Blog Tour: Guest Post and Giveaway by Kat Beyer, Author of The Demon Catchers of Milan and The Halcyon Birds

Kat Beyer

Kat Beyer has an M.A. in medieval history and has loved all things Italian for as long as she can remember. Her first novel was The Demon Catchers of Milan. She lives with her daughter in Madison, Wisconsin. Visit her online at http://www.katspaw.com/blog/.

The Halcyon Bread

Published November 11th, 2014 by Egmont. Available wherever books are sold.

I have a masters in Medieval History from the University of St Andrews, Scotland. I did research for this book long before I knew that was what I was doing; one of my special subjects at university was pre-Renaissance Italian literature, and we covered a great deal of Italian history in that and in my Ancient History course. When I began to write, I read surveys of Italian history and dug more deeply into specific subjects—some of which I can’t mention without giving spoilers, sadly. I love to research. The world is absolutely fascinating. I get lost down wrong turnings in books all the time when I’m supposed to be looking something else up. 

I raided used bookstores. I still do. Libraries are amazing, but there are books that get dropped because no-one reads them, and used bookstores are a precious, important resource that people need to take better care of; in Feldman’s Books in Menlo Park, California, I found a wonderful, scholarly and therefore very creepy book on demonic possession translated from German, called Possession Demoniacal and Other—Among Primitive Races, in Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and Modern Times, by T. K. Oesterreich. Another favorite is called A Celebration of Demons by Bruce Kapferer (if you look up information on this title you’ll get a spoiler, though, so be careful). 

I also read tourist guides. These are good at giving the feel of certain aspects of a city, and if you read several at once you can kind of cross-reference them. They have different audiences; it’s useful to read one for backpackers and students and another for wealthy travelers.

When I travelled to Milan I raided bookstores there, because in this age of the Internet we overlook not only used bookstores but bookstores in place. Not everything can be found on the Internet, as I discovered when I pulled histories of Celtic Milan and essays on Milanese history from the shelves of Hoepli, Garzanti, Milano Libri, and a little used bookshop I remember being on the Largo Cairoli but can’t seem to find. The proprietor was standing on a ladder when I walked in and asked for a “piccolo Boccaccio.” (I was trying to ask for a small copy of the Decameron.) He regarded me gravely, a dapper, bearded man, and said, “Boccaccio non è piccolo. Boccaccio è un autore grande.—Boccaccio isn’t small. He is a big author.” I hurried to apologize and then saw the twinkle in his eye. I now have several small copies of the Decameron, which I can only read parts of, because frankly my Italian remains pretty scrappy. 

I use the Internet too. When I want the family to race from one side of the city to the other I Google directions and try to be very, very specific about street addresses. I use Google street view to refresh my memory, and I use Wikipedia. Go ahead and shudder, purists, but if you check the references on an article and you happen to, say, have a degree in related subjects, you can often extrapolate what you need to know or determine whether an article is reliable. I actually think Wikipedia is a really exciting and useful phenomenon. I also look up recipes and nightclubs and the fashion and football calendars and so forth. Just now I looked up the names of bookstores, though I had to refer to my DK Milan and the Lakes guide in the end.

Finally and importantly I talk to people. I talked to Milanese in the street, in shops, in restaurants, wherever we were. I asked questions as politely as possible. I observed all the tiny details I could. 

It’s hard to trace how I integrate all of this. What usually happens is that I research the heck out of something, take copious notes, and then, later—sometimes months later—while I’m writing, it all falls into place. And then, much later, when my copyeditor gets ahold of it and demands that I prove that something exists or existed, happens today or once happened, I cannot find the reference in my notes, even though I can often picture the page or the website. My editor loves to read our polite disputes in the comments. Copyeditor: “Risotto is never baked.” Me: “[Splatting three links to baked risotto recipes in Italian]—but then these recipes are Southern Italian except for the last one. I defer to you.” 

We work hard to make sure everything is as accurate as possible. I had set a scene in the Parco Sempione after dark, but at the time of year I’m referencing, it would be shut and gated well before then, so I had to go back and rewrite just weeks before we went to press, because none of us had caught it.

The writing process itself is something that I get so deeply involved in that I often don’t remember exactly how it happened later. I do remember the thrill of writing the opening lines for The Demon Catchers of Milan, because I knew then that I was writing something that was going to be good. Because I try to keep a pretty steady pace, returning each workday to my desk and to the work, I keep up a flow that leaks into the rest of my life, so that often I’ll have a big breakthrough while I’m wandering around the house picking up after my daughter, or while I’m discussing some difficulty in the book with myself in my journal. I would include excerpts here but those would be an express train to Spoiler City.

Giveaway Details

Up for grabs: A signed copy of The Halcyon Birds 

Open to US/Canada residents only.

To enter, leave a comment with your name, email address and the reason why you want to read this books.

Giveaway will run for a week. Winner will be chosen by random.org. Winner will be given 24 hours to reply. Failure to do so will lead to another winner being chosen.

Check out other blogs in the tour:

 Monday, November 10, 2014

Adventures in YA Publishing
One question and giveaway

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tales of the Ravenous Reader
Guest post and giveaway

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pamela Thompson’s Blog
Giveaways

Addicted Readers
Guest post and giveaway

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Curling Up With A Good Book
Q&A and giveaway

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Book Wars
Guest post and giveaway

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Book Briefs Blog
Guest post and giveaway

The Children’s Book Review
Guest post and giveaway

Adventures in YA Publishing
Q&A

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Charlotte’s Library
Guest post and giveaway

A Dream Within A Dream
Q&A and giveaway

Monday, November 17, 2014

Batch of Books
Q&A and giveaway

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fandom Monthly
Q&A and giveaway

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Brandi Breathes Books
Guest post and giveaway

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Crossroad Reviews
Review and giveaway

Friday, November 21, 2014

Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Review and giveaway

  • Mwahahaha! Thanks again Nafiza for reminding me about this! Unsurprisingly, I would LOVE a copy of this as I credit The Demon Catchers of Milan as being potentially the first book ever (but definitely the only book in the past few years) to put paranormal fiction on my plate instead of getting scared shudders or side eyes haha. (Not that it didn’t get good delicious scared shudders in. Just not horrified oh-dear-god-I-will-never-sleep-again ones!)

  • Great post! Love hearing about how the process goes for other writers.
    Why do I want to read the book? Because I love reading, of course! :)Best of luck with the book,
    Meredith
    meredithhatcher@hotmail.com

  • I love to read. I definitely want to read The Demon Catchers of Milan now. I find it so intriguing when an author can make a fictional story but keep details of a time and place accurate. ..really helps readers believe in the story. Thanks for giving me a new author and books to put on my want to read list.