Mundie Moms

Monday, July 9, 2012

Shadow of Night Blog Tour: Q & A with author Deborah Harkness & a Giveaway

I am thrilled to be apart of Penguin's blog tour Deborah Harkness's Shadow of Night, the sequel to the highly acclaimed book, A Discovery of Witches. Over the next two days I'll be featuring both books on my blog, and today I'm honored to have Deborah Harkness on Mundie Moms.


(questions provided by Penguin)

Q: A Discovery of Witches debuted at # 2 on the New York Times bestseller list with publications following in 37 countries.  What has been your reaction to the outpouring of love for A Discovery of Witches? Was it surprising how taken fans were with Diana and Matthew’s story?

A. It has been amazing—and a bit overwhelming. I was surprised by how quickly readers embraced two central characters who challenge our typical notion of what a heroine or hero should be. And I continue to be amazed whenever a new reader pops up, whether one in the US or somewhere like Finland or Japan—to tell me how much they enjoyed being caught up in Diana’s world.

Q:  Last summer, Warner Brothers acquired screen rights to the trilogy, and David Auburn, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning writer of Proof, has been tapped to pen the screenplay. Are you looking forward to your novels being portrayed on the big screen?  What are your favorite casting ideas that you’ve heard from friends and readers?

A. I was thrilled when Warner Brothers wanted to translate the All Souls trilogy from book to screen. At first I was reluctant about the whole idea of a movie, and it actually took me nearly two years to agree to let someone try. The team at Warner Brothers impressed me with their seriousness about the project and their commitment to the characters and story I was trying to tell. Their decision to go with David Auburn confirmed that my faith in them was not misplaced. As for the casting, I deliberately don’t say anything about that! I would hate for any actor or actress to be cast in one of these roles and feel that they didn’t have my total support. I will say, however, that many of my readers’ ideas involve actors who have already played a vampire and I would be very surprised if one of them were asked to be Matthew!

Q: SHADOW OF NIGHT opens on a scene in 1590s Elizabethan England featuring the famous School of Night, a group of historical figures believed to be friends, including Sir Walter Raleigh and playwright Christopher Marlowe.  Why did you choose to feature these individuals, and can we expect Diana and Matthew to meet other famous figures from the past?  

A. I wrote my master’s thesis on the imagery surrounding Elizabeth I during the last two decades of her reign. One of my main sources was the poem The Shadow of Night by George Chapman—a member of this circle of fascinating men—and that work is dedicated to a mysterious poet named Matthew Roydon about whom we know very little. When I was first thinking about how vampires moved in the world (and this was way back in the autumn of 2008 when I was just beginning A Discovery of Witches) I remembered Roydon and thought “that is the kind of identity a vampire would have, surrounded by interesting people but not the center of the action.” From that moment on I knew the second part of Diana and Matthew’s story would take place among the School of Night. And from a character standpoint, Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlowe, George Chapman, and the other men associated with the group are irresistible. They were such significant, colorful presences in Elizabethan England.

Q: In SHADOW OF NIGHT, we learn more about the alchemical bonds between Diana and Matthew.   In your day job, you are a professor of history and science at the University of Southern California and have focused on alchemy in your research.  What aspects of this intersection between science and magic do you hope readers will pick up on while reading SHADOW OF NIGHT?

A. Whereas A Discovery of Witches focused on the literature and symbolism of alchemy, in Shadow of Night I’m able to explore some of the hands-on aspects of this ancient tradition. There is still plenty of symbolism for Diana to think about, but in this volume we go from abstractions and ideals to real transformation and change—which was always my intention with the series. Just as we get to know more about how Elizabethan men and women undertook alchemical experiments, we also get to see Matthew and Diana’s relationship undergo the metamorphosis from new love to something more.

Q: SHADOW OF NIGHT spans the globe, with London, France, and Prague as some of the locales. Did you travel to these destinations for your research?  

A. I did. My historical research has been based in London for some time now, so I’ve spent long stretches of time living in the City of London—the oldest part of the metropolis—but I had never been to the Auvergne or Prague. I visited both places while writing the book, and in both cases it was a bit like traveling in time to walk village lanes, old pilgrim roads, and twisting city streets while imagining Diana and Matthew at my side.
Q: Did you have an idea or an outline for SHADOW OF NIGHT when you were writing A Discovery of Witches?  Did the direction change once you sat down to write it?

