Students Want to Know Robin Bridges

Robin Bridges, author of The Gathering StormNecromancy, historical fiction, tzars, and romance?!  Count me in!  Robin Bridges is the 2012 debut author of The Gathering Storm.  I told my students about the book, showed them the book trailer, and one of them read The Gathering Storm before composing questions for Robin Bridges.  Quite a few of my students were intrigued by the trailer and started asking me lots of questions about necromancy and tzars.  Thankfully my students will get some of their answers today!  Thank you, Robin, for participating with us!

Summary of The Gathering Storm (From Goodreads): St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.

An evil presence is growing within Europe’s royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina’s strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar’s standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina’s help to safeguard Russia, even if he’s repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.

The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?

** Robin Bridges’ Website **
** Follow Robin on Twitter **
** The Gathering Storm released on January 10th **


  • In the beginning, why did you introduce so many characters all at once?
    TGS has a large cast of characters, so I had to introduce them in groups- first Katerina, then her school mates, then the members of the Imperial Courts at the Smolni ball.
  • Between George and Danilo, who do you like better?
    Ha!  I really am fond of each of these boys, for different reasons.  George is stubborn and quiet, but has a strong sense of duty, both to his father and to his country. Danilo is mischievous and suave, but his loyalty is only to himself.  As an eldest son, he’s been spoiled much more by his family than George.
  • What are your top five favorite books?
    Ack, just 5?  The first ones that come to mind are:
    Pride and Prejudice (both with and without zombies),
    Anna Karenina,
    Howl’s Moving Castle,
    The Scorpio Races,
    Good Omens


  • Have you ever been to Russia?
    Not yet!  But hopefully within the next year or two.  I have a long list of palaces and museums that I’d like to see there.
  • Do you enjoy history?
    Definitely.  I’m always interested in learning about different time periods.

Zach H:

  • How did you come up with the idea of blending the supernatural with historical fiction?
    I love reading historical fiction with supernatural or fantastic elements:  Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy, Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan series, and Sorcery and Cecelia (or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot) by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer.


  • How do you become a necromancer?
    In Katerina’s case, it was an ability she was born with.  But there are dark spells and rituals that only the most powerful mages or sorcerers can use.
  • Why is necromancy scorned?
    Katerina hates her ability because she’s afraid it makes her a bad person.  Bringing the dead back to life upsets the balance of nature.  And it’s a nasty, dirty type of magic- something the fashionable fae of Saint Petersburg look down their noses at.  It has nothing to do with glamour or romance. 

Students Want to Know Caroline Starr Rose

My students and I enjoyed getting to know the Class of 2K11 and the Elevensies, so we’re very excited to meet the Class of 2K12!  To kick off the new year of debut authors, my students interview Caroline Starr Rose, the author of May B.  Her book released last month, so make sure to look for a copy!

Summary of May B. (From Goodreads):

I’ve known it since last night:
It’s been too long to expect them to return.
Something’s happened.

May is helping out on a neighbor’s Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it’s hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May’s memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her. But she’s determined to find her way home again. Caroline Starr Rose’s fast-paced novel, written in beautiful and riveting verse, gives readers a strong new heroine to love.

** Caroline Starr Rose’s Website **

** Caroline Starr Rose is on Facebook **

** Follow Caroline Starr Rose’s Blog **

Nicole B:

  • Why did you decide to write May B. in verse?

Don’t tell anyone, but I’d only read two verse novels before writing my own. May B. didn’t start as verse. I was very frustrated with the distance between what I wanted to write and what ended up on the page. When I returned to my research, I noticed there were patterns in pioneer women’s writing. Much of it was matter-of-fact and spare. There was a similar tone used whether someone was writing about the laundry or a death in the family. Seeing this really showed me how to write my story.

It was in mimicking the voices of real frontier women that I stumbled into verse and found the most authentic way to speak for May and share her world.


  • How did you feel when you saw your book on shelves for the first time?

My book came out the same day as John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. My local bookstore had dozens of copies of his book on the same shelf as mine! It was completely surreal to see my book in the first place, but to see it next to the likes of John Green? Unbelievable.

Jessica P:

  • Why did you choose the prairie as the setting for the book?

I grew up on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books and have always been struck by how strong and courageous frontier women were in the midst of their everyday lives. I wanted to dig into that world. I also wanted to write about solitude and was curious how to write a story where for most of the story the main character is alone. The prairie is often described in literature as this open, endless, vast place. I thought it would be interesting to examine being closed off — as May is when trapped in her snow-covered soddy — in the middle of this vast expanse. The contrast intrigued me.

Mackenzie B:

  • What’s your most & least favorite ice cream?

I’ve rarely met an ice cream flavor I didn’t like, though I’d have to say the ones with toxic-looking neon colors gross me out. Anything with peanut butter is an instant favorite. I also love peppermint ice cream covered in hot fudge.

May B. with John Green!

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