THE BLACKBIRD SEASON BLOGTOUR
TITLE: THE BLACKBIRD SEASON
AUTHOR: KATE MORETTI
Hi and welcome to my blog IF IN DOUBT TEAD I’m thrilled to have been invited into the tour for #TheBlackBirdseason by Kate Moretti and would like to thank the publisher and for my gorgeous paperback review copy and for the opportunity to take part. For other blogger reviews, extracts and more check out the blog tour poster above or simply follow the #. Here’s a little bit of info on what the books all about…followed by an extract a series of Q and A’s with the author and my review 😊
In a quiet town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a school playing field. As journalists flock to the scene, one of them catches a teacher, Nate Winters, embracing a female student. The student claims that she and Nate are having an affair, sending shockwaves through the close-knit community. Then the student disappears, and the police have only one suspect: Nate.
Nate’s wife, Alecia, is left wondering if she ever really knew her seemingly loving husband. Nate’s co-worker, Bridget, is determined to prove his innocence and find the missing student. But both women will have to ask themselves do they really know what Nate is capable of?
Bridget had a cat. A petite gray-and-white stray that she adopted a month after Holden died, an ill-advised decision. She named her Sunny, after the prostitute in Catcher in the Rye. It was her own simple, obtuse memorial to her husband, but also she loved irony. The cat was both gray and grumpy. So, Sunny she was, or more likely, she wasn’t. No one ever got the joke, but then again, most people didn’t get Bridget’s jokes, with the exception of Holden.
Lord, how she missed him.
It had been less than a year since his death. Two years since his diagnosis, and ten since they married. Bridget liked to imagine her life in timeline form, and sometimes, if she’d had enough to drink and it was late enough at night, she envisioned it hovering there above her head. A single line with dots, like a subway map, green up to the fall of 2012, red and bloody for that year between 2012 and 2013, and muddy-water brown thereafter with a blinking red You Are Here somewhere along the interminable brown. She couldn’t see anything past today.
There was a tiny bit of freedom in being alone. She popped a frozen dinner into the microwave, waited the requisite two minutes, and pulled it out with two fingers, dropping it onto a paper plate. She poured white zinfandel into a red Solo cup because she hated doing dishes, and took her dinner to the living room. Holden would have died, had he been alive. He liked expensive cabernet, from certain regions in France—she had no idea which ones. He was also a particular eater and had specific, bizarre notions of what could and should not be eaten together. Steak and potatoes. Pasta and pork. Chicken and rice. Only in those two combinations. In restaurants, she’d feel endlessly irritated at his requests: whole potatoes, not mashed, no garlic, extra pepper.
Now she could eat whatever she wanted. Strange how she’d welcome back in a heartbeat all the things she used to wish away. When she talked to him, which she did sometimes, not enough to be called often, she didn’t look at his picture or up to the ceiling. She talked as though he was right there next to her.
“Tomorrow I’ll cook something, H. I promise. Maybe.”
You never make promises to the dead that you don’t intend to keep. She wasn’t religious, but Mama’s voice often floated up from the swamps of Georgia just to smack her in the head.
Sunny kneaded at her leg, bucking his head under Bridget’s chin. She ran her nails down the cat’s back, scratching just above his tail. She popped the last bite of gluey mashed potatoes into her mouth, took a deep drink of wine, and reached across the sofa cushions for the journal.
It was black; many of them were. They could pick their own, a request they’d all initially groaned at. But later they’d come in with leather-bound notebooks that reflected their personalities, handing them in shyly as if a glitter-pink cover or gilded pages revealed something otherwise unknown about their souls. They were teenagers; black and angsty was their jam. The class, creative writing, held both juniors and seniors as an elective. The seniors were edging toward college, the sweet lick of freedom bittersweet on their lips, so they weren’t as moody as the juniors who were stuck in Mt. Oanoke for another eighteen months. The seniors were coming full bloom, all the things that had seemed so confining starting to take on the rosy glow of nostalgia. High school was in their rearview mirror.
She flipped the pages. Lucia’s journal was erratic, with changing handwriting, drawings, and block letters filled in with pen. She didn’t read all the entries in anyone’s diary. The exercise was more for the idea of journaling, writing down their brainy, brilliant thoughts, just to get them on paper. She didn’t care about the content, just if they were done on time. They’d ask her, did you read mine? For all their complaining, they seemed to crave the approval.
I’m not a virgin. That’s a joke, right? No one thinks that. I’m a slut. A skank. A witch. A fetish. Never a real person. Except to you. And maybe Taylor, although she’s been flaky. Cares more about Kelsey and Riana and, depending on the day, Andrew.
I couldn’t care less about any of them. I care about you, though, so there’s that.
