Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Interview with Theodora Goss and Giveaway - January 24, 2012

Please welcome Theodora Goss to The Qwillery. The Thorn and the Blossom was published by Quirk Books on January 17, 2012. 

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Theodora:  I'm not sure this is a quirk, but I tend to use very specific things to write: notebooks from Bob Slate Stationer in Harvard Square, specific kinds of pens. I also use a word processing program that almost no one uses anymore: Word Perfect. But it does exactly what I want it to. Wait -- I tend to think of things to write in the shower, and then sometimes I have to run and get a notebook and pen, wrapped in a towel, with dripping hair. I don't know if that's quirky. It's certainly messy!

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Theodora:  I tend to be both. I'll usually have a sense of where the plot is going, and if a plot is intricate, I'll need to write it out. But often, I just sit there and sort of go. I let the story and the characters guide me. Of course, that often means I have to go back and revise, so plotting ahead of time is probably more efficient. But it really depends on where I am in the story, and where the story is going. If it is going -- if my hand keeps moving across the page (I write first drafts longhand) -- I don't stop to plot things out. When I can't write anymore, when the details are too tangled in my head, that's when I need to stop and untangle the plot.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Theodora:  Finding the time! I teach writing and literature at Boston University, and until recently I was also finishing a PhD in English literature. So I have to fit writing in where I can. Often I'll write at night or on the weekends, when everything is quiet and no one can disturb me. I need that intense focus . . .

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Thorn and the Blossom?

Theodora:  The initial inspiration came from my editor, Stephen Segal, who asked me to write a book in an accordion format. I was so intrigued by the idea that I started working on it right away. I knew it had to be a love story -- that's the sort of story in which seeing events from two different perspectives matters the most. And Brendan and Evelyn came to me shortly after that. Once I had the characters, they started talking to me, telling me their stories -- that's the way it usually happens. The format inspired me, and the story of the Green Knight, the mythical background of the story, inspired me. But finally, it was the characters and the story they had to tell.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Thorn and the Blossom?

Theodora:  I like the scene in the forest! That's *one* of my favorite scenes, at any rate, and it was actually the first one I wrote, part of the proposal I sent my editor. It was interesting writing it twice, from two different perspectives, because Brendan and Evelyn experience it in very different ways. And they have different emotional reactions to it.

TQ:  In The Thorn and the Blossom, who was the most difficult character to write and why? The easiest and why?

Theodora:  Brendan was easier to write, but I'm not sure why. Perhaps because he's more reasonable, more sensible, at least for most of the story. Evelyn is more complicated in some ways -- she's more damaged, for one thing. More afraid. I remember my editor telling me that she needed to be more sympathetic. And we did work on that, but in the end, I wanted her to be herself, whether she was sympathetic or not. I wanted her to be Evelyn.

TQ:  What's next?

Theodora:  I always seem to have stories coming out. In 2012, I have a story called "Woola's Song" coming out in Under the Moons of Mars, an anthology of stories about Edgar Rice Burroughs' world of Barsoom. "Lessons with Miss Gray" will be in an anthology called Witches: Wicked, Wild and Wonderful, "The Mad Scientist's Daughter" will be in The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination, and "Beautiful Boys" will be in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. I'm also working on a poetry collection that will probably come out next summer. The big project now is a novel based on "The Mad Scientist's Daughter" about the daughters of all the mad scientists: Justine Frankenstein, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, Mary Jekyll, and Diana Hyde. They get together in London and form a club!

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery

Theodora:  Thank you! It's been a pleasure.

About The Thorn and the Blossom

The Thorn and the Blossom
Quirk Books (January 17, 2012)
Slip-cased Hardcover, 82 pages

One enchanting romance. Two lovers keeping secrets. And a uniquely crafted book that binds their stories forever.

When Evelyn Morgan walked into the village bookstore, she didn’t know she would meet the love of her life. When Brendan Thorne handed her a medieval romance, he didn’t know it would change the course of his future. It was almost as if they were the cursed lovers in the old book itself...

The Thorn and the Blossom is a remarkable literary artifact: You can open the book in either direction to decide whether you’ll first read Brendan’s, or Evelyn’s account of the mysterious love affair. Choose a side, read it like a regular novel—and when you get to the end, you’ll find yourself at a whole new beginning.

Read The Qwillery's 5 Qwill review of The Thorn and the Blossom here.

