I’m excited to participate in the blog tour for Sarah Jude’s The May Queen Murders!
For my blog tour stop, Sarah Jude did a guest post! I asked about her literary influences, because it seems as though, between the Tennyson epigraph and the allusions to thematic elements in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” I was interested to read about what literary elements influenced her writing.
Here is her response!
In looking back at how I wrote THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS and what literary influences helped bring about the story, it’s a book that began with my late mother. She was a gifted storyteller, not a writer, but a wordsmith nonetheless. I distinctly recall her reading Poe’s short stories to me when I was no older than five. My mother had a love of all things dark and mysterious, and she very much passed down that affinity to me.
I’ve long loved Poe and other poets like Keats and Coleridge. I have volumes of work by Tennyson and T.S. Eliot (who I first knew because of the musical “Cats” and then grew up to love his other pieces). Amy Lowell was an imagist poet near the turn of the Twentieth Century, and her collection SWORD BLADES AND POPPY SEED is one of my favorites. These poets use rhythm and imagery while employing an economy of words. They taught me how to be descriptive without bogging down the narrative. Many write allusions to classical tales, which give a sense of familiarity. Lyrical writing appeals to me because both of my parents were musicians. I play several instruments, so I tend to write to the beat of my internal metronome. This also in part influenced Ivy’s mild speech impediment, which is the same impediment my daughter has dealt with.
I studied Gothics and was a criminology minor in college, so it’s not a surprise, given my mother’s influence, that I write murder mysteries, folklore, and somewhat bizarre rituals. I like the ordinary and mundane, which have an insidious underbelly. It’s characteristic of Southern Gothic writing where even the best character is flawed. I’ve digested a lot of Shirley Jackson, Flannery O’Connor, and Tennessee Williams in that regard.
When you put these two things together—poetic language and themes of Americana, murder, and mystery, that’s where you find me sitting on the porch with my guitar and singing old folk shanties commonly called murder ballads. “Down in the Willow Garden” is an old song that had a direct influence on THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS and parts of it appear in the book.
It’s safe to say I’m a bit of an omnivore in my influences, gathering bits from oral tradition, classic poems, songs, and Gothics, and I’m just as influenced by my location in the heartland of the country. You could say I’m a Midwestern Gothic, a nice mother of three children who teaches Sunday school and writes about what’s truly buried beneath the vegetable garden.
About the Book:
Title: THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS
Author: Sarah Jude
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Sarah Jude lives by the woods and has an owl that lands on her chimney every night. She grew up believing you had to hold your breath whenever you passed a graveyard or a bridge spanning water. Now she writes about cemeteries, murder, and ghostly apparitions. She resides in Missouri with her husband, three children, and three dogs.