A. I didn’t outline either book in the traditional sense. In both cases I knew what some of the high points were and how the plot moved towards the conclusion, but there were some significant changes during the revision process. This was especially true for SHADOW OF NIGHT, although most of those changes involved moving specific pieces of the plot forward or back to improve the momentum and flow.

Q: A Discovery of Witches begins with Diana Bishop stumbling across a lost, enchanted manuscript called Ashmole 782 in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, whose secrets Diana and Matthew are still trying to uncover in SHADOW OF NIGHT. You had a similar experience while you were completing your dissertation.  What was the story behind your discovery?  And how did it inspire the creation of these novels?

A. I did discover a manuscript—not an enchanted one, alas—in the Bodleian Library. It was a manuscript owned by Queen Elizabeth’s astrologer, the mathematician and alchemist John Dee. In the 1570s and 1580s he became interested in using a crystal ball to talk to angels. The angels gave him all kinds of instructions on how to manage his life at home, his work—they even told him to pack up his family and belongings and go to far-away Poland and Prague. In the conversations, Dee asked the angels about a mysterious book in his library called “the Book of Soyga” or “Aldaraia.” No one had ever been able to find it, even though many of Dee’s other books survive in libraries throughout the world. In the summer of 1994 I was spending time in Oxford between finishing my doctorate and starting my first job. It was a wonderfully creative time, since I had no deadlines to worry about and my dissertation on Dee’s angel conversations was complete. As with most discoveries, this discovery of a “lost” manuscript was entirely accidental. I was looking for something else in the Bodleian’s catalogue and in the upper corner of the page was a reference to a book called “Aldaraia.” I knew it couldn’t be Dee’s book, but I called it up anyway. And it turned out it WAS the book (or at least a copy of it). With the help of the Bodleian’s Keeper of Rare Books, I located another copy in the British Library.

Q: Are there other lost books like this in the world?

A. Absolutely! Entire books have been written about famous lost volumes—including works by Plato, Aristotle, and Shakespeare to name just a few. Libraries are full of such treasures, some of them unrecognized and others simply misfiled or mislabeled. And we find lost books outside of libraries, too. In January 2006, a completely unknown manuscript belonging to one of the 17th century’s most prominent scientists, Robert Hooke, was discovered when someone was having the contents of their house valued for auction. The manuscript included minutes of early Royal Society meetings that we presumed were lost forever.

Q: Unlike Twilight’s Bella and Edward—hormonal teenagers who meet in the halls of a high school—your leading characters Matthew and Diana are established academics who meet in the library of one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world.  This is a world where vampires and witches drink wine together, practice yoga and discuss philosophy.   Are these characters based on something you found missing in the fantasy genre?

A. There are a lot of adults reading young adult books, and for good reason. Authors who specialize in the young adult market are writing original, compelling stories that can make even the most cynical grownups believe in magic. In writing A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, I wanted to give adult readers a world no less magical, no less surprising and delightful, but one that included grown-up concerns and activities. These are not your children’s vampires and witches.


Thank you to Penguin and Deborah for making today's stop possible.

To learn more about the series, please visit Deborah's website. Follow her on Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

About the book:
Shadow of Night picks up right where A Discovery of Witches left off.  Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont, a witch historian and vampire geneticist respectively, have timewalked to Elizabethan England on their hunt for a magical alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782—its sudden appearance and sudden disappearance have upended the delicately ordered world of magical creatures (witches, vampires, and daemons), threatening to unleash unprecedented metaphysical chaos. 

Though Diana and Matthew have escaped the threats of the present, they soon find the past holds its own challenges—Diana must find a witch to continue her magical education, a task made difficult by a rash of witch hunts across the British Isles.  And Matthew finds himself back in a life he thought he left behind, reuniting with friends and family that had long been reduced to memory, opening wounds he thought had healed.  Some of those friends comprise the infamous School of Night, a coterie of visionaries that includes Christopher Marlowe and Sir Walter Raleigh.  Together, Matthew and Diana must navigate the new dangers of an old century—bringing them closer and closer to solving the mystery of Ashmole 782.

