Friday, July 18, 2014

Interview: Katherine Harbour + Thorn Jack

Today I'm super excited to have debut author Katherine Harbour stopping by the blog to answer a few questions about her retelling of the Tam Lin fairy tale, Thorn Jack. I'm a HUGE fan of fairy tale retellings of all kinds as there's nothing more fascinating to me than reading a different take on a familiar story, so if you're anything like me I hope you'll add Thorn Jack to your lists. Welcome to Supernatural Snark Katherine!

Finn’s sister kept a journal containing descriptions of various supernatural creatures. Which of the creatures in that journal terrifies you most at the thought of it being real?

That would be the Grindylow, which resemble grotesque, human-sized, ball-joint dolls that move when no one is looking. The idea came from golem myths and an old Twilight Zone episode about mannequins.

You mention that Thorn Jack was influenced in part by Frankenstein. Continuing in that same vein, can you introduce Jack to those of us who have yet to meet him by describing his various physical/personality traits through the filter of other fictional or mythological characters? For instance, he has the charm of Puck mixed with the danger of Captain Hook.   

I’d describe Jack as having the valor of Lancelot with the savagery of Dionysus; the cunning of Raven with the moodiness of Hamlet; the humor of Hermes with the pride of Lucifer.

What’s one question Finn would love to ask Jack (or a member of his family) but can’t because she’s too afraid of what the answer will reveal? 

One question would be: Are you the dead? Finn knows Jack and the Fata family aren’t human. Discovering that they’re spirits who have managed to hang on to some replica of life would be disturbing for her.

If you were in Finn’s shoes, thrust into a world where nothing is quite as it seems, what would you do to ensure you didn’t lose yourself in all the madness?

I’d try to center myself with friends, or just go with it and learn the rules of the unreal world. Most likely, I’d go crazy.

In your research for Thorn Jack, did you come across any interesting tidbits or stories of paranormal experiences that thoroughly surprised you?

I had my own paranormal experience when I was ten. I was with my friends on a corner, at dusk, and one block away was my old grade school, which had closed. We heard a weird rustling and saw a black shadow in a gown just gliding along near the school. That was terrifying. While doing research for Thorn Jack, I found a creepy phrase that used to be spoken against the faery folk in Ireland: ‘May their backs be toward us, their faces turned away from us, and may God save us from harm.’ And the stories about the faery fool, the Amadan, were pretty unsettling.

If you were to write yourself into Thorn Jack as a friend who joins Finn in her attempt to solve the mystery surrounding her sister’s death, what special skill or trait would you say you possess that would be useful to her?

If I was one of Finn’s friends, I think a helpful skill would be to know what kind of Fata she was dealing with and what his/her weaknesses were.

Looking ahead to the sequels, what’s one question you wish someone would ask you about the changes the characters go through or the events that unfold?

One question I wish people would ask would be: Will the human protagonists be irrevocably transformed by their time with the Fatas? Or will they remain mortal? Although I won’t answer it.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Katherine!

• • • • • • • • • • • 


Finn Sullivan has lost her older sister to suicide. Fleeing the memories left in San Francisco, she and her father move to an upstate New York town filled with socialities, hippies, movie and Theatre folk, where every corner holds possibilities and mysteries. As she settles in and begins college at the local university, HallowHeart, she discovers her sisters journal, filled with ominous musings on otherworldly beings.  She also meets the devastatingly handsome Jack Fata—and the rest of the enigmatic Fata family. 

As Finn’s fascination with Jack and his family deepens—and theirs for her does the same—she learns that they and the rest of the town denizens are far more than they seem, both for good and evil. Her sister’s journal suddenly seems much more menacing and realistic than she could ever have imagined.

Soon Finn learns that attention from the Fatas brings dangerous consequences. To free herself and save her friends and her love, Finn must confront the Fatas and unravel the secrets surrounding her sister’s death.

• • • • • • • • • • •


Born in upstate New York, Katherine Harbour is now a bookseller in Sarasota, Florida living with a tempestuous black cat named Pooka and too many books. She has been writing since she was 15 and has had several short stories published. THORN JACK is her first novel.


