Sophomore Spotlight: Cat Winters

I'm thrilled today to have Cat Winters on the blog chatting about her new book, The Cure for Dreaming. You probably know that I absolutely loved her debut, In the Shadow of Blackbirds, so to say I'm excited to help her spread the word about this new book is an understatement.

First, here's a bit about the book:
The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters.
Published: October 14, 2014.
Published by: Amulet Books.

Goodreads Synopsis:
Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout.
And now welcome Cat!

Jess: Can you Twitter Pitch The Cure for Dreaming (140 characters or less)?
Cat: In 1900 America, a man hires a young hypnotist to cure his daughter, a budding suffragist, of her rebellious thoughts and dreams.

J: What would you say are main character Olivia's best and worst traits? Would Olivia agree with your answer?
C: Olivia’s best traits are her compassion and her ability to grow stronger under difficult circumstances. Her worst trait is misjudging people and making assumptions based on appearances alone, which changes as she comes to view people’s true natures under hypnosis. By the end of the novel, she would likely agree that she was always too quick to evaluate people before getting to know them.

J: Interesting. I think that's something we've all been guilty of at some point or another, so that's definitely a relatable trait for her to have. 
Which character from TCfD other than Olivia are you most excited for readers to meet?
C: Henri Reverie, my young stage hypnotist. I won’t say too much about him so you can discover his secrets throughout the novel, but he appears in the first chapter as a dashing young performer with a French-Canadian accent who leaps out of a cloud of smoke on a stage. Olivia initially thinks he looks like the devil.

J: Oooh, I'm intrigued! And a French-Canadian accent, eh? Interesting choice! ;)
What was your favourite part of the book to write?
C: Even though I loved creating all of my atmospheric and emotional scenes, my favorite ones to write involved Olivia riding her bicycle through town. In turn-of-the-century America, as well as other parts of the Western World, women gained independence after the invention of the “safety bicycle,” with its two equal-sized wheels (as opposed to earlier bicycles with a giant wheel in front and a small one in back). Suddenly, females were able to ride around town without chaperones, getting exercise, feeling good about themselves. Olivia loves tooling around the streets of her hometown of Portland, Oregon, and I loved riding around with her. After focusing on such dark moments in both IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS and THE CURE FOR DREAMING, it felt so refreshing to allow one of my characters to soar through the air and simply enjoy herself. My absolute favorite scene in the novel is one in which she’s pedaling through town with a young man hanging on behind her. I feel it encapsulates the sheer joy of being young.

J: What was the strangest or most interesting thing you researched for TCfD?
C: I loved reading about the horrors of Victorian dentistry—the gags used to pry open patients' mouths, public laughing gas demonstrations, the use of leeches to relieve inflamed gums, etc. Olivia’s father is a dentist, and she worries he wants to extract her dreams from her head the same way he enjoys pulling teeth out of people’s mouths (see the excerpt below).

J: Ohhh my goodness. Horrors is right. Dentistry was so primitive back then in comparison to what we have now. And people today are scared of the dentists! 
How did the publication journey for TCfD differ from that of your debut, In the Shadow of Blackbirds?
C: THE CURE FOR DREAMING ended up being a more difficult novel to write, and Amulet Books actually took longer acquiring it than they did with IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS. The entire second half of the book kept changing. It started off dark, dark, dark, then it switched to something too light, and after my editor and I got through with it, we found a middle ground. I’m extremely proud of the results.

J: Did you change anything about your writing process for this novel after having written your debut?
C: This novel ended up being shorter than my debut, simply because I learned the skill of weeding out unnecessary parts. The original manuscript of IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS was a huge, overflowing mess that gradually got pared down. All of my books now seem to be shorter. I’ve learned how to stay focused on the main story at hand.

J: That's probably a good skill to have. Time-saving for you, at the very least. 
Can you share a favourite quote from TCfD?
C: “You actually hired this person”—I pointed toward the still-seated hypnotist—“to extract my thoughts in your operatory, as if my brain were a decayed thing, like Mr. Dibbs’s disgusting bicuspid? Do you know how cruel and horrifying this is?”

J: In keeping with our theme here, are there any sophomore novels you've loved recently or are looking forward to?
C: I’m really looking forward to reading Carrie Mesrobian’s PERFECTLY GOOD WHITE BOY. Her debut novel, SEX & VIOLENCE, blew me away. I feel it’s a book all writers should read when contemplating how to capture the elusive quality of “voice.”

J: You're not the first to mention that one here. Sounds like one that I should be picking up right away! 
Can you share a little bit about your next project(s)?
C: I’m thrilled to say that I have two novels and one anthology under contract, with publication dates in 2015 and 2016. Here’s a little bit about each of them.

