Blog Tour: Dead Beautiful - Q&A with Yvonne Woon

Yvonne WoonToday, we are hosting a stop on the blog tour for an amazing book, Dead Beautiful, by Yvonne Woon!
I loved this book and couldn't put it down so I was excited to be able to ask the author some questions!

The book will be published by Usborne on 1st May and you can see my review of it later on today!!

Dead Beautiful (Dead Beautiful, #1)Could you explain a little for anyone who hasn't yet read the book, why Latin is such an important element of the story?
At the beginning of the book, Renee is sent to a boarding school called Gottfried Academy, which has a strange, classical curriculum. She takes classes like philosophy, horticulture and Latin, though she soon discovers that some students are much better at Latin than others. Her boyfriend, Dante, for example, is practically fluent. Latin is also engraved over the archways of the buildings, so it sort of haunts her all the time. All she knows is that it’s a dead language, and that is somehow ties all of the mysteries at the school together. I don’t want to say anything more because it might spoil the ending!

Why did you choose to use Latin over a different dead language?
I like how Latin is hidden everywhere – in our medical jargon and legal language, in our school mottos and degree names. Even a lot of the phrases we toss around in casual conversation are actually abbreviated Latin. So in that way, it seemed both dead yet still very much alive. I thought that it was perfect for Gottfried.

Where did the inspiration come from to use Latin?
I was actually doing research in the university library for one of my classes, when I looked up and noticed a huge Latin phrase engraved over the doorway of the room. I knew I had to use it in Gottfried.

How familiar were you with Latin before writing Dead Beautiful?
Not very.  I had learned a little about its construction and history in school, but never took a formal course on it. I was, however, trained in other languages, and knew a good deal about how languages worked and differed from each other in construction. So I wasn’t totally in the dark.

Was a lot of research involved?
Sort of. When I decided to incorporate Latin, I tried to teach it to myself (why I thought this was possible, I still don’t know!), and then did just enough research to be able to write about it without sounding totally wrong. But the great thing about fiction is that you can make things up, so I took what I knew and its history and structure, and elaborated.

The majority of your readers will not have any experience with Latin. How did you work it into the story without it being overpowering and still understandable?
Thanks! Sadly, I can’t really take credit for that, because like many readers, I, too have very little experience with Latin. So explaining too much or speaking in complicated terms was never even possible for me to do, as my understanding of Latin is very limited.

Will the strong use of Latin continue in other books in the series?
It will come back a little in the second book, Life Eternal, though Renee and Dante’s story actually takes a few strange turns, and they end up in a slightly different setting, which involves a lot of French.

Do you have any personal favourite sayings either in Latin or that come from Latin?
I like the phrase ‘homo unius libri’, which means ‘the man of one book’. Or more literally, the man of only one idea. It was historically known as an insult to be a person of only one dogma.

Thanks so much Yvonne!

Please come back later on in the day to see what I thought about Dead Beautiful!!

3 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this book and I thought the use of Latin was genious. It made me want to go out and learn it so job well done Yvonne!

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  2. Latin is definitely THE language to learn! I am really looking forward to the release of this book. I've had it on pre-order for a long while :)

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  3. I cannot wait to read this. I adore latin - it is used loads in aromatherpay, such a pretty yet archaic language

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