I had always heard very good things about the author Kate Moretti’ and now I know why. This thriller blew me away- it’s dark, sophisticated and we’ll crafted.
It is a slow burning story that is told from the perspectives of the four main protagonists Nate – A popular high school teacher accused of having an affair with a young pupil, Alecia his wife, Bridgette a fellow teacher and Lucia the above mentioned pupil, the story also flip flops between different time frames and although I managed to keep a grasp on this and the numerous threads running through this book, it is worth commenting on the fact that there are ALOT of sub themes- bullying, abuse, self harm to name but a few, so have your wits about you if you don’t want to get a bit lost.
The author creates the setting of a run down small town where the cloying claustrophobia of everyone knowing each other is almost suffocating to perfection, it’s a dead end town that most of the students can’t wait to escape.
I had a bit of a shock when I opened my book post and a handful of jet black feathers fell out of the envelope but I was inf or another one when this was mirrored by a 10000 dead starlings fall from the sky in the opening scenes of the book. What the… I can’t even imagine witnessing such an event but this sets the scene for another event that equally horrifies the town- the press spotting Nate embracing Lucia. Initially I liked Nate and felt sorry for him as he liked set to lose everything, but as the story progressed I began to doubt he was the innocent, faultless teacher he claimed to be. I also found that despite empathising for Alecia’s situation ( dealing with rumours of an unfaithful husband and looking after their autistic 5 yr old son) I didn’t warm to her personality one bit I found her cold and unlikable. However that said it Not enhanced my enjoyment of the story and I found Moretti was able to create characters that are well drawn and believable.
A high octane thriller this was not but an engaging well written read it most certainly is. Thought provoking and intense. I love Moretti’s writing style and look forward to reading all her other work very soon.
Highly recommended for lovers of mystery/ thrillers…
I would now love to welcome Kate the author of The Blackbrid season into IF IN DOUBT READ…
Hi Kate and welcome, Could you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Sure! I live in Pennsylvania, on the east coast of the US, in an old farmhouse that unfortunately, has no known ghosts (and I’ve looked!). I have two children in elementary school and a day job in the pharmaceutical industry as a technical writer. I also have an extremely patient husband who is perfectly content to revolve his life around my circus.
How long did it take you to write ‘ The Blackbird Season’?
I took about eight months to write it, then another six to revise it. It was challenging because of the multiple POV and back and forth timeline. It’s also more character driven than anything I’ve written before, so that always slows things down. It’s much easier to figure out something for your characters to DO as opposed to who they are.
Where do you find inspiration for your books?
Real life and the news, sometimes my own life but not often. I’m mostly very boring. I saw an article on a teacher who followed her students on social media and was able to subvert a crisis. I thought this was interesting as it seemed like such an anomaly. There are many more ways for this to go very wrong.
What are your three favourite books and why?
I genuinely don’t have three favorite books! I have favorite authors but even then, I couldn’t pick 3. For classic mystery/suspense I love Patricia Highsmith, Agatha Christie, Daphne Du Maurier. I adore anything Megan Abbott writes. Gillian Flynn is a genius when it comes to creating characters that double as social commentary. Everything I know about police procedure I learned from Michael Connelly. For giving characters real flair, I turn to Liane Moriarty, who manages to bring a real sense of humanity and life to her books.
What are your three top tips for aspiring writers/authors?
Read a lot. Write a lot, but don’t feel pressure to “write every day”. Buy craft books and read them but if you don’t subscribe to one method that works, that’s ok, too. But just the act of reading craft books forces you to examine your own process and learn from it. Reach out to other writers, especially those you admire and tell them so.
What is your favourite aspect of writing and is there anything that you struggle with?
I LOVE the beginning. The first thousand words. The pitch, the fleshing out of characters and ideas. Before it gets really, really hard. I struggle with revisions. I know it’s where I create my best work but it’s so hard and messy and exhausting and time consuming. It’s the real grit of it and I have a love/hate relationship with it.
Can you describe your journey from idea to publication?
It’s never been the same journey twice! Right now, I get pitch an idea to my current editor and if she likes it (and buys it!) I get to write a book to spec. It can’t vary too far from that pitch (some might be ok). This is a huge privilege in this world and I’m so grateful. I’m sure at some point, I’ll feel compelled to write something that doesn’t jive with my publisher’s vision for me and we’ll all have to make choices, which might involve writing a book without a contract. I imagine (and remember) that as freeing but also scary. After the draft is done, it’s a lot of back and forth with my incredibly thorough and astute editor at Atria books. She really helps me mold the book into the final product.
Just for fun…
Sweet or savoury? Savory!
Tea or coffee? Coffee. Gallons of it.
Payback, hardback or kindle? Kindle or paperback. I love the idea of a hardback but I can’t read them in bed, which is where I do all my reading.
Cats or dogs? Cats.