Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Boy with the Hidden Name Blog Tour: Skylar Dorset Talks Research!

"Benedict Le Fay will betray you. And then he will die." 
Betrayal and death—not quite the prophecy Selkie wanted about her first love. A half-faerie princess with a price on her head, Selkie Stewart just wants a little normal in her life. Not another crazy prophecy. Besides, she and Ben are a team. They're the two most wanted individuals in the Otherworld, and fated to bring down the Seelie Fairie Court and put an end to their reign of terror. Nothing can come between them. 
Until Ben leaves. And the sun goes out. And the chiming bells deafen all of Boston. The Seelies are coming. And only Selkie can stop them from destroying the world.
The Boy with the Hidden Name was published in the US by Sourcebooks Fire on December 2nd 2014 and is a book I'm very excited to read. I loved the first novel in the series, The Girl Who Never Was, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens next!

Many thanks to Skylar for writing this post for me, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!


by Skylar Dorset

When I started writing the Otherworld books, I set them in Boston because it was where I was living and I knew the city well enough that I felt like I wouldn’t have to research. Me = lazy. I thought that all of my research would focus on faerie lore and mythology, and the city setting would just fill itself in. But I ended up doing research into a bunch of Boston-y things that made their way into the book!

For instance, William Blaxton was really the founder of Boston. Who knew, right? I lived in Boston for many years and never heard the man’s name. Why? Because, to the extent that he’s still remembered at all, it’s mostly in Rhode Island (where he fled after Boston got too crowded) and he’s mostly called William Blackstone. I was fascinated by the idea of this man who had become so lost to history that we couldn’t even decide on what his name was. I already had in my head the ancient idea of the power held in a name, and it fell into place for me: If Will Blaxton was a wizard, wouldn’t he have gone to a great deal of effort to keep his name as obscured in history as possible?

While touring Newburyport, a gorgeous little seaside town north of Boston, I stumbled upon the story of “Lord” Timothy Dexter, a rich merchant who really did write a book called A Pickle for the Knowing Ones in which all of the punctuation was at the end. He really did get upset with his wife for not displaying sufficient grief at his funeral. And he really was obsessed with statues, which he had littering the grounds of his estate. With real life like this, who needs to write fiction, right?

I read a history of Boston that discussed the importance of sewing circles to Boston society, and that’s where the idea of the Boston Sewing Circle in my book came in, especially because it meshed so nicely with traditional ideas about weavers of fate. Beacon Hill’s lavender windowpanes do exist, and have never been satisfactorily replicated. They were crying out for supernatural treatment. And the characters talk about the Witch and Ward Society, which was my perversion of Boston’s old Watch and Ward Society, whose job was to keep watch over the city’s culture (and they fretted a lot about the power of the wrong types of books).

All in all, I felt like everywhere I turned in Boston there was some little piece of history that seemed supernaturally suspicious, and I happily co-opted them for the books. I thought I wouldn’t learn much about Boston in the course of writing about the Otherworld, but I’m so glad I did!

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