If you follow me on any social media you would have heard of me raving about The Winner’s Curse. I was lucky enough to win an advanced copy and read it soon upon receiving. Once I dove into Rutkoski’s world and writing I was unable to leave. I sat in virtually one spot for an evening reading. I fell immediately in love with Aron and Kestrel and above all Marie Rutkoski’s writing.
It is my honor and pleasure to be featuring this title on my blog as well as being part of the blog tour. I will be sharing my love for this book in greater detail in the near future with my review but for now all you need to know is that this book is my favorite of 2014 and is one of my favorite books of all time.
About the Book:
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.
One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.
But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.
Interview with Marie Rutkoski:
What are some of your favorite books and influences on your writing?
Jane Austen in a huge favorite and a big influence on this book, in part because she is so attuned to how small details can covey so much. There’s plenty of action in The Winner’s Curse, I think—but not in the beginning. I told myself, though, that Austen was able to make a conversation over tea riveting, and that a secret glance in Pride and Prejudice is as good as a feast. That’s because we are reading her books for the emotional events. And so, similarly, the beginning of The Winner’s Curse is a lot about emotional shifts, and understandings. It has a quiet start…until Lots of Things Happen.
I also thought about the character of Emma. Emma is clever, but she is also blind, and Mr. Knightley is constantly trying to open her eyes. Arin is not Mr. Knightley, who cares for Emma and wants to help her. Arin despises Kestrel, and has good cause for it. It is his fury that compels him to force her to see things differently. What he doesn’t realize (not at first) is how her vulnerability to this– and her ability to change herself– is going to change him.
Henry James, too, is an influence because of how he likes to represent people in impossible situations, and characters who tend to be both so right and so very wrong.
Could you share some of your favorite star-crossed lovers in fiction?
Well, we always think of Shakespeare first, right? At least I do. Romeo and Juliet. Desdemona and Othello. The key thing to remember in the star-crosses here is the damage done by a clash of cultures. A good star-cross isn’t just about two people who can’t be together because of REASONS, but about how these people are victims of social problems that are not their fault. The lovers have inherited these problems, and they may perpetuate them, but we can see their innocence as well as their guilt.
How did you go about about researching military strategy for The Winner’s Curse
I read Thucydides’s The History of the Peloponnesian War, which was great for some practical details—like how to defeat certain kinds of siege engines—but perhaps turned out to be most useful for thinking about how to make people go to war, and how to sustain them through it. How Thucydides represents the emotions surrounding why people fight was really crucial.
In terms of actual strategy, I consult my husband if there is any kind of battle involving calvary. He was serious about horse riding for many years, and did his military service in France.
Battles sometimes become a game in my head. No real lives are involved, so I can think about it as a puzzle: here are a few things I need to have happen, here are my principal players, here are their assets and drawbacks. A bit of mental chess.
But…the thing is, my father was in the army and my youngest brother served, too, until a final tour in Afghanistan. And so, although this isn’t quite what you’re asking, what I want to say is that the most important thing to me when writing about war is considering how a soldier or general might feel. We know that we ask soldiers to risk their lives, but do we think as often about the cost to them when they take someone’s life? What are the ethical questions involved, the fears, and the costs?
Do you write to music if so what type?
I don’t listen to music as I write. Impossible. But I like to listen to music while I run, and to think about some aspect of a book I’m working on. I sometimes will listen to one song on repeat. Here is a playlist of songs that I did that with for The Winner’s Curse (caveat: though there are gorgeous male voices below, I don’t think of any of them as Arin’s).
- “Sigh No More,” Mumford and Sons.
- “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” The National
- “Half Light II (No Celebration),” Arcade Fire
- “Dancing on My Own,” Robyn
- “A+E,” Goldfrapp
- “Limit to Your Love,” James Blake
- “If It’s True,” Anais Mitchell feat. Justin Vernon and Greg Brown
- “Green,” Brandon James (but a live, acoustic version a friend gave me that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else. I suspect it’s bootlegged. I don’t care for the original recorded version).
You didn’t ask for this, but here’s one song I’ve been listening to and thinking about for the sequel to The Winner’s Curse:
“Take Care,” Florence + the Machine. It’s a cover of Drake’s song, and the version I’m listening to:
The Winner’s Curse is available for Pre-order and will release March 4th 2014 by Farrar Straus Giroux
You can win your very own hardcover and swag (bookmarks, stickers, and eyeshadow). US/Canada only