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Friday, February 14, 2014

Culture Clash ~ guest post & giveaway from Marie Rutkoski, author of The Winner's Curse

So, you guys have probably heard me talk about the fantasticness that is The Winner's Curse, the first book in a new series from Marie Rutkoski. I've kinda been talking about it a lot. This, of course, makes me super happy to be sharing that love* with you today as part of the blog tour for the book!

I asked Marie a couple of impossible questions that show how much I really just want to sit down and discuss this book with someone, and Marie graciously played along and attempted to pick apart and discuss one of the things that fascinated me most about The Winner's Curse, which is the massive culture clash going on.

Check out her post below, and then enter to win an awesome TWC prize pack! And make sure to stop by tomorrow for my full thoughts on this fab new book!

*Get it? 'Cause it's St. Valentine's Day? Get it? ...okay, I'm done.

The Herrani are known for their Culture (music, art, etc), and the Valorians (of the story, at least) are decidedly not - they're a young culture, settling atop the remains of one that's been settled and rooted in this place for years, and because of this, the Valorians are surrounded by examples of what their culture seems to lack (something they don't much seem to prize; rooms devoted to music and a completely different style of living, rooms/uses for things they can't begin to understand, because it's so far removed from their own style of life). How did this impact how you wrote the Valorians? How does it effect them as a people, living their lives atop the remains of someone else's?
 [see? told you I asked some ridiculous BIG questions. I want to discuss the things!]
These are very well phrased questions that begin already, I think, to hint at their answers.

Kimberly F. Hall has written a wonderful academic book called Things of Darkness: Economics of Race and Gender in Early Modern England. She’s interested in a period when Europe was exploring and conquering the so-called “New World.” One of Hall’s points is that it became very important for these Europeans to display their new exotic (and stolen) wealth—that portraiture of slaves, for example, came symbolically to show their masters’ power on many levels—over people, land, and money. Some of this influenced how I conceived of how the Valorians treat the remnants of the culture they had conquered. Even if they don’t understand it, they want to display it, because it is an everyday visual sign of their power.

I think it’s very dangerous to build one’s culture on the exploitation of another.
Kestrel and Arin seem to represent their respective people's opposites - Kestrel yearns for artistic expression and Arin is rather war-like. What do they reveal in each other's/their people's characters and circumstances? How does this make them a good fit for each other (or doesn't it)? On the one hand, they're star-crossed and all that jazz; on the other, they're sort of perfect complements to each other...
I like your observation that Kestrel and Arin represent their respective people’s opposites.

I feel pretty strongly that any relationship will be poisoned by a great difference in power between the two people concerned. Kestrel and Arin are pretty perfect for each other…except that one holds all the power.

But also, too, aren’t there different kinds of power? Aren’t we moved by art? If a book makes us cry, haven’t we given ourselves over to it? Very different than the power of someone with a weapon in his hand, sure. But it’s worth considering—and I think The Winner’s Curse considers this—not just the dynamics of power (who gets to be in control when) but also different expressions of power—sometimes even nice ones. Love, for example, holds great sway over us all.
Had the events of the book not transpired, do you see the Valorians becoming more Herrani in their way of life and the things they prize? Or would they remain as they are, disdainful of what came before?
This doesn’t quite answer your question, but as I wrote the book I did think about not necessarily America versus another culture, but rather the culture wars in American society—meaning, the ways in which our one culture can be at odds with itself over big topics—the right to bear arms, military intervention in the world, universal health care, funding for the humanities…cultures aren’t uniform. We know that.

My thoughts—and this is some of what we see in Book 2—is that the Valorian culture is becoming quite divided between people who fight and those who do not.

And if the events of The Winner’s Curse hadn’t transpired? The Herrani once thought they couldn’t be conquered. The Valorians would have been like them in that way. But I think they would have kept their disdain for the Herrani, at least for many, many generations. It’s hard to overcome, I think, the self-told lies of superiority that allows one group of people to believe it’s ok to conquer another.

I know you want this book. You know you want this book. Rafflecopter knows you want this book - or it will as soon as you click some buttons!
The awesome folks at Macmillan have offered up a The Winner's Curse prize pack, including a copy of the book and some awesome swag made by Marie! This is open to US mailing addresses only, and ends March 1st, the best day of the year!* Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter. Good luck!
PLEASE do not leave sensitive info, mailing addresses or email addresses in the comments!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

* It's the birthday of awesome people. Just saying... ;)

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Get It | Add It
Fantasy/Historical, 368 pages
Expected publication: March 4th 2014 by Farrar Straus Giroux
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.


  1. The author's comments definitely made me interested in reading this book. Sounds like it really brings up some thought-provoking issues.

  2. This post made me want to read this even more. Which I didn't think was possible. Seriously thought provoking stuff. Cultures are so very different from each other and navigating them can be tricky.

  3. I have heard nothing but amazing things about this book. I can't wait to get a finished copy of it!!!!

  4. I enjoyed the discussion about the two different people's clashing and changing and where the idea came from. I look forward to reading this one. Thanks!

  5. I want to read this so badly- I hear great things AND the cover is perfect. But I had to skip over your questions, because I didn't want spoilers, or any pre-knowledge of specifics to sully my initial impressions from reading it myself. :(

  6. Thanks for the interview. Honestly, sometimes the intricacies of world-building blow my mind. I'm in awe of people who can visualize and describe these alternate realities. Thanks again.

  7. Whoa! My birthday is March 2nd! Woooo! I live in Aus, so couldn't enter (and am in Japan right now ^_~), but I have already pre-ordered the book so I can look forward to that! :D

  8. Christina R. in the rafflecopter

    LOVE what she said about power playing a part in relationships, but how even love is a form of power and that there are types of power.

    Thank you:)

  9. Ooooo this sounds so good! I can't wait to read it!

  10. Really looking forward to this one.

  11. this is definitely ones of my most anticipated! The premise and writing seems very fantastic! :)

  12. (This is Darith L)

    Definitely thought-provoking. I'm excited for this beautiful book.

  13. I'm really looking forward to reading this!

  14. Oh wow, this book makes politics sound interesting! I can't wait to read it!

  15. a definite 'add' to my WishList!!!
    thank you for the giveaway!!!

  16. I pretty much agree with what the author says about "culture wars", not just in US society, but in the world. Pin pointing that concept in the 2 cultures she mentions (oh, god, spoilers?!) I think that such concepts & points of view about war & power is divided between those who had much to lose or nothing at all.

  17. This just gets me all the more excited for this book- THANKS FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!! ^^

  18. I love the idea that Arin and Kestrel both yearn for the things that are more common in each other's cultures. Also, that the two cultures seem to resemble the ancient Greeks and Romans.

  19. Just finished reading your review! I'm so envious of everyone who's already gotten the chance to read this. Also, I loved reading this post! As if I needed more reasons to want a copy of The Winner's Curse. Lol.

  20. Great guest post, I can't wait to come back and read these tour poats again after I read the book!

  21. (This is Darith L)

    I love what the author touched on; the whole power dynamics and such. It will be an interesting read, indeed.

  22. Wow, just reading the interview I can tell how thought out and well developed the setting of this book is.

  23. I like hearing how opposite the characters are but how they also compliment each other. I'm looking forward to learning more about this world!

  24. Awesome guest post. I have to agree. If a book makes me cry I have emotionally invested in it, in the end it usually pays off and is wonderful.

  25. This guest post is amazeballs. It just makes me want this book in my hands even more!


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