Sep 3, 2012

Interview & Playlist with Adam McOmber

Hello, and welcome to Beauty and the Bookshelf!

I'm ecstatic to be a part of the blog tour for The White Forest, hosted by Itching for Books. Here you'll find some cool facts about The White Forest and its author Adam McOmber, as well as see his playlist for the book! If the text is yellow, it's probably a link, so click it; it may take you somewhere interesting! 

Grab some popcorn, because it's time to hear from Adam McOmber!

Welcome to the game of Life! So, what's your life like?  
I live in Chicago in a neighborhood that I love. I teach Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago where I’m also the Associate Editor of a literary magazine called Hotel AmerikaI’m a big film buff and a fan of comic books.

Tell us a little bit about the story of The White Forest.
The White Forest is set in the mid-nineteenth century and it tells the story of Jane Silverlake, a young woman who has been isolated at her father’s manor house for much of her life because she has a special gift.  Jane is able to perceive the “souls” of man-made objects, and in doing so, she’s able to see into another world that exists beyond our own. Jane is eventually drawn out of her isolation by her two new friends, Nathan and Maddy. Slowly, the girls fall in love with Nathan, and Nathan himself becomes increasingly interested in Jane’s abilities. Soon Nathan disappears, and Jane and Maddy must infiltrate a cult in Southwark to understand what has happened to their beloved.

The White Forest has cults, a hidden world, and what appears to be a mystery. How did you come up with such a story? 
I did a lot of research while working on The White Forest, but the initial concept seemed to come out of nowhere. When I was walking home from work one day about three years ago, an image appeared in my mind of a woman walking through an open meadow. She was wearing dark, nineteenth century clothing, and her head was lowered, so I couldn’t see her face. I could tell something had happened that had troubled her very much. I could also tell that she was dangerous. After that, I wanted to know everything about her, so I started writing. That woman became Jane Silverlake, the main character of The White Forest, and the rest of the story developed around that image.

As the synopsis says: "Jane has a secret--an unexplainable gift that allows her to see the souls of man-made objects." Usually, people see the souls of living things, and non-living things don't have souls. Where did you get this idea, and why did you decide to make it into a book?
There is some historical basis for this concept.  In the Victorian practice of “psychometry,” it was believed that a psychic medium could touch an object and understand something about its history and perhaps the history of its owner. The medium was said to “read” the energy field that surrounds the object.  There is also the ancient notion of “animism” where people believed that souls existed not only in human beings but in plants, animals and objects. In Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Fall of the House of Usher,” the concept of animism comes into play, and I’ve always been intrigued by that idea.

You're a Tribute in the Reader Games! Three fictional characters are your allies, and three are your enemies. Who are they?
Allies: Miss Havisham from Great Expectations, The Governess from The Turn of the Screw and Dracula

Enemies: For my enemy, I am imaging a bunch of characters from contemporary literary realism all fused together into a gigantic monster. I tend to think of literary realism as my enemy. Give me fantasy any day.
The man himself, Mr. Adam McOmber!
Now that The White Forest has been published, what do you see in your future? Is the book a stand alone, or will it have a sequel?
I would never rule out the idea of a sequel, but The White Forest is a complete tale, in and of itself. I am currently working on a new novel that I’m excited about. It’s set in the near future and has to do with Immersive Reality Games where players are able to escape their daily lives and delve into realms of history and fantasy.

You win an award for The White Forest. What's your acceptance speech?
I would thank my mother for giving me the time and resources to grow my imagination as a child. I think that was so important. She really allowed me to feel that the whole world of imaginative writing was open to me.

Is there anyone who you think could represent your characters in real life? 
I tend not to picture my characters as either people that I know or have seen in films. I would love to have Tim Burton, Guillermo del Toro or Sofia Coppola direct a film version of my novel though.

If you could collaborate with any writer to ever exist, who would it be? 

What's your writing process? (How do you start, what do you do when you get stuck, etc.)
I write every day. If I’m not teaching, I love to write in the morning after I go for a run. I will write until lunch, and then continue writing afterward. I don’t really have writer’s block or trouble coming up with ideas. If I ever feel even a twinge of that, I just force myself to keep typing and eventually something will come.

Ah, but there's more! Do you know what I love a lot besides reading? Music. It's a great inspiration, and hey--it sounds awesome. So it's only fitting that I share with you Adam's playlist from The White Forest. If you like what you hear and would like to own the music, please obtain it legally: musicians, like writers, need support, and purchasing their work helps them out. Thanks!

The White Forest Playlist
"Bad Romance" (Lady Gaga): Because at its heart, The White Forest is about a very bad romance.
"Everything Will Be Alright" (The Killers): Because we know the opposite is probably true.
"Go or Go Ahead" (Rufus Wainwright): “Thank you for the bitter knowledge/Guardian Angels who left me stranded/It was worth it feeling abandoned.”
"Destroy Everything You Touch" (Ladytron): For Jane.
"Lemonade" (Coco Rosie): Because the video feels like an off-kilter Victorian Fairy Tale.
"Everyday is like Sunday" (Morrissey): For its melancholy mood and lyrics.
"Someone Like You" (Adele): "Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead."
"If You're Feeling Sinister" (Belle and Sebastian): Because we all feel a little sinister sometimes.
"Never Let Me Go" (Florence and the Machine): For Jane again.
"The Song of Purple Summer" (Spring Awakening soundtrack): “And all shall fade/ the flowers of spring/ the world and all the sorrow/ at the heart of everything."

And last but not least, be sure to check out The White Forest, out September 11, 2012 from Touchstone!

The White Forest In the bestselling tradition of The Night Circus and Sarah Waters’s The Little Stranger, Adam McOmber’s hauntingly original debut novel follows a young woman in Victorian England whose peculiar abilities help her infiltrate a mysterious secret society.

Young Jane Silverlake lives with her father at a crumbling family estate on the edge of Hampstead Heath. Jane has a secret—an unexplainable gift that allows her to see the souls of manmade objects—and this talent isolates her from the outside world. Her greatest joy is wandering the wild heath with her neighbors, Madeline and Nathan. But as the friends come of age, their idyll is shattered by the feelings both girls develop for Nathan, and by Nathan’s interest in a cult led by Ariston Day, a charismatic mystic popular with London's elite. Day encourages his followers to explore dream manipulation, with the goal of discovering a new virtual reality, a place he calls the Empyrean.     

A year later, Nathan has vanished, and the famed Inspector Vidocq arrives in London to untangle the events that led up to Nathan’s disappearance. As a sinister truth emerges, Jane realizes she must discover the origins of her talent and use it to find Nathan herself, before it’s too late.    

Adam McOmber, whose short story collection This New and Poisonous Air earned glowing praise for its evocative prose, here reveals a gift for fantastical twists and dark turns that literary fans will relish. (Via Goodreads.)

Before you go, be sure to enter this super cool giveaway!

Thanks Itching for Books and Adam McOmber for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this tour!


  1. Wonderful interview and cool playlist.

    Thanks for participating.

  2. Great interview! All of your questions were really fun to read and the answers were great. My favorite one has got to be Who would your three allies and enemies be in The Reader Games =D

    Also great playlist ^^


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