Book Title: Not Good For Maidens
Author: Tori Bovalino
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Release Date: June 21, 2022
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror
Salem’s Lot meets The Darkest Part of the Forest in this horror-fantasy retelling of Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market.”
Lou never believed in superstitions or magic–until her teenage aunt Neela is kidnapped to the goblin market.
The market is a place Lou has only read about–twisted streets, offerings of sweet fruits and incredible jewels. Everything–from the food and wares, to the goblins themselves–is a haunting temptation for any human who manages to find their way in.
Determined to save Neela, Lou learns songs and spells and tricks that will help her navigate this dangerous world and slip past a goblin’s defenses–but she only has three days to find Neela before the market disappears and her aunt becomes one of them forever.
If she isn’t careful, the market might just end up claiming her too.
Content warnings: on-page gore, on-page body horror, violence, trauma
Tori Bovalino grew up near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and never knew she wanted to live abroad until she was already in London. She’s awful at picking favorites, but her consistent go-to books are Pride and Prejudice, Fire, and The Picture of Dorian Gray. She’s enamored with books that make her cry.
Tori holds a BA in English fiction writing and anthropology and a minor in German from the University of Pittsburgh and an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London. She is currently on the Creative and practice-based PhD course at RHUL, researching the relationship between Russian folklore and YA fantasy novels. In her free time, Tori enjoys reading (duh), embroidering, and traveling.
She is represented by Dr. Uwe Stender and Amelia Appel at TriadaUS Literary Agency. She writes short stories, poetry, and novels.
I am so excited to host one of my favorite authors, Tori Bovalino, on A Court of Coffee and Books today! Thank you so much, Tori, for stopping by and don’t forget to preorder a copy of Not Good For Maidens!
Hi, Tori! What inspired you to write Not Good for Maidens?
Hello! I read Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” when I was in high school, and it was one of those poems that stuck with me—probably because it was very weird, and a little refreshing after a bunch of Shakespeare! I’ve always been drawn to dark gothic literature so that’s also part of it. When I went to Highgate on a university trip, we saw Rossetti’s grave, and that brought the idea of the goblin market back to me and I started toying with the idea of a short story about a girl who doesn’t belong to the market, but understands it.
Then, after I sold my first book, I took myself on a celebratory trip to York and it was like the pieces fell into place. Something about the utter age of the city and the awe-inspiring Minster felt right for a scary story about a market that runs on blood. It was just a lot of fractured ideas over a couple of years coming together into a story.
What was your favorite part of writing Not Good for Maidens?
Fun fact: May’s POV was originally chronologically backwards! A fun part for me was starting at the end and writing back to the beginning—and though it was stressful, turning her POV back around again made the story much more interesting (and coherent). I think writing May’s development was very fun for me, but I also loved creating Lou’s particular brand of humor and developing the relationships between the family members.
What can readers expect from your main character, Lou?
At her heart, Lou is a girl trying to find her place in the world, and more specifically, in her family. She’s a bit shy, and a bit meek, and she has to find some well of bravery within her when she’s the kind of girl who would rather be reading about adventures than living them. Lou is also asexual, and fully accepting of her identity, but is always seeking to understand more about herself and how she fits within the mosaic of her family.
How different was writing Not Good for Maidens compared to your debut book, The Devil Makes Three?
The experiences were completely different for a couple of reasons. When I was writing Devil, I was basically doing it in a vacuum. I was in college with no real life obligations other than showing up for work and class. I had tons of free time to sit in coffee shops and just write. But besides that, I wrote it with no real conviction people would read it. It was the book I wrote to distract myself from being on submission with another project, and it came up to bat when that book didn’t sell. Plus, I revised Devil over a couple of rounds with my agents before it even went on sub, went through like five rounds of beta readers, and then revised it again between rounds of submission before it even landed on my editor’s desk. In short, I basically have that book memorized.
For Maidens, it was totally different. I sold it on proposal, so by the time the book was confirmed to be A Book, I only had four chapters! Writing a book to a deadline was more stressful, and I now had other responsibilities, and I couldn’t just try a bunch of things out to see if they stuck because there had to be a draft. I wrote the full draft of Maidens in a six-week period living at home after my grandmother died, sitting up at the dining room table after my parents went to bed and chipping away at it. I basically alternated between writing and crying because my grandma had been such a big part of my life, and now I was working on this book that so closely followed the relationships in a family of women. It was a bit of a fugue state, to be honest, but I think I’ve honored those relationships in the book, and channeling some of that love into the relationship between Lou and Nana Tee was actually really helpful.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Try to find hobbies outside of writing, for one! Having something else to think about or go to can be monumentally helpful. Remember that working on your craft doesn’t just mean putting words on a page. I’m not a big reader of books about writing, but they do genuinely work for some people. I find that reading in my genre and in my niche, especially when writing a project, helps me nail down tone and atmosphere. I also find that editing is the most important part of writing, whether that’s a complete overhaul or just a few tiny corrections. That being said, it’s impossible to edit a blank page, as wiser people than me have said before.
And finally, remember that each little step is an accomplishment: a book is not something that you just write and publish. It’s a collaborative collection of hundreds of hours of work and notes and words and effort, and people cheering you on, and people saying no, and people saying yes. You haven’t finished a book? So what. You finished an hour. You finished a sentence. A word. That matters, and that counts for something.
What do you hope readers take away from Not Good for Maidens?
Take care of the people you love. No, that doesn’t mean sweeping declarations, or charging into dangerous situations to save one another—but really, how often do we face that kind of thing in our day-to-day lives? Just remember that there are a lot of people out there that love you, whether you know it or not.
Oh. And don’t follow strangers into mysterious magical markets. That probably doesn’t usually end well.
Thank you so, so much for having me!
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Thank you, TBR and Beyond Tours, for having us on this book tour!