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  • The Book Goat

Erin A. Craig: House of Salt and Sorrows


Hello, August! Are you (or your kids) going back to school? Well, here are a bunch of books to cheer you up!

House of Salt and Sorrows

by Erin A. Craig

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls' lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn't sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh's involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it's a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

August 6th, 2019

Introduce yourself and your debut novel!

I’m Erin A. Craig, author of HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS, publishing from Delacorte Press on August 6th. I live in Memphis, TN with my husband, daughter, and our crazy enormous collection of Grizzlies basketball swag, books, and typewriters. HOSAS is a Gothic reimaging of ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’ set on an isolated island estate. Annaleigh Thaumas must discover what’s behind the mysterious curse which seems to be targeting her sisters and stop it before she becomes its next victim. It’s full of long, creepy corridors, beautiful gossamer gowns, and salt-tinged sea air.

What’s the most surprising part about your debut journey so far?

I’ve been absolutely floored by the amount of love and support HOSAS has gotten from Delacorte. Before all of this, I had some rough notion that a book was bought and worked on with the author and editor and then it just… was a book. There are so many moving parts, whole departments I’d never really pondered before. When I had my marketing meeting—where we went through all of the plans and details about what would happen during the months leading up to the launch date—I got to sit in on the call with all the department heads and it was so glorious knowing what an amazing team HOSAS has, tirelessly working towards this creepy little story’s success. I couldn’t ask for a better group of rockstars!

Give a shout-out to a fellow debut!

I have been salivating for Sara Faring’s THE TENTH GIRL. It’s got Gothic boarding school vibes and the cover gives me the most delicious shivers! It was an instant pre-order for me and I just know I’m going to impatiently tackle the mailman come September 24th!


How long did it take you to write this book?

HOSAS is absolutely the fastest book I’ve ever written! I started world building in June of 2017 to prepare for my first Camp Nanowrimo in July. I hit my camp goal of 30,000 words and just kept speed drafting. I knew there was a #PitDark twitter contest at the end of October and wanted to have my draft ready for it. I finished it October 2nd and did a few tweaks before the pitch contest. My tweet blew up that day and by early November I had offers of rep from five agents and the rest is history. Sometimes writing can seem like such a slog, sometimes it’s a whirlwind!


Describe your main character in 3 words.

Annaleigh Thaumas is level-headed, tender-hearted, and kind.


What was the hardest scene to write?

The House of Seven Moon chapters gave me such grief! Of all the book, they’ve gone through the biggest changes and I think because of that, every time I got to that abbey, I could feel myself wince! It’s such a beautiful location and I loved creating the world for it but ooooh, so much work went into its plot points and reveals!

Describe your writing space.

I have the coolest office at home with a big window and beautifully framed art prints and a killer typewriter keyboard that I adore and I absolutely never use it! I wrote most of HOSAS in the rocking chair in my daughter’s nursery, sometimes in a series of battered notebooks, sometimes on my phone in the middle of the night—let me tell you, NOTHING is freakier than writing a ghost scene at three in the morning, in a pitch black nursery, and glancing up to see the glowing, disembodied eyes of a giant Cookie Monster doll glaring at you from across the room!


Now that she’s a toddler, most of my writing is either done early in the morning in bed or in the afternoon on the couch. Once she’s in kindergarten (ugh, too soon to think about—sob!) I envision using my office more and more, but for now, I love being able to sneak in little ten or fifteen minute sprints between blowing bubbles in the backyard and reading stacks of picture books!


How do you select character names?

While HOSAS is a ‘Twelve Dancing Princesses’ retelling, it was also equally inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Annabel Lee.’ In an homage to its Gothic roots, nearly all of the female characters are named after Poe heroines or other women who played a significant part in his life. The only exceptions that come to mind are the youngest sisters, The Graces. It was common in Victorian times to name girls after virtues, so Honor, Mercy, and Verity were named with that in mind.


What book or author has most influenced your own writing?

I firmly believe I wouldn’t be so drawn to retellings if it had not been for Robin McKinley’s BEAUTY. It’s far and away my most tattered book from childhood, endlessly reread and loved. I remember the first time I spotted it and was shocked there was a WHOLE BOOK telling ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ Not a handful of paragraphs or even a short story tucked into a fairytale collection—it was an entire book! I LOVED truly getting to know Beauty and getting to experience the story with all its gorgeous, shimmery details and subplots. I started writing out retellings of my own not long after stumbling across it!


If you could only buy one book this year, which book would it be?

Only one?! So cruel! I have utterly adored Erin Hahn’s YOU’D BE MINE. I read the ARC and immediately pre-ordered two copies of it because my mom was visiting on its release day and I knew she’d want to read it too and wouldn’t want to wait! (I was totally right on that!) It’s fun and hopeful and just so beautiful real. I loved Annie and Clay’s stories and their tour made me long for the days when I was on stage managing on the road!


Share an aesthetic!


Thanks for interviewing, Erin! I can't wait to check out your book on 8/6/19!

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