Postcard For Reader + TIME

Interview: Susan Dennard

If you haven't heard of Susan Dennard's Something Strange and Deadly, you need to update your Goodreads lists! This piece of historical paranormal fiction sounds absolutely brilliant, looks absolutely gorgeous - and the absolutely wonderful author Susan Dennard is back at WORD today to talk about it!

The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia...

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

Nicole: The cover of Something Strange and Deadly is gorgeous! What do you think of the girls-in-pretty-dresses (and-sometimes-dead) trend as a whole, though?
Susan Dennard: To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the pretty dress covers… EXCEPT, they always, without fail, attract my eye to the shelves! So, in that sense, I think the design and marketing teams really know what they’re doing! The SS&D cover as well as the book 2 cover are just soooooo eye-catching and visually stunning. But, like I said, at the end of the day, I’m a pretty casual, non-dressy kinda gal. I think I actually prefer iconic covers that can be a bit more gender neutral.

N: How did you come up with the concept for Something Strange and Deadly?
SD: It sounds so lame, but the basic premise started with a dream. I dreamt my brother was missing and the only people who could help me were a group of highly skilled but also highly outcast teens. The dream haunted me for days, so I finally sat down and found a setting for the setting—1876 Philadelphia. Then I wrote a rough outline and bam! The story was born.

N: What's your favorite line from the story? (Spoiler free, of course - would hate to ruin the tension!)

“Biddable? Biddable!” Somehow my pitch was even screechier than before. I kicked my bottom high and dipped my chest low—a perfect display of the Grecian bend. “If it’s a camel you wish to have, sir, then you are on the wrong continent!”

N: I just bumped this up on my to be read list. I need to know the context! What other books are you looking forward to reading this season?
SD: I cannot wait for Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick. The first book in the trilogy — Ashes — just blew my mind away. I have to know what happens next! It ended on such a terrifying cliff-hanger.

N: If you could shapeshift into any animal, what animal would it be?
SD: A dolphin!!! My dream has always, always been to be able to explore the oceans uninhibited. Plus, I’ve never seen a more joyous animal in the wild.

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