THE UNINVITED (William Morrow/HarperCollins, Summer 2015): My adult novel debut marks my return to 1918 America, when the Spanish influenza and WWI disheveled lives. A young woman makes a break from her family’s home for the first time in her life after her father and brother murder a German-American in their small Illinois town. It’s also a ghost story.

SLASHER GIRLS & MONSTER BOYS (Dial/Penguin, Fall 2015): I have an as-of-yet undisclosed short story appearing in this YA horror anthology that also includes new fiction from April Genevieve Tucholke, A.G. Howard, Megan Shepherd, Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Carrie Ryan, Nova Ren Suma, Stefan Bachman, Jay Kristoff, Kendare Blake, and several others.

THE STEEP AND THORNY WAY (Amulet Books/Abrams, Spring 2016): My third YA novel is a HAMLET-inspired tale set in the backwoods of Oregon in 1923. A biracial girl deals with Prohibition, the KKK, and the murder of her father in a region of America that has turned “less than kind.” Another ghost story.

I’ll include updates and reveal covers at my website, http://www.catwinters.com.

Thank you so much for hosting me, Jessica!

J: So much to look forward too! How exciting! Thank you, Cat! 

About the author:
 Cat Winters was born and raised in Southern California, near Disneyland, which may explain her love of haunted mansions, bygone eras, and fantasylands. She received degrees in drama and English from the University of California, Irvine, and formerly worked in publishing.

Her critically acclaimed debut novel, In the Shadow of Blackbirds, was named a 2014 Morris Award Finalist, a School Library Journal Best Book of 2013, a 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults pick, and a 2013 Bram Stoker Award Nominee. Her upcoming books include The Cure for Dreaming (Amulet Books/October 2014), The Uninvited (William Morrow/Summer 2015), and The Steep and Thorny Way (Amulet Books/Spring 2016).

Cat lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two kids.  

Buy The Cure for Dreaming: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Chapters Indigo // IndieBound // The Book Depository
Or order a signed copy from Cat's local indie, Powell's!

Cat has very kindly offered up a copy of the new paperback of In the Shadow of Blackbirds (with the Morris Award finalist seal on it!) to one very lucky winner from the US or Canada! Trust me when I say you definitely want this book. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this feature and make sure to include some way for me to contact you (email address or Twitter handle, preferably). Enter by Wednesday, October 29th for your chance to win this fabulous book, and get out and buy The Cure for Dreaming!

Some Rules (aka the not so fun but important part):
~ This giveaway is open to residents of US and Canada only (void where prohibited).
~ No P.O. boxes.
~ Must be 13 or older to enter.
~ Winner will be chosen randomly and contacted. The winner has 48 hours to respond, otherwise they forfeit their prize and I will choose another winner, who must abide by the same rules.
~ Cat and I are not responsible for lost or damaged packages.
No cheating! In this case, I have the right to disqualify entries as I see fit.
~ By entering the giveaway, you are agreeing to these rules.

Good luck!


  1. Nnnyaaaaaaugh! I've heard such good things about BOTH books, and I've read neither! Bad reader, bad bad reader. :( This interview makes me even more eager to check out Ms. Winters' books. Thanks for the chance to win, Jess!

  2. I wanna read one of her books so bad! I cant believe I havent done it yet. Everyone says such great things about Cat and her books! My twitter is @conkydonk13 and my email is conkcleveland@gmail.com

  3. I won't have any trouble imagining the French Canadian accent because my father's family is French Canadian. Thank you both for this wonderful giveaway contest. :) My Twitter is @LaLaT0adst0ne (the Os are zeros).

  4. I have quickly become quick fascinated with both of Cat Wonger"s books. This one looks really good and perfect for Halloween. Thanks for this great giveaway *fingers crossed*

  5. This book sounds so good!!! I cannot wait to read it!
    Twitter @emandm2222
    Thank you!

  6. This sounds amazing!!! Cant wait to read! alilbitoffaith@gmail.com

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Wow, such interesting concepts! Can't wait to hopefully be able to explore them in all their glory!

  9. I've already read The Cure for Dreaming and loved it!

    Twitter: @kychick92

  10. This is so awesome i would love to win it
    Can i enter please?

  11. This book sounds awesome!

    Twitter: @aleigha02

  12. Looks good!
    Email: camdogyoung@gmail.com

  13. This has been on my to-read pile for awhile! Would love to get my hands on it and love seeing canadian work getting out there! Really hope to be able to read this soon as well as the cure for dreaming!

    1. My email is sydraej@gmail.com! Thanks for the amazing giveaway

  14. Oh I've wanted to read this book for so long! I've heard such amazing things about Cat Winters and reading her interview just makes me even more desperate to get my hands on one of her books. Thank you so much for this amazing giveaway my Twitter is CParker_56 and my Email is cparker1140@gmail.com feel free to contact me either way.


I'd love to hear what you think!