About the Author:

Deborah Harkness is a professor of history at the University of Southern California.  Her publications include works on the history of science, magic, and alchemy.  Her most recent scholarly book is The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution.  She has received fellowships from the Fulbright Association, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Humanities Center, and the American Council of Learned Societies, among others.  She is also a noted wine critic and blogger. A Discovery of Witches was her fiction debut.

This summer, Viking will publish Shadow of Night (On-sale: July 10, 2012; $28.95), the highly-anticipated second installment of the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. Shadow of Night is the sequel to A Discovery of Witches, which People magazine called “A wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy with all the magic of Harry Potter or Twilight”—it debuted at #2 on The New York Times bestseller list and became an international phenomenon with major publications following in 37 countries.  

Last summer Warner Brothers acquired screen rights to A Discovery of Witches and its sequels and David Auburn, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning writer of Proof, has been tapped to pen the screenplay.  In total, over 300,000 copies have been sold making A Discovery of Witches the “it” book of early 2011, leaving legions of fans eagerly awaiting its sequel, Shadow of Night.

The Giveaway:
Thank you Penguin/Viking, I have a specially designed “Ashmole 782” temporary tattoo and a set of 6 buttons along with a finished copy of Shadow of Night I'm giving away to 1 lucky winner! The buttons each display a different alchemical symbol; readers will discover their meaning as they read the new novel.  You can find images of these tattoos and buttons to post here and here

- To Enter: please fill out the form below. US residents only and you must be 16 yrs & older to enter. 


  1. I enjoyed A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES and am anxiously awaiting the release of SHADOW OF's release date is my anniversary and DH has already promised me a copy..


  2. I can't say enough about these books! Once you start you can not put them down! Thanks for sharing a great interview!

  3. I'm so bloody excited for the sequel!!! You have no idea :)

  4. I have A Discovery of Witches sitting on my shelf & I really need to read it! This series sounds so good!

  5. Great interview, I am so excited for the book coming out tomorrow!

  6. I really nead to read A discovery of witches....and this one sounds great too

  7. I've read lots of positive reviews about this series! (commenting as Justine)

  8. Great interview! I need to do a re-read of A Discovery of Witches before I get Shadow of Night!

  9. I cant wait to read this one!!

  10. wow I want to read both books

  11. Awesome giveaway! I have been wanting to read this book! :)

  12. I have been wanting to read this for a while Thanks for an awesome giveaway

  13. This interview makes me even MORE excited to read the book!

  14. Thanks for a great interview! I am soooo excited for this book! I can't even tell you!!!! Congrats on an awesome series and I hope to read more of you!!!

  15. Great interview, can't wait to get my hands on this book!!!

  16. Thanks for the interview and for offering a copy of Shadow of Night. Like most readers I can't wait to see what's going to happen.

  17. Eek! I'm dying to read Shadow of Night. A Discovery of Witches was awesome.

  18. I have heard so many wonderful things about A Discover Of Witches. I own it but I need to get around to reading it!

  19. Thanks for the chance to win!

  20. I really enjoyed book one so I can't wait to see what happens next.

  21. sounds interesting! Looking forward to reading it

  22. I loved Discovery of Witches!

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  23. Just started A Discovery of Witches and loving it so far!! Thanks so much for the sequel giveaway!


  24. I am currently starting off A Discovery of Witches. It seems pretty good so far.

  25. i'm reading discovery of witches, and i'm enjoying it! Thanks for the giveaway!

  26. I am starting Part 3 and I am loving this book.

  27. I love that while this is considered a YA read you are still considering the adults who enjoy this genre and are not "dumbing down" the writing. I think the young adults to read these books appreciate it as well, as this audience is definitely more interested in a well written book that does not make them feel juvenile. Thank you for taking the time and effort to share with us :) I would love to read Shadow of Night.

  28. I love these books discovery of witches was the best thing ive read all year!

  29. I absolutely love these books! The history is interesting, the love story is sweet, and the writing is fabulous. These books pull you in and don't let go. Love them!

  30. I absolutely love these books! The history is interesting, the love story is sweet, and the writing is fabulous. These books pull you in and don't let go. Love them!

  31. Very nice interview. I haven't read this series yet, but would like to.