About Theodora

Theodora Goss was born in Hungary and spent her childhood in various European countries before her family moved to the United States. Although she grew up on the classics of English literature, her writing has been influenced by an Eastern European literary tradition in which the boundaries between realism and the fantastic are often ambiguous. Her publications include the short story collection In the Forest of Forgetting (2006); Interfictions (2007), a short story anthology coedited with Delia Sherman; and Voices from Fairyland (2008), a poetry anthology with critical essays and a selection of her own poems. She has been a finalist for the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, and Mythopoeic Awards, as well as on the Tiptree Award Honor List, and has won the World Fantasy and Rhysling Awards.

Theodora's Links:


The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win a copy of The Thorn and the Blossom from Quirk Books. US/Canada Only.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

Which unresolved love story or stories would you like to see have a happy ending(s)? 

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday, January 31, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*


  1. I'm not sure I can answer this question. My first instinct is to go with Romeo and Juliet...but would we even really remember this love story without the tragedy at the end? I'm not sure it would transcend the centuries like it did if the love story had been a happy ending. I'll stick with that answer...but with reservation lol
    +1 comment
    +1 GFC: Vivien

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  2. I'm afraid of reading the comments here in case of spoilage but I wish The Thorn Birds had a happy ending.

    GFC follower

  3. oh that is a tricky one, I would have to say Wuthering Heights let them have love before ghosthood together.

    +gfc Teril

    terilhack at gmail dot com

  4. Seriously for me it was Titanic the movie, that old lady only wanted a little DiCaprio, the movie should have let them grow old together hand in hand.


    kasuranna at yahoo dot com

  5. I love happy endings. I have not read many stories that did not have a good ending. I would have to say Wuthering Heights. I hated the ending of that book. I wish Heathcliff would have got to be with her in the end.
    I would also say another would be Raeliksen by Renee Vincent. One of the characters dies and I cried. I would also say Message in a Bottle. That was a great book, but one of the main characters also dies.
    Thanks for the chance to win.
    Would love to win and read this book.
    GFC follower: Chris Bails

  6. I would have preferred Bloodrose ended differently (by Andrea Cremer), but I did understand why the author ended it that way. edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom
    GFC Krystal Larson

  7. Romeo and Juliette would be better if ended with a happily ever after,
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  8. This book has piqued my interest! I am finding many new to me authors on here. I also must have been in a cave somewhere, lol. I have never heard a book written like this and am anxious to read it!

    My answer to the question would be Tristan and Isolde. What a very bittersweet story.

  9. I wish Romeo and Juliet would have had a happy ending or Gone with the Wind. Please enter me in contest. I am a follower and email subscriber. I would love to read this book. Tore923@aol.com

  10. I think I would've like to have seen Romeo and Juliet have a happy ending. I mean it's great that loved each other to the end and were willing to go to great lengths to be with each other and couldn't live without each other, but it was exactly a happy time.

    Love the concept for The Thorn and the Blossom... will definitely be reading it!

    +1 Comment
    +1 Follower of The Qwillery
    +1 Tweeted:


  11. Oh, that's a HARD question. I had to really think about it and look at my book shelf for a little while. Then I ran across Message In A Bottle by Nicholas Sparks. That book made me cry...so did the movie. Totally unnecessary! I would have liked that book/movie to have ended differently...for sure!


  12. Romeo and Juliet

    Thanks for the giveaway.

    + 1 comment
    + 1 follower


  13. I would say Salander and Blomquist in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" series. At the end of the series you really don't know where they stand...it seems to me like they are just friends, but I'd like to think that maybe they have a happier romantic ending. The books are not romances, but I am curious as to what the author (who sadly is deceased) felt about the ending to their story and if he thinks they were together or not.


  14. Which unresolved love story would I like to have a happy ending? Louise and Abel's romance (or lack thereof) in the book, "The Romantic" by Barbara Gowdy.

    I would love it if Abel could give himself over to Louise completely...and that he actually doesn't have to be such a broken character to only be left to die at the end of the book!

    Thanks for a chance at winning this giveaway. I'm always for reading a book more than once!

    On Twitter: @ZaraAlexis

  15. Oh, sorry. Forgot to mention my extra entries:

    1) I follow Qwillery via email subscription
    2) I tweeted about the giveaway (@ZaraAlexis)


  16. I'm embarrassed to say it, but the answer that comes to mind is Gone with the Wind. I really wanted Rhett to keep giving a damn, even if Scarlett didn't deserve it.

  17. First I have to say that the premise of this book is fascinating. And couldn't be done properly on an eReader! Congrats on creating a unique book.
    Not particularly original, but Romeo and Juliet were the first couple to come to mind. It would have been nice to see the lovers tell their families to shove it and get their HEA!

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC as MJB
    +1 Tweet:

    msmjb65 AT gmail DOT com

  18. I'm a sucker for happy endings, so the only one I remember is Romeo and Juliet.

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC follower: Brenda Demko