What is the Small Spaces Quartet about?
The Small Spaces Quartet is a four-book series set in Vermont in the present day. The main
character is a smart, stubborn girl named Olivia Adler who, with her two friends, Brian and
Coco, survive the terrifying games and schemes of an ancient evil called the Smiling Man. The
four books in the series represent four seasons. Small Spaces is autumn, Dead Voices is winter,
Dark Waters is spring, and Empty Smiles is summer.
Where did you get the idea for the Small Spaces Quartet?
I got the idea for the Small Spaces Quarter on a bus trip to Boston. I was riding along alone in this bus, when this extremely heavy fog came down on the road. Being a writer, I started to wonder what would happen if our bus broke down and we were stuck by the side of the road. What if something jumped out of the woods to get us, I wondered. I wrote my idea down and when I got home, I started to play with this idea. It was autumn at the time, and my town at the time decorated the town green with scarecrows. I decided that walking scarecrows would be the creatures that jumped out of the mist in my book. I was also inspired by portal fantasies like The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, and The Wizard of Oz.
Which is your favorite character in the Small Spaces Quartet?
I love all my characters, but my favorite would have to be Coco Zintner.
When did you write the first book in the Small Spaces Quartet?
I started the novel Small Spaces in late 2017 and it was finished and published in 2018. The last
book in the series, Empty Smiles, came out in 2022
Are you going to write more Small Spaces books?
No, I don’t have plans for any more Small Spaces books. I wanted to do four books, set in four seasons, and I did that. The series is completely finished.
Are you going to write other books? Are you ever going to write a not-scary book?
Yes, I’d love to write more scary books. I have lots of ideas and I am eager to write them. Plenty of my book ideas aren’t scary, and I hope to write both scary and not-scary books for kids in the future.
How many books have you written?
I have written seven books in total. Four books for children and three for adults.
What are your hobbies?
I have lots of hobbies, including hiking, reading, growing flowers, and skiing.
What is your favorite color?
I have two favorite colors: green and blue.
What is the Winternight Trilogy about?
The Winternight Trilogy is set in historical Muscovy during the latter half of the fourteenth century. It follows the adventures of a young woman named Vasilisa Petrovna (Vasya) who has the ability to see and speak with the spirits of East Slavic folklore. It combines real history and historical characters with Slavic myths, legends, and folktales.
What was your first book? When did you write it?
My first book was The Bear and the Nightingale, the first book in the Winternight Trilogy. I began it in 2011, and it was published in 2017. The final book of the Winternight Trilogy, The Winter of the Witch, came out in 2019.
How did you get the idea for your first book?
I graduated from college in 2011 with plans to go to grad school for linguistics or interpretation. (I got my undergraduate degree in French and Russian) However, I decided to take six months off to work on a farm in Hawaii (first on the Big Island, then on Maui). While there, bored, I decided to begin a novel to entertain myself. I had always loved books based on fairy tales, but I had never read a book based on a Russian fairy tale. I had spent two years in Moscow, spoke Russian, and had read lots and lots of Russian fairy tales, so I picked my favorite fairy tale (the story of Morozko, or King Frost) and sort of trial and erred my way to my first book. Two more followed.
Can you talk a little about the historical underpinnings of the Winternight Trilogy?
The Kyivan Rus were conquered in the twelfth century by the descendants of Genghis Khan, when Kyiv was the center of East Slavic civilization and Moscow was a remote trading post. After two hundred years, the Mongols were still in charge, working with loyal princes to keep a thumb on the population, notably the princes of Moscow, who had grown powerful through collaboration with the invader. So powerful, in fact, that by the mid-fourteenth century, Dmitrii Ivanovich, Grand Prince of Moscow, was able to create alliances with the scattered princes of Rus’ to attempt to overthrow the golden horde and restore the East Slavs to self rule. This is a very basic summary of the historical environment that underpins the Winternight Trilogy.
Can you talk a little about the folklore behind the Winternight Trilogy?
The series draws on a wide variety of folk tales, and legends. Each of the three novels has a ‘main’ fairy tale that is retold within the text. ‘Morozko’ in book 1, ‘The Snow Maiden’ in book 2 and ‘Marya Morevna’ in book 3 plus many fairy tales that are alluded to or referenced. The books also feature a wide variety of folkloric characters including Slavic household spirits like the domovoi, bannik and vazila and wild forest guardians like the rusalka and leshy, plus more powerful characters like Lady Midnight (Polunochnitsa) and Morozko, the Winter king.
Are you writing more Winternight books?
I don’t think so. I’ve thought about what might happen next, but I was generally pleased with how the trilogy ended and am reluctant to reopen the question by adding to the story.
What is your next project? When will we be seeing it?
My next project is a speculative historical novel, standalone not a series. It is set during the last year of World War I. Titled The Warm Hands of Ghosts, it will be out in February 2024
What do you do when you’re not writing?
My favorite things are growing flowers (we also grow vegetables but I love flowers more) reading, hiking, and skiing.