Katherine Webber on her mysterious new YA novel, The Revelry
"I love exploring female friendships, so that was really satisfying to write about."
To celebrate the release of her mysterious and gripping new YA novel, The Revelry, we caught up with Katherine Webber to chat all things writing inspirations, friendships, co-writing and more.
Hi Katherine, we’re so excited to have you here today to chat all about your new YA novel, The Revelry! For readers just hearing about it, what would you say to try and entice them to pick up a copy?
Hi! Thank you so much for having me on United By Pop. The Revelry is about two friends who live in a mysterious town Ember Grove, a place full of strange traditions and eerie superstitions, and the most important one of all is The Revelry itself, an annual secret party in the woods. When the two friends sneak in before they are meant to, the consequences are huge. Suddenly it seems like the fates of the two friends are intertwined, and when good luck comes to one, bad luck curses the other. The book explores the power of secrets and superstitions, as well as friendship and loyalty. But what I think readers will enjoy the most is discovering the truth about The Revelry along with the characters themselves.
The concept for The Revelry intrigued me from the moment you announced its release. Can you tell us a little bit about the inspirations behind it?
Thank you! I’ve toyed with the idea of two friends whose luck is intertwined for a long time, but I couldn’t figure out how to best execute it so the book took me years to write, and get right. I’m fascinated by friendship dynamics, and especially how things can change. I was curious about the concept of what you would do, what you would give up, for your best friend. What if their happiness cost you? Would it be worth it? Would you start to resent them? In my real life relationships, I try to approach everything with a mindset of abundance – there is plenty of luck and happiness and love for everyone, and if something good happens to a friend of mine it is something to be celebrated. But for the characters in The Revelry, especially Bitsy the main character, I explored into how easy it can be to fall into jealousy and competitiveness. And then I took it a step further with the concept of the intertwined fates on a luck scale– what would it look like it wasn’t just in your head that someone’s good fortune meant less for you, what if it really was happening for some reason beyond your control. At its heart, The Revelry is about female friendship and how powerful, complicated, and beautiful it can be. And setting it in a mysterious town, with traditions like the Revelry itself, gave me the freedom to explore these concepts in a really fun way.
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In The Revelry, the protagonist, Bitsy, is convinced she’s been bonded to her best friend by a curse. If you were to find yourself in a cursed bond with a character from any of your books, who would you choose and why?
I love this question! I think I’d want to have a curse bond with one of the dragons in my middle grade series, Dragon Mountain. Dragons are extremely wise and powerful, so I know they would be able to figure out how to break the curse.
The Revelry isn’t your only 2022 YA release, with Twin Crowns, which you co-authored with Catherine Doyle, releasing this spring. How does it feel knowing two of your stories will be making their way into the hands of readers very soon?
It is equally exciting and terrifying! I hope readers love both books. The Revelry and Twin Crowns are very different— while it has some slight fantastical elements The Revelry is very much grounded in real life, while Twin Crowns is a full on fantasy adventure, set in a totally imagined world with magic and witches. The Revelry also focuses on female friendship, and while friendship is a strong part of Twin Crowns (and is always an important part of anything I write) it also has much more of a romance storyline. It was important to me that the focus of The Revelry was the friendship, and that there was tension between the friends that wasn’t about them fighting over a boy or anything like that. Other than the genre, the biggest difference between the two is of course that Twin Crowns is co-written and has alternating perspectives, one written by me and one by my co-author and friend Catherine Doyle.
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From friendships to mysteries to curses, there are so many exciting elements within The Revelry. Did you have a favourite aspect to explore whilst writing?
I love exploring female friendships, so that was really satisfying to write about. And I loved creating the eerie traditions of Ember Grove. I’ve always been drawn to woodlands, so I loved setting the book in a mysterious town with an even more mysterious wood. The hardest part for me was the mystery element, I’m not a natural mystery writer, but luckily I had a really excellent editor, Non Pratt, who helped me figure out how to make the mystery element of the story work.
Finally, since we’ve recently welcomed in the new year, it seems only right that we ask you to share your favourite 2021 YA read and your most anticipated 2022 read.
Oh this is SUCH a hard question! But also I fun one. I read so many great things in 2021 but one of my absolute favorite 2021 reads, and one that actually goes along quite nicely with The Revelry, is House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland. Krystal is an amazing writer, and House of Hollow is deliciously dark and equally creepy and gorgeous. And for 2022, one of my most anticipated reads is The King is Dead by Benjamin Dean. It is his YA debut, and it is pitched as a ‘Black LGBTQ+ royal romp full of romance, scandalous secrets, and one hell of a mystery’. I love his MG, and I think he’s hilarious, so I know The King is Dead is going to be fantastic.
Get your copy of The Revelry by Katherine Webber here.