I heard you are a budding scientist.
Mary Shelley: Yes, I love science. I’ve always been fond of picking things apart and exploring how they work. My mother was a doctor, so I’m lucky to have a father who’s accepting of my plans to attend a university after I’m done with high school (don’t laugh—some women ARE attending universities nowadays!). I’m just trying to figure out which field of science I want to study most…and I’m hoping the flu doesn’t start shutting down schools. There are some awful rumors saying closures might happen.
IBT: Life in 1918 seems pretty brutal, the War, the Spanish Influenza, and suspicion on anyone seeming “unpatriotic”. Can you tell me something fun about your life?
Mary Shelley: My father owns Black’s Groceries here in Portland, Oregon, and when I don’t have much schoolwork, I help him out on the weekends. Dad pays me a little and lets me snack on the candy we sell at the front counter, but I also enjoy being surrounded by all the smells of the store—the pickles, spices, sauerkraut (I know, that’s a German word, but “Liberty Cabbage” sounds so silly), coffee, sweets, fruits, and cheeses. Those are the scents of my childhood.
IBT: Every scientist will tell you that not everything can be explained. Can you really say, with absolute certainty, that ghosts or spirits are purely figments of the imagination?
Mary Shelley: No, I suppose I can’t say with absolute certainty that ghosts are purely figments of the imagination. HOWEVER…I refuse to say that I believe in ghosts and spirits until you show me convincing proof they exist. I can already guess what you’re going to say: you’ve seen photographs of “spirits.” Well, I know a certain photographer who claims to take pictures of his customers’ departed loved ones, and he’s full of bunkum. Fraudulent photos are not the proof I’d need to believe.
IBT: Is it better to have loved and lost, or never to have loved at all?
Mary Shelley: Well, I don’t know if I’m enough of an expert on love to talk about that subject. There is a boy—his name is Stephen Embers. We’ve been close since we were children, but he headed off to war last April. I don’t know, I suppose it is better to have loved and lost, but...umm…I really don’t want to think about losing anyone right now. Let’s talk about something else, please. 
IBT: What is your favorite thing about Stephen Embers?
Mary Shelley: His patience—with me and with his beautiful photographs (he is NOT the flimflamming spirit  photographer I was just telling you about; that’s his older brother). I sometimes have a hard time making friends with people my own age, but Stephen has always tolerated me and taken the time to get to know me as more than just the girl with the Monster Brain.
IBT: If you had an evil twin, what would he/she be like?

Mary Shelley: An evil scientist, of course. Someone who conducts diabolical experiments or abuses science for their own selfish means. I may have been named after the author Mary Shelley, but I am not like her character Dr. Frankenstein.  

Thanks Mary Shelley, best of luck in San Diego- something tells me you'll need it!

by Cat Winters
Available Now!
Find it on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads 
In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.


Sarah said...

I am a sucker for historical fiction. And when you throw in ghosts and the supernatural...it's a double whammy! Especially considering I thought up a story once of a girl who meets a ghost. I originally thought you had an interview with Mary Shelley for a second though! Lol.

perla said...

This book is so completely unique. It's so dark and twisted, and the end is to terribly tragic and leaves this stain in your brain.