BLOG TOUR: FERAL by Holly Schindler

Today I have the honor of being on the blog tour for FERAL by Holly Schindler. I have been a long time fan of Holly and I am so excited for her new novel. I am always looking for a read that will keep me on the edge of my seat and gripping my book for dear life and FERAL is just that read. Holly is here today and she is sharing her inspiration for FERAL and after you read her post make sure to enter the giveaway at the end of the blog.


FERAL falls squarely into the realm of the classic psychological thriller.  While the book features mystery, horror, and paranormal elements, the emphasis is on the “psychological” rather than thriller / action.  The novel features a Hitchcockian pace and focus on character development (here, we’re exploring the inner workings of the main character, Claire Cain).  Essentially, every aspect of FERAL is used to explore Claire’s inner workings—that even includes the wintry Ozarks setting.  The water metaphor is employed frequently in psychological thrillers to represent the subconscious, and here is incorporated in the form of a brutal ice storm (that represents Claire’s “frozen” inner state).  The attempt to untangle what is real from what is unreal (another frequently-used aspect of the psychological thriller) also begins to highlight the extent to which Claire was hurt in that Chicago alley.  Even the explanation of the odd occurrences in the town of Peculiar offers an exploration into and portrait of Claire’s psyche.  Ultimately, FERAL is a book about recovering from violence—that’s not just a lengthy or hard process; it’s a terrifying process, too.  The classic psychological thriller allowed me to explore that frightening process in detail. 

Because FERAL is a psychological thriller, the influences or sources of inspiration are largely cinematic:

1.      Black and white movies.  I love vintage movies—there’s also something about black and white that makes scary movies even scarier.

2.      Hitchcock.  You can’t go wrong with an old Hitchcock movie; REAR WINDOW might be my all-time favorite.

3.      FALL INTO DARKNESS by Christopher Pike.  Okay, this isn’t technically a movie—it’s a teen book.  But I grew up on contemporary realism—Blume, Cleary.  Fairly girly reads, actually.  I discovered Christopher Pike’s books when I was in junior high—it was the first time I read something that played out like a movie.  Though I’ve continued to love my contemporary realistic reads, I’ve also gravitated toward action-oriented novels as well.  Pike was my introduction to books that could play out in a dramatic, scenic way.

FERAL takes place in Missouri, my lifelong home state.  My surroundings also inspired the writing—especially the fictionalized depiction of Peculiar, Missouri:

1.      Rural Missouri.  I’m a sixth-generation Missourian.  I live in a city that’s a fairly even mix of both urban and rural, actually.  (I live in a city-style neighborhood, but the end of my street butts up against a field marked off by barbed wire.)  We also have pockets of woods throughout my hometown—beside a middle school near my house, for example.  That tiny pocket of woods near the middle school had a big influence on the depiction of the woods behind Peculiar High, where Serena’s body is dumped.

2.      My hometown’s ice storms in ’07 and ‘08.  We got absolutely hammered—my own family was in and out of power for a week in both instances, but some residents were out for two or three weeks at a time.  It was frigid and eerily still and worrisome—I’ll never forget gunshot-style sounds of limbs popping and breaking through the stillness of the night, or the way broken power lines stretched across streets.  That spooky feeling that accompanies an ice storm made its way into FERAL as well. 


The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know.

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.
But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.
But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….
Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.

Holly Schindler is the author of the critically acclaimed A BLUE SO DARK (Booklist starred review, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medal recipient) as well as PLAYING HURT (both YAs). 

Her debut MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, also released in ’14, and became a favorite of teachers and librarians, who used the book as a read-aloud.  Kirkus Reviews called THE JUNCTION “...a heartwarming and uplifting story...[that] shines...with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.” 

FERAL is Schindler’s third YA and first psychological thriller.  Publishers Weekly gave FERAL a starred review, stating, “Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler’s third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A BLUE SO DARK…This time, the focus is on women’s voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking…This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees.”

Schindler encourages readers to get in touch.  Booksellers, teen librarians, and teachers can also contact her directly regarding Skype visits. 
She can be reached at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com, and can also be found at,, @holly_schindler,, and

FERAL Trailer:

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Rafflecopter form for a giveaway of a signed hardcover of FERAL (running from September 3 – September 17):


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