Meet the literary agent behind dark fairytale SiSterS Of the Winter WOOd
Tell us about your protagonists.
Liba is connected to her home, religion and family. She discovers she can turn into a bear like her father. Laya is flighty and unsure what she believes – she turns into a swan, like their mother. When strange men come to town, the girls need to save themselves.
What folklore does the book draw on?
It’s a retelling of Christina Rossetti’s “goblin Market” poem. I drew upon Jewish/Hassidic and Russian/Ukrainian folklore about bear-men and swan maidens, and looked to the Jewish tale of the Shpoler Zaydie, who danced in a bear skin to save other Jews.
What did you find out during your research?
I discovered the town of Dubossary on the border of Moldova and Ukraine, where my great-grandfather came from. In 1903 the Jews fought back and a pogrom never happened there – that was when I knew where I would set my tale.
You’re a foodie – did that feed into the book in any way?
yes! My first published book was a cookbook! I wanted to incorporate food from my own culture – challah, babka, rugelach, gefilte fish, borscht, brisket, cholent – not the foods you find in most fantasy novels!
Sisters Of The Winter Wood is published on 27 September.