The time it was about Dark and Deepest Red

Posted April 6, 2020 by Stacee in Interviews | 0 Comments

Ontario Teen Book Fest is something that {usually} happens every year and every year, I participate in the blog tour.  This year, when Sara sent out the author list, I was excited to see that Anna-Marie McLemore was included.  I basically responded in all shouty caps and Sara spoiled me {as usual}.

Unfortunately, OTBF had to be canceled.  It was scheduled to take place this past Saturday and while organizers are working on getting it rescheduled, I decided to share my interview with Anna-Marie.  Before we get to their answers, let’s check out their newest book.

Title: Dark and Deepest Red
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Pages: 309
Pub Date: January 14, 2020
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Find it: Macmillan | Indiebound | B&N | Amazon | Goodreads

Summer, 1518. A strange sickness sweeps through Strasbourg: women dance in the streets, some until they fall down dead. As rumors of witchcraft spread, suspicion turns toward Lavinia and her family, and Lavinia may have to do the unimaginable to save herself and everyone she loves.

Five centuries later, a pair of red shoes seal to Rosella Oliva’s feet, making her dance uncontrollably. They draw her toward a boy who knows the dancing fever’s history better than anyone: Emil, whose family was blamed for the fever five hundred years ago. But there’s more to what happened in 1518 than even Emil knows, and discovering the truth may decide whether Rosella survives the red shoes.

With McLemore’s signature lush prose, Dark and Deepest Red pairs the forbidding magic of a fairy tale with a modern story of passion and betrayal.

Sounds good, right?

1. Please give the elevator pitch for Dark and Deepest Red.

The really short description: Red Shoes + Medieval Queers

The slightly longer description: A fictionalized account of the 1518 Strasbourg dancing plague meets a reimagining of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Red Shoes”

2. Which came first: the characters or the plot idea?

The plot, but only just barely. As soon as I knew I wanted to write about the 1518 dancing plague and “The Red Shoes,” I knew I wanted to write about a Romani girl and a trans boy in 1518 and a Latina girl and a Romani boy in present day.

3. Why do you love Rosella and Emil and why should readers root for them?

Rosella is a Latina girl who carries a handbag worthy of any abuela, and whose family makes red shoes that may or may not be enchanted. Emil is a Romani science nerd who has a slightly magical forest cat who doesn’t like anyone but him. I love writing stories with characters of color at the center, characters who, yes, face racism and prejudice but who readers also get to see as smart and funny and complicated and, most of all, as heroes.

4. What was the weirdest thing you googled while researching?

Medieval beauty secrets. I can vouch for none of them because I haven’t tried them, but apparently there was butter, pearls, and honey involved.

5. Without spoilers, which scene was your favorite write?

The ending in the 1518 storyline. It might be the gayest thing I’ve ever written.

6. What was your last 5 star read?

Currently reading I.W. Gregorio’s THIS IS MY BRAIN IN LOVE, and it’s so good, I can just tell it’s gonna be one of my favorites of the year.

7. What are you working on now?

THE MIRROR SEASON (winter 2021) is a Snow Queen reimagining about two teens who are sexually assaulted at the same party, and who then find their fates intertwined during a month of enchanted pan dulce and disappearing trees.


Anna-Marie McLemore (they/them) is the queer, Latinx, nonbinary author of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, a 2016 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist; 2017 Stonewall Honor Book WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS, which was longlisted for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature; WILD BEAUTY, a Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Booklist best book of 2017; BLANCA & ROJA, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice; DARK AND DEEPEST RED, a Winter 2020 Indie Next List title; and THE MIRROR SEASON, forthcoming in 2021.  website | twitter


Huge thanks to Anna-Marie for taking the time to do the interview and to Sara for putting in all of the work to organize the blog tour for OTBF.

Dark and Deepest Red is out now and buy links are above.

Have you read any of Anna-Marie’s books? Which one is your favorite?



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