Thursday, October 2, 2014

YA Horror/Thriller Spooktacular Day 2 - The Cabinet of Curiosities

It's only the 2nd day of October but the interview for the day features 4 authors!  Who are you they ask?  Well they are the fabulous middle grade short-story writers The Cabinet of Curiosities who recently published an anthology of the same title.  The Cabinet, made up of four authors (Stefan Bachmann, Katherine Catmull, Claire Legrand, and Emma Trevayne) publish original short stories on their website and earlier this year Greenwillow, an imprint of HarperCollins, published 36 of these stories in a paperback collection for all to enjoy.  So for today I present to you the curators of The Cabinet of Curiosities!

Peace, Love, Teen Fiction:  Usually I ask for a description of the book in 10 words or less but I don’t think that will work in this case, so instead if you could give us the name of your favorite story and then describe it in no more than 7 words.
Katherine Catmull:  Girl’s life force drained by evil tree.
Claire Legrand:  “The Garden Full of Bad Things” – Dog POV. Carnivorous garden. Lewis Carroll homage.
Stefan Bachman:  “Johnny Knockers” - Creepy man found inside whale. Wreaks havoc.
Emma Trevayne:  "Fairy Cakes". Villagers bake cakes to appease evil fairies.

PLTF:  Which story do you consider to be the scariest and why?
KC:  From the book, “The Storyteller’s Shadows,” because as a child I would lie awake in terror watching the shadows on my wall. On the website, “The Bone-Fire,” because your dead, half-burnt family coming back to life and furious with you . . . is scary.
CL:  “Red Shoes and Doll Parts” was the scariest for me to write because it involves an evil ventriloquist dummy, and I’m terrified of dolls in general but ventriloquist dummies in particular!
SB:  Of the stories I've written probably “Wayward Sons and Windblown Daughters”. It's mostly told through letters between a lonely girl at a creepy boarding school and her neglectful father in London, and I dunno how scary it is to other people, but there's a part toward that end that made me shiver violently while writing it, so I'm hoping that's a good sign. :)
I could not even tell you which of everyone else's stories are the scariest. I find them infinitely more terrifying than mine, though.
ET:  Of my own, Jack Shadow. There’s a line in there which I know totally creeps Stefan out, and I feel pretty smug about that. Haha. It also really, really doesn’t have a happy ending.
As for everyone else’s…oh man, don’t make me choose! So many of them scare me in the best way possible.

PLTF:  What is something you haven’t written a story about but wanted to (or maybe you have, but it wasn’t published in this anthology)?
KC:  Ghost knows she is ghost, but tries to live normally. Evil piano teacher. Demonic ice-cream truck. Ghost forest.
CL:  We have continued to post new stories to the Cabinet of Curiosities website since we sold the anthology. My favorite story I have written during that time is probably “The Knot Inside.” It’s about a girl who realizes   she has a string in her throat, and when she tries to pull it out . . . well, as is often the case in Cabinet stories, bad things happen.
SB:  I learn something new about writing every time I finish a short story, so if there were another Cabinet volume somewhere down the line I would be so excited. My favorite I've written on the site since the anthology came out is maybe “Butterfly Blood”.
ET:  We have this tendency to take very innocuous themes and make them creepy, because it’s more fun (and more of a stretch) to take, well, cake, for example, or flowers, or luck, and make them as dark and twisted as possible. It might be fun to take one of the really stereotypical happy things like unicorns (though Claire might veto that!) or rainbows, see how creepy we can make them.

PLTF:  Why did you decide to write middle grade scary stories instead of YA or adult ones?
KC:  Middle grade is fun! The readers are as smart as teens but without as many personal worries to absorb them.
CL:  All of us love writing middle grade in general, whether that’s short stories or novels. There’s something about writing for that age that lends itself to really pure, primal horror. I suppose that’s because you’re writing for     readers who are still young enough to have vivid imaginations and childhood fears, but who are also old enough to understand sophisticated storytelling and complex themes.
SB:  What Claire said. 
ET:  Ditto for me.

PLTF:  What’s next?
KC:  YA novel, still untitled, coming out in 2016. I can say no more!
CL:  We hope to keep writing Cabinet stories for the website, although given    our busy schedules, we won’t be posting as often, at least for right now.        Maybe a Cabinet of Curiosities volume 2 will happen someday—fingers    crossed!
SB:  Again, Claire has said it perfectly.
ET:  Yup, Claire nailed it again.