  1. Oh wow, this sounds really good! Haha - yup, Grindylow can stay in the book.

  2. I only saw this one today, sounds good

  3. Ok, this is the first I'm hearing about this book and I'm already hooked!! I'm not usually one for retellings but this one sounds so creepy, unique and intriguing!! I'm adding this one to the TBR list right NOW!
    Fantastic interview, Jenny! Thank you so much for always discovering these great books for me!

  4. Just finished this book and it was very good. It gives you the creeps, in a very good way!

  5. "That would be the Grindylow, which resemble grotesque, human-sized, ball-joint dolls that move when no one is looking."

    Umm... Eww! That's sure to give me nightmares for ages! This does sound like a really strong book, Jenny. I haven't heard of it before, but I'm looking forward to it now. It sounds creepy and intriguing!

  6. The author speaks of unsettling creatures and incidents and I love that this vibe carried into the book because those Irish (and others) tales are so dark and disturbing! Really enjoyed this story.

  7. Wonderful post with Katherine Harbour! I love this part about Jack-
    "I’d describe Jack as having the valor of Lancelot with the savagery of Dionysus; the cunning of Raven with the moodiness of Hamlet; the humor of Hermes with the pride of Lucifer." Wow. I just bought Thorn Jack and I'm so excited to escape into this realm. Thanks Jenny & Katherine :)

  8. I love the cover on this book and I haven't heard too much about it before, but now this interview has me curious. I'll be looking into it for sure. Thanks for putting it on my radar, Jenny!(:

  9. Jack sounds like a really fascinating character. He's got one heck of a personality description. Thanks for putting this one on my radar, Jenny. I've never heard of it before.

  10. This one sounds really interesting. I feel like I've read the Tam Lin story before, but I can't remember if it's the one I'm thinking of or not. Jack sounds like an awesome character.

  11. I haven't heard of this book but now I really want to read it.Not only because of Jack who sounds like a mix of some really great characters but also as the whole story seems great. Grindylow sound so scary though. Great interview, Jenny :)

  12. This one really does sound fascinating! I don't think I had heard of it before! I'm not always a fan of retellings but I think this is one I would enjoy.

  13. When characters are describes as having characteristics from say famous figures it always throws me a little especially if I don't know those characters. Its the same for me when they are compared to other books or movies.

    Still sounds so enjoyable and glad I have a copy!

  14. Grindylows sound super scary!
    I am not familiar with this fairy tale for some reason Jenny but I definitely want to read this book now, I think I would really like it.

    Have a great weekend!!!

  15. Oh this looks so good! I love retellings and am curious about this one. I would have found it fun to see a floating lady when I was 10. :)

  16. "Most likely, I’d go crazy." :D I always think that about these paranormal worlds - if I was actually put in the main character's shoes I like to think I'd be able to roll with it but I'd probably just curl up into a ball and go insane. :-) Awesome interview, this sounds like such a cool retelling!

  17. As always, Jenny, your interview was FABULOUS. I can't wait to read this book. You know that I love all things Fae, and I particularly love it when the Fae resemble their darker, German selves. Throw in some Frankenstein, and I just don't see how I could go wrong here.

  18. OMG! That sure sounds creepy, the dolls moving when no one is looking, haha. I had a dream about dolls not too long ago, and of course watched Chuckie the night before (yay me) so I don't think I'd want to read something about one of those thingies just yet but I'd be VERY interested to check this out when I'm in the mood to explore that part again. Haha.

    Faye at The Social Potato

  19. What a lovely interview, Jenny! I interviewed Katherine on Friday, too, and I must say, your questions are much more in-depth than mine. But then again, I haven't read the book yet!

    Also, the dolls moving when no one is looking? I AM TERRIFIED.

  20. It's really intriguing and I love the cover! Now I confess i also want to discover this fascinating world. thanks for the post!

  21. I always enjoy reading your interviews so much! I haven't heard of Thorn Jack so far but it definitly sounds good and I have to put it on my Goodreads shelves. And now I'm going to bed and will be having nightmares for the rest of my life. Grindylows, seriously? They are the creepiest thing I've ever heard of!!!!