Monday, February 26, 2018

Author Spotlight: Cadaver and Queen by Alisa Kwitney + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM
I'm the author of YA, graphic novels and novels for adults who still feel young, at least most of the time.
My latest books are Cadaver & Queen from Harlequin Teen, a Feminist Frankenstein meets Grey's Anatomy tale, and Mystik U from DC Comics, which features Zatanna and other magical characters in their first year at college. 

My first novel, Till the Fat Lady Sings, is also about college and romance and eating disorders. (It was my thesis at Columbia University's MFA Program, where I felt like an outlier for liking comic books and romance as much as literature.) I was an editor at Vertigo, the mature/dark fantasy branch of DC Comics, before going freelance. (I've also written two hormonal werewolf books as Alisa Sheckley.) 

I live in an old house in Rhinebeck, NY with my husband, my cat, and the occasional visiting skunk.

Title: Cadaver and Queen
Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Sci Fi
Author: Alisa Kwitney
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication: February 27th 2018
Cover Rating: 5/5
Reading format: Provided ARC

Cadaver & Queen is the story of Lizzie and Victor while they are attending medical school in Britain. Lizzie is the first females to be allowed to study medicine at Ingold while Victor was a previous student but met with some not so great circumstances but they somehow meet during this book and a huge ordeal takes place.

Lizzie is our main character. We start the book out on her first day at Ingold, a medical school in Britain. She is the first female student they have allowed to attend actual medical school there. She receives a lot of hate and anger from the male students AND teachers who don't think she should be there. She does end up making 2 really good friends and one of those friends happens to be the brother of Victor Frankenstein.

Victor was a student at Ingold. He was the brightest and most focused student in his class. Then he ends up dead. Everyone thinks it was just a medical emergency that killed Victor. Then Lizzie starts working with one of the professors and she meets Victor. Only she doesn't know who he really is. Victor was killed to keep a secret. A secret that involves the queen and some very questionable medical advances. But if Victor was killed, how is he still 'alive'?

Now... Ingold isn't your average medical school. In this world automatons are invented. They were invented as a way to build a better army but some people have been using them for other purposes. Ingold happens to be one of those places. But what kind of purposes? I guess you will just have to read this awesome book to find out!

The plot of the story is pretty straightforward but also has some twists and turns. I didn't know who I could trust at all in this book. It seemed like everyone had their own agenda and those agendas weren't exactly wholesome. I just really enjoyed the medical and romance aspects of this book. I didn't think I would enjoy a romance like the one in this book but I found myself rooting for them both so much! 

In the end, I was extremely satisfied with this book. If you loved the Stalking Jack the Ripper books and are looking for something to help tide you over then I HIGHLY suggest checking this book out. If you like YA in general then I suggest this book. I never used to like historical fiction but books like this definitely have changed my mind. I cannot wait for the next book in the series, I hear its about another character from the book but we still get to see Lizzie and Victor!

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.

1)What was the inspiration behind Cadaver & Queen?

I started with the idea of a Victor Frankenstein who is both the brilliant, ambitious medical student of Shelly’s novel and the monster. I was thinking about all the ways a person can sustain damage, both emotional and physical, and how difficult it is to piece yourself back together. 

I have been fascinated by Victorian death culture and medicine for ages. We tend to think of the Victorians as being melodramatic or sentimental, but teenagers and people in their twenties were perfectly capable of humor and snark. They talked about feeling down as “getting the morbs,” which is the perfect way to puncture a Heathcliffian hero’s boughts of brooding.

I was also intrigued by the question, “When are we our truest selves?” Are we most fully ourselves when we are at our best? What happens if we are injured or get sick or lose confidence and can no longer perform the way we once did? 

Last but not least, I was inspired both by Mary Shelly’s novel and the stories of how she came up with the idea during a ghost story competition with her husband, the poet Shelly, and their friend Lord Byron. Two of the characters in the novel, Byram and Will Frankenstein, Victor’s younger brother, are loosely based on Byron and Shelly. And gender swapping the main role (in Shelly’s novel, Elizabeth Lavenza is Victor’s fiancee) felt like an important way to reconsider the themes of the original novel. I remember a friend of my mother’s coming up to me and suggesting that, when I had children, I would no longer have the same need to create stories—as if writing, for a woman, was just sublimated baby-making. I wanted to write a story that didn’t pit a woman’s ambition against her desire for love.

2) If you could bring any of the characters in this book to life, who would you pick and why?

I think I would have to choose Aldini, Professor Makepiece’s Bio-Mechanical cat, which is on its tenth life.

3) What are some of your favorite books?

I love Connie Willis’ Victorian time travel book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, which is an ode to an earlier book, Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome. Jerome’s book was published in 1889, is so young and snarky and funny that it’s really startling to realize how long ago it was written. When it comes to gothicky books, nothing can compare to Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle. 

4) Can you describe Cadaver & Queen in one sentence?

I call the book my “Feminist Frankenstein meets Grey’s Anatomy,” because it’s part reimagined Frankenstein and part medical school drama. My heroine, Elizabeth Lavenza, is the only female medical student at a school that manufactures Bio-Mechanicals—mechanized cadavers intended to serve in Queen Victoria’s army. Bio-Mechanicals aren’t supposed to have any thoughts or feelings, but Lizzie discovers one who seems to have self-awareness—and memories of his former life as Victor Frankenstein, a former student who died under mysterious circumstances.
As a reader, I enjoy reading about the kind of romantic conflict that challenges characters’ sense of themselves and the way they see the world. I also like it when a story has a range of emotional tones—moments of lightness and humor, moments of emotional intensity, and moments of horror or suspense. So when I write, I try to deliver the kind of story I like to read. 

5) Are you currently working on any new books? 

I’m working on the sequel to Cadaver & Queen, which features some of the same characters and some new ones. The new book is set in the East End of London, and the main protagonists are Aggie, the gin-drinking nursing student from the first book, and Dodger, a philosophical pickpocket. And yes, that’s Dodger as in the Artful Dodger—we also meet other characters from Dickens, including a disguise artist named Faygie and a drug-addled body thief named Twist.


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