Lightning round
1.      On a scale of 1 to 10 how scary are your stories?   
KC:  It varies. I will say 7.5.
CL:  They vary. Some of our Cabinet stories aren’t so much straight horror as they are unsettling or simply bizarre. I would say they all at least hit a solid            5, though, and go up to an 8 or 9. Both writing and reading some of these    stories has really unnerved me!
SB: I feel like my stories are more of the mildly-disturbing-and-slowly-creeping ilk rather than out-and-out horror. Maybe somewhere between 4 – 7. There are definitely some 10's in the anthology though. For instance, don't read Katherine's “Transcript: Information Provided by an 11-Year-Old Male, Two Weeks after the Incident” if you're already having a particularly fraught night.
ET:  Most of mine I’d say are between 5 and 7. My agent still won’t speak to me about the end of Spidersong, though.

2.      If you were a character in your book would you survive?   
KC:  No. My Cabinet characters rarely do.
CL:  Oh, definitely. Some of the kids in our stories seem to be drawn to strange,  suspicious objects, people, and situations. I’m far too chicken to put myself       in danger like that.
SB:  No. I would open the creepy chest, be like “OK! :D” when someone suggests splitting off from the group, not look at the ceiling and see the drooling monster. I'd die.
ET:  Not a chance. I’d be too busy trying to get a really good look at the dragon, because when are you going to get a second chance at that? And then I’d get a really good look at the inside of a dragon. Which would be awesome. Until it wasn’t.

3.      Favorite scary movie?   
KC:  Maybe the first Night of the Living Dead? Also I have never made it all the way through Jacob’s Ladder. It scares me too much.
CL:  I’m not a huge horror movie fan, but I love The Ring and The Others. Oh, and Cabin in the Woods!
SB:  The Sixth Sense terrified me when I first saw it. Also Event Horizon (DEMONS IN SPACE). And I'll second The Ring.
ET:  The Silence of the Lambs.

4.      Favorite Halloween candy?  
KC:  Mini Baby Ruths. Candy corn is the work of the devil.
CL:  Kit-Kats! I hardly ever allow myself to eat them, but I always make sure to have them at the house around Halloween. You know, “for the trick-or-treaters.”
SB:  Reese's anything.
ET:  Anything chocolate. I’m not picky. Really. Just give me the chocolate.

5.     What were you last year for Halloween or what do you plan on being this year? 
KC:  I am an actor, so dressing up like another person just feels like a job to me! So I don’t very often. I do have a good witch hat.
CL:  I haven’t dressed up for Halloween in a while, but the last time I did, I was Lieutenant Uhura from Star Trek.
SB:  I live in Switzerland, where people are trying valiantly to make Halloween a thing and not really succeeding, and I remember when we were here fresh from America, me and my siblings went trick-or-treating, and everyone was like “Whyyy on earth should we give you candy, little child wearing a sheet?” So that was disillusioning, and also the end of Halloween costumes for me and my siblings.
ET:  I actually think I’m going to be at someone’s wedding, so I’ll be dressing up as a wedding guest.

This or That
1.      Short stories or full-length novels?   
KC:  Novels (by a hair).
CL:  I read novels more often, but a good short story gets under my skin in a way that most novels don’t.
SB:  I like both. If I feel too stressed or lazy to start a long book, I'll read whatever short thing I can find. If I'm *not* feeling stressed or lazy, there's not much better than a full-length book, though.
ET:  I love both, but if I want to truly lose myself, a novel. If I don’t have much time between other things, nothing beats a good short story.

2.     Ghosts or monsters?   
KC:  Ghosts all the way.
CL:  Ghosts!
SB:  I don't knowwwww. Both again? Can I do that?
ET:  Can I choose the monster? Because I’m like Hagrid: I’d love a dragon.

3.     Show the monster (or ghost or other spooky thing) or keep it hidden?
KC:  Hidden, at least most of the time--much scarier.
CL:  Keep it hidden! I like to write about spooky things, but I’d rather not             encounter them in real life. Remember: I’m a chicken.
SB:  Keep it hidden as long as possible, and then show it.
ET:  Keep it hidden! Someone else might want my dragon, and it’s MINE!

4.     Paranormal or realistic?   
KC:  A combination! Magic realism FTW.
CL:  Paranormal—but I’m very picky about paranormal novels.
SB:  “Realistic” is probably the most subjective term on the planet, so definitely paranormal.
ET:  As the last few answers should make clear, everything is better with dragons. So, paranormal.

5.     Tricks or treats?   
KC:  Treats, ‘cause I love to give and receive them. Tricks are exciting, though.
CL:  Treats! Alllllll the treats.   
ET:  All the treats, please. All the treats for me.

