The Keeper of the Mist
by Rachel Neumeier
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 8th 2016
by Rachel Neumeier
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 8th 2016
A lush new fantasy about finding the will to lead against all odds, perfect for fans of Shadow and Bone.
Keri has been struggling to run her family bakery since her mother passed away. Now the father she barely knew—the Lord of Nimmira—has died, and ancient magic has decreed that she will take his place as the new Lady. The position has never been so dangerous: the mists that hide Nimmira from its vicious, land-hungry neighbors have failed, and Keri’s people are visible to strangers for the first time since the mists were put in place generations ago. At the same time, three half-brothers will their own eyes on the crown make life within the House just as dangerous as the world outside.
But Keri has three people to guide her: her mysterious Timekeeper, clever Bookkeeper, and steadfast Doorkeeper. Together they must find a way to repair the boundary before her neighbors realize just how vulnerable Nimmira is.
With a spunky main character, lyrical storytelling, and hidden romance, The Keeper of the Mist is an engrossing story that is full of adventure.
Hello Rachel! We are super excited to have you in our FFBC tours.
I’m so pleased to be here! Thanks so much for inviting me to participate!
Just one? Wow, that’s tough.
Yet my mind immediately leaped to The Book of Atrix Wolfe by Patricia McKillip. I think McKillip is the finest fantasy author writing today. She exemplifies the subgenre of lyrical fantasy, where the language so beautiful, it’s like putting a baroque, gilded frame around an equally lovely picture.
The Book of Atrix Wolfe offers possibly the single most perfect final line of any book I’ve ever read. Don’t skip to the end to see what it is, though. You won’t get the impact of that line unless you’ve read the book before you get to it.
Favorite TV show?
I have practically stopped watching TV in order to free up more time for reading. But even if I’d watched every single show in the past five years, I’m sure my favorite would still be Firefly.
Oh, maybe The Hunt for Red October. Sean Connery is wonderful in that movie, which as far as I’m concerned is one of the very, very few movies that is better than the novel.
Your Favorite Song?
At the moment, I’m playing “Resurrection” by Max Van Richter (a pseudonym for Paul Lawler) almost nonstop. That’s an instrumental piece, though. For a song with lyrics I really fell in love with, perhaps “Say Something” by A Great Big World.
I enjoy cooking and usually don’t make the same thing more than once or twice a year, so it’s hard to say that I have a favorite food. I made a pretty awesome Indonesian rendang earlier this year: beef braised slowly in lots and lots of coconut milk.
Name 3 fictional places you would move to in a heartbeat.
Well, many fictional places would be pretty terrifying places to actually live, so that’s tough. Also, I’m not at all sure I’d want to give up modern conveniences like washers and dryers, which makes me hesitate about almost all fantasy settings.
But I do have a childhood fondness for Narnia. Talking horses! And of course all the other talking animals. If I found the back of a wardrobe opening to Narnia, I would undoubtedly step through.
The world of Sharon Shinn’s Elemental Blessings series offers a country that is sort of on the cusp of a kinder, gentler Industrial Revolution. It would be an exciting place and time to live, and for various reasons the country in question isn’t likely to be conquered by its scarier neighbors.
A compelling high-tech world is offered by Andrea K Höst’s Touchstone trilogy – that one has psychic space ninjas as well as advanced technology. It might be a great place to live, especially at the end of the trilogy when the major threats have been vanquished and a new world opened up for settlement.
Who is your perfect fictional boyfriend?
Stepping outside of SFF entirely, I have to pick Dominique Richard from The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand. He’d be a wonderful boyfriend . . . and he could totally feed me the best chocolates in the world.
And then, at night, the lit lamp and the drawn curtain, with the flutter of the turned page and soft scrape of pen on paper the only sounds to break the silence between quarter- and quarter-chime.
From Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers
What do you find yourself “Fangirling” over?
The Foreigner series by CJ Cherryh. That is an awesome series, a tremendous accomplishment.
If you could meet one author, dead or alive, who would it be?
CJ Cherryh. Who knows, maybe I will meet her one day. I would probably be pretty tongue-tied, though.
Could you tell our Book Addicts a little bit about The Keeper of the Mist?
This is a coming-of-age story, where Keri has to find her reserves of courage and determination in order to protect her land and her friends. It’s also a story about the importance of reaching outside your ordinary boundaries to accept friendship. The story includes a touch of romance, a touch of whimsy, and puppets.
