As a reader who has been enjoying middle grade books I’m always on the lookout for new releases. That’s when I stumbled upon The Wolf’s Curse by Jessica Vitalis. This book releases September 21st and is a grim reaper retelling! I had the honor to interview the author. So keep on reading to find out more about the book and author!
“The path ahead isn’t easy. It will be filled with darkness and despair, and you will almost certainly regret your decision, just as I regret mine.”
~Narrator, The Wolf’s Curse
Twelve-year-old Gauge’s life has been cursed since the day he witnessed a Great White Wolf steal his grandpapá’s soul, preventing it from reaching the Sea-in-the-Sky and sailing into eternity. When the superstitious residents of Bouge-by-the-Sea accuse the boy of crying wolf, he joins forces with another orphan to prove his innocence. They navigate their shared grief in a journey that ultimately reveals life-changing truths about the wolf––and death. Narrated in a voice reminiscent of The Book Thief and Lemony Snicket, this fast-paced adventure is perfect for fans of literary fiction fantasy such as A Wish in the Dark and The Girl Who Drank the Moon.
What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always been a writer, but it wasn’t until college that I realized writing a book was something I might actually be able to do (one of my professors had written a book, and he invited me to write an essay for his next edition). Shortly after I graduated, I sent my professor several pages of a memoir, but it was so bad he never responded (I can’t blame him—it really was that bad!). It was several years before I tried again; the memoir that resulted didn’t end up going anywhere, but around that time I read Kit’s Wilderness by David Almond and realized writing middle grade literature was my calling.
What is your all-time favorite book? Why?
My answer to this question changes constantly, but right now I’m going to say Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. The writing is gorgeous and the characters pitch-perfect; besides that, it’s one of the most emotionally resonant books I’ve ever read.
What recent books do you think everyone needs to read?
How much time do you have? There is so much fantastic middle grade literature being created these days (that readers of all ages will enjoy)! Starfish by Lisa Fipps is a powerful story of one girl learning not to let her size—or anyone’s opinion––define who she is. The Many Meanings of Meilan by Andrea Wang is a wonderful story about finding yourself when you’re trapped between two cultures (that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt like they don’t fit in). And for a fun, creepy read, I highly recommend Scary Story for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker.
Describe your book in five words or less:
Macabre, sweet Grim Reaper retelling.
What is your favorite quote from The Wolf’s Curse?
“Follow your heart. It’s as true as any compass out there.”
What do you hope readers will take away from this story?
I think often when we’re in the midst of grief and loss, we feel like it will never end. It’s my hope that after reading The Wolf’s Curse, readers carry with them the idea that there’s always room for hope and healing.
If you were a character in The Wolf’s Curse, what kind of character would you be?
I hope I’d be a character very much like Roux: strong and practical with a heart of gold. In reality, I’d probably also have a bit of the Wolf’s snark.
About the Author
JESSICA VITALIS is a Columbia MBA-wielding writer. After leaving home at 16, Vitalis explored several careers before turning her talents to middle grade literature. She brings her experience growing up in a nontraditional childhood to her stories, exploring themes such as death and grief, domestic violence, and socio-economic disparities. With a mission to write entertaining and thought-provoking literature, she often includes magic and fantastical settings. As an active volunteer in the kidlit community, she’s also passionate about using her privilege to lift up other voices. In addition to volunteering with We Need Diverse Books and Pitch Wars, she founded Magic in the Middle, a series of free monthly recorded book talks, to help educators introduce young readers to new stories. She was recently named a 2021 Canada Council of the Arts Grant Recipient. An American expat, she now lives in Canada with her husband and two precocious daughters. She loves traveling, sailing and scuba diving, but when she’s at home, she can usually be found reading a book or changing the batteries in her heated socks.
The Wolf’s Curse sounds amazing and after reading Jessica’s answers I’m even more excited. Keep on an eye on the blog, because my review of The Wolf’s Curse will be online a bit closer to release day!