A collection of thirty six eerie, mysterious, intriguing, and very short short stories presented by the cabinet's esteemed curators, otherwise known as acclaimed authors Stefan Bachmann, Katherine Catmull, Claire LeGrand, and Emma Trevayne. Perfect for fans of Alvin Schwartz and anyone who relishes a good creepy read-alone or read-aloud story. Features an introduction and commentary by the curators, and illustrations and decorations throughout.

Find The Cabinet of Curiosities on

 Tinker of Shadows and Tailor of Lies, with a fascination for eighth notes, old trees and their inhabitants, and pictures that move. Don’t give him anything to hold because his fingers are stained with ink. At least, it looks like ink. . .
Stefan Bachmann was born in Colorado and stayed there for about five minutes until his parents decided they would rather live in Switzerland. They moved into a hundred-year-old house outside of Zurich and he’s been there ever since. He is a student of classical music at the Zurich Conservatory and the winner of a bevy of prizes few people have ever heard of. His debut, gothic-steampunk-faery-fantasy The Peculiar, was published by Greenwillow/HarperCollins in Fall 2012 and was a New York Times Editor’s Choice as well as a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2012, with rights selling in seven languages.

Dark Puppetress and Master Librarian, specializing in Dancing Accoutrements, Unicorn Paraphernalia, and the Especially Gruesome Relics of Botched Time Travel.
Claire Legrand is cheerful when you first meet her and increasingly disturbing the better acquainted with her you become. This might be why she feels so at home sorting through ancient tomes written with wicked intent and charred fingernails of great potential. But never fear: She will happily sit in the sunshine and discuss unicorns with you while sipping hot chocolate, her absolute favorite beverage. Her first novel, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, a NYPL Best Book of 2012, is about a girl who must face off with a sadistic orphanage director to save her slovenly yet charming best friend. Her second novel, The Year of Shadows, is about ghosts — good ones and bad ones — and a haunted symphony hall, and twelve-year-old Olivia, who would be right at home at the Cabinet, for she enjoys sketching pictures of the strange and dreadful. Curator Legrand’s third novel, Winterspell, is for young adult readers, and contains lots of violent swordplay and kissing, the latter of which, as we all know, leads to cooties.

Cataloger and Philosopher of Scientific Marvels with a particular focus on Jars of Moonlight, Frozen Flowers, Broken Fish Fins, Shiny Things Found On Pavements, and Bringing Cookies to Meetings.
Katherine Catmull looks friendly but she isn’t really very. She can usually be found lurking at home with her feral cat and her husband, who has disturbing eyebrows. Her novel Summer and Bird (Dutton Children’s/Penguin) is about two sisters who try to find their vanished parents and find quite a lot of awful and exciting things instead, from an evil queen to a snake as long as the world is wide. Chapter 6 begins “The Puppeteer was full of dead birds,” if that gives you any idea. Her next book is due out in winter 2015, and I’m sure it will be just as creepy. Katherine is also an actor (and you know what they’re like) and does voiceover work for games like DC Universe Online (where she is the voice of Oracle, as well as a ravenous female zombie, a most unpleasant Atlantean, and others) and Wizard 101 (where she is Myrella Windspar, your faithful real estate salescat)

Collector of Auditory Oddities, Whimsical Words, and Cryptic Cyphers. Pays special attention to petrichor, things that glimmer, and mechanical body parts.
Emma Trevayne is often mistaken for a unicorn because of her hair, which makes her slightly nervous around Curator Legrand at Cabinet meetings. Her dog is convinced butterflies are really fairies in disguise. (And if you saw the size of his jaws, you wouldn’t argue with him either.) She is that very special type of person who reads dictionaries for fun, hovering with held breath over words such as fiendish, lucifugous, and malevolence. Over a meal entirely made up of cakes and chocolate, she will tell you strange and terrible things about violent houseplants. Her first novel, Coda, is for teenagers and is about music that makes you feel very odd indeed, but she has also written a middle grade steampunk fairytale, in which she did unforgivable things to famous landmarks and laughed the whole time. Clearly, whichever age group she writes for, the normal rules of science and nature (and perhaps, politeness and decency) are there to be broken.
Find The Curators on


  1. Mary DeBorde
    Wow!! Some of those stories DO sound creepy - especially Red Shoes and Doll Parts .... *eek* to ventriloquist dummies :O

  2. I love that it's MG steampunk. And the cover is so cute!