I’m excited to tell you about a new title Hyperion is releasing on October 9th, 2012. If you enjoy historical fiction and/or books based on true stories, then you’ll want to check out Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh. I hope you like the guest post as much I do!
Summary (From Goodreads):
Is it written in the stars from the moment we are born?
Or is it a bendable thing that we can shape with our own hands?
Jepp of Astraveld needs to know.
He left his countryside home on the empty promise of a stranger, only to become a captive in a luxurious prison: Coudenberg Palace, the royal court of the Spanish Infanta. Nobody warned Jepp that as a court dwarf, daily injustices would become his seemingly unshakable fate. If the humiliations were his alone, perhaps he could endure them; but it breaks Jepp’s heart to see his friend Lia suffer.
After Jepp and Lia attempt a daring escape from the palace, Jepp is imprisoned again, alone in a cage. Now, spirited across Europe in a kidnapper’s carriage, Jepp fears where his unfortunate stars may lead him. But he can’t even begin to imagine the brilliant and eccentric new master–a man devoted to uncovering the secrets of the stars–who awaits him. Or the girl who will help him mend his heart and unearth the long-buried secrets of his past.
Masterfully written, grippingly paced, and inspired by real historical characters, “Jepp, Who Defied the Stars “is the tale of an extraordinary hero and his inspiring quest to become the master of his own destiny.
Greetings, YA Love readers and thank you, Sarah!
From the time I was a kid, I’ve always loved history—in part because there are so many strange, yet true, stories that really happened. My new novel, Jepp, Who Defied the Stars, is based on a bunch of odd yet real stories from the 16thcentury. I discovered the character of Jepp when I was reading about the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. Brahe was one of the most accomplished stargazers of his day but he was also a very odd guy. He lived on an isolated island where he’d built his own futuristic castle, wore a copper nose (he lost his real one in a duel) and kept a beer-drinking moose as a pet. He also had a dwarf jester named Jepp.
When I was a kid, I was fascinated by the paintings of dwarfs who lived at royal courts, serving as attendants and entertainers. They were both insiders, who saw the inner workings of the court, and outsiders, whose physical differences marked them as “others.” But there was almost nothing in the historical record about Jepp beyond that he was Brahe’s jester and sat at his feet. I decided to give him a story, one based on the real lives of court dwarfs.
I was lucky to find two great sources of historical material to draw from. The first was a fascinating book called The Lives of Dwarfs: Their Journey from Public Curiosity toward Social Liberation by Betty Adelson. Adelson’s comprehensive and fascinating history enlightened me to the indignities that many court dwarfs suffered. Both treasured as possessions and treated as playthings, they were dressed up as birds and animals, forced to put on mock weddings, and even hidden in pies so they could burst out to surprise the court (an act that Jepp ends up having to perform).
My second source was Diego Velazquez, a 17th century Spanish artist who painted a series of portraits of court dwarfs. It was these paintings that intrigued me as a kid and if you take a look at Las Meninas or Portrait of Sebastian de Morra you can see why. Velazquez captures the dignity, intelligence, and even anger of his dwarf subjects. His paintings gave me a window into how Jepp, and the court dwarfs he interacts with in my story, must have felt about their lives and treatment.
Finally, after I had written a draft of my book, I gave it to a reader who also happens to be a dwarf. I wanted to make sure he found my portrayal accurate. There were so many things I wanted to get right—for example, the daily challenges of navigating a world constructed for people several feet taller. My reader not only gave me confidence in my portrayal of Jepp but helped me nail down such details as whether childbirth and mobility can be issues for dwarfs (answer: they can).
The amazing thing I discovered as I wrote Jepp’s story is that his life as a court dwarf has a lot of similarities with that of an average 21st century teenager. The feeling of people thinking they know you because of what you look like. The feeling of being an outsider. The feeling of the world underestimating you. Even the feeling of finding people who are like you and how intense those friendships and relationships can be. Jepp’s story is ultimately less the tale of a court dwarf, than a universal tale about finding friends, falling in love and ultimately growing up to be the person you want to be.
About the Author
For more, check out katherinemarsh.com or follow me on twitter @MarshKatherine or on facebook/katherinemarshauthor
Bio: I’m the author of the upcoming historical YA novel Jepp, Who Defied the Stars (out October 9th!), the Edgar-award winning The Night Tourist, and a sequel, The Twilight Prisoner (read if you like ghosts, New York City history, and Greek myths).
A few interesting facts about me: I used to write for Rolling Stone magazine, I’ve been a high school English teacher, and I have no sense of direction—thank god for the invention of the GPS!
Open to the United States & Canada only.
Must be 13 years or older.
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Giveaway ends October 12th, 2012 at 11:59 pm EST.
Winners will be contacted via email and/or Twitter.