Can you describe the world in The Keeper of the Mist?
I was aiming for something of a fairy-tale feel for this story, one in which the land of Nimmira is saturated in magic. We also get a look at one of the neighboring countries, which also turns out to be saturated in magic . . . in a very different and more disturbing way. Nimmira is almost a Shangri-la type of place, but its existence is precarious and depends on never quite being noticed.
Can you describe Keri? What would you say are her best qualities?
Having been tossed into a situation for which she is unprepared, Keri constantly feels like she’s totally winging it. But when she has to make a fast decision, she can do that, too. She’s also a surprisingly down-to-Earth sort of girl, considering how she’s been thrown into a very fairy-tale sort of situation.
How did you come up with the story? Did you find inspiration in any other story/movie/show and how has this affected your writing?
Here’s something no one is going to realize: I was thinking of Robin McKinley’s Chalice when I started writing The Keeper of the Mist. I had certain similar worldbuilding elements in mind at the start, and ways to riff off certain plot points. The reason no one is going to be able to guess that, though, is that nearly all of those elements and plot points vanished while I was writing the story. Almost the only resemblance now is the isolation of Nimmira, which is sort of similar to the self-contained demesne of McKinley’s story.
Along with Chalice by Robin McKinley, I think I must have had the ending of Patricia McKillip’s Alphabet of Thorn in the back of my mind. Again, there’s almost no resemblance between the two books . . . except I was probably thinking of Tessera’s declaration “I know how to hide” when I developed Nimmira and its world.
I’m sure both of those novels would have suggested a fairy-tale tone for The Keeper of the Mist.
Tell us your favorite quote from The Keeper of the Mist.
A lot of tidbits would contain spoilers. But how about this:
The crystal pendulum was sharp as a knife, cutting time into neat little slices. The clock’s face was blank. The hands moved across a stark white face with no marks for minutes or hours or days, no delicate little inlaid signs for the years. But the sharp pendulum swung anyway, counting down . . . something.
Is there a specific scene that you had the most fun to write?
I nearly always especially enjoy the denouement, and that was the case for this story, too. After the tension of the climactic scenes, I enjoy the calm of the ending.
If you had to pick one song to be the Theme Song for The Keeper of the Mist – Which one would you pick?
Enya’s “China Roses”
Imagine that we get to see your book on the big screen (how awesome would that be?). Who would you pick to play your characters?
There are a whole bunch of important characters, so I’ll limit myself to just casting four of the most important:
Perhaps Sophie Turner to play Keri. But not all glammed up, because Keri is definitely more a girl-next-door kind of pretty.
Then definitely someone glamorous to play Tassel, someone who can pull off a delicate kind of beauty. Maybe Dove Cameron.
Cort is impatient, irritable, and absolutely solid. Zac Efron might make a good Cort.
And for the Timekeeper, you really need an intimidating actor – the kind of man who never smiles, but if he does, you want to take a step backward. Maybe Willem Dafoe.
Is there any recommendations you could give your readers to be in the “perfect mood” to read The Keeper of the Mist (specific music, snacks…)?
I always think dark chocolate goes with everything.
What’s next for you?
I actually have a lot going on in the near future. My adult fantasy The Mountain of Kept Memory will hit the shelves Nov. 8th and another YA fantasy called The White Road of the Moon will come out next spring, then another adult fantasy that fall.
I also hope to publish the next set of short stories in the Black Dog universe this summer and the third novel in the series, Shadow Twin, sometime this year or early next year.
But what I’m actually working on right now is a science fiction space opera, which is a bit of a departure for me, although I’ve been playing around with the concept for several years.
Something to say to our Book Addicts?
I’m pretty sure you can’t be addicted to books any more than you can be addicted to oxygen. Books are like the air we breathe: a necessary environment for life.
Thank you so much for everything, Rachel!
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Rachel Neumeier started writing fiction to relax when she was a graduate student and needed a hobby unrelated to her research. Prior to selling her first fantasy novel, she had published only a few articles in venues such as The American Journal of Botany. However, finding that her interests did not lie in research, Rachel left academia and began to let her hobbies take over her life instead.
She now raises and shows dogs, gardens, cooks, and occasionally finds time to read. She works part-time for a tutoring program, though she tutors far more students in Math and Chemistry than in English Composition.