Mundie Moms

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

In The Shadow of Blackbirds Blog Tour: Guest Post With Author Cat Winters

Welcome to today's In The Shadow of Blackbirds tour stop! I'm thrilled to have Cat Winters on the blog today to talk about her newest release, but first, here's a little bit about her book, which is OUT TODAY!!!

In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

by Cat Winters

“I think between the war and the flu, no one’s going to escape getting haunted. We live in a world so horrifying, it frightens even the dead.”


Today marks the debut of my first novel, IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS, a YA ghost tale that takes place during the World War I era. I’m thrilled and honored to be celebrating the book’s release right here on Mundie Moms!

Paranormal romance fans: Yes, IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS does indeed contain a love story, an intense one involving a bright and compassionate sixteen-year-old girl and the young soldier who literally and figuratively haunts her.

Hesitant readers of paranormal teen fiction: This is not a typical ghost story. The novel contains surprises and twists for everyone. Do not be frightened by the paranormal YA label.

In 1918, when the book takes place, the world was slammed by the horrors of both WWI and a deadly strain of the flu known as the Spanish influenza. The average life expectancy age dropped to thirty-nine. To appease their grief, desperate mourners turned to séances (a craze that started in Victorian America) and spirit photographers—people who invited customers into their studios, had them sit for a portrait, and in the developed photo, the spirits of departed loved ones would emerge, posing with their mortal relatives.

Creepy? Definitely. Yet the practice was popular in the early 1900s. Grief was intense and knowledge of trick photography limited.

Some of the central questions IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS asks are “How far would you go to find proof of the afterlife when you’re immersed in grief?” and “What would it take to get you to believe in ghosts if you’re a skeptic?” To us modern readers living in a world of Photoshopped images and CGI movies, these early examples of altered photos look crude and phony and would doubtfully make us believers. Most of the time, the ghosts were created using paper cutouts or double exposures involving someone standing under a sheet. The spirit photograph on the IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS cover was created using the latter technique and closely resembles the historical “ghosts.”

I honestly don’t believe that any of those early spirit photographers were the real deal, although some of them may have convinced themselves they were truly gifted with the talent of capturing ghosts. Perhaps grief played games with their own minds. I certainly can’t criticize the victims of early-twentieth-century photo scams. The people posing for such photos may seem gullible and foolish to us, but it’s unfair to judge them if we aren’t living in an era with an average life expectancy of thirty-nine.

You’ll find actual examples of early-twentieth-century spirit photography in the pages of IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS, as well as other images from the time period. The photos are sad, strange, and surreal, and interestingly enough, the ones that seem to haunt readers the most are the real-life pictures involving the war and the flu, not the ghosts.

To view online spirit photo galleries, please visit The American Museum of Photography and the Science & Society Picture Library.

Thank you to Cat for stopping by Mundie Moms today!

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 debut novel, In the Shadow of Blackbirdsa YA ghost tale set during the World War I era—is coming April 2, 2013, from Amulet Books/ABRAMS. She currently lives outside of Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two kids.

Visit Cat via her: Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads

About the Book:

By: Cat Winters
Published by: Amulet Books
Released on: April 2nd, 2013
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. You have no idea how excited I am for this book! Thank you for the giveaway and I can't wait to read this!

  2. Yes I have heard of it and have been dying for a copy!

  3. Yes, I've heard of it. It sounds like something I would read.