Fantasy · Guest Post/Interview · Selective Collective · SERIES · YA · YA Series

The Selective Collective: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski


Our featured March title:


The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Gone Pecan was lucky enough to host the interview and giveaway portion of the SC feature so without further delay please welcome Marie Rutkoski to the blog!

1. The Winner’s Curse has definitely been a buzzed about book among bloggers. Do you find the buzz a pleasant surprise or more of an added pressure?

Oh, I’m very pleased— and grateful.

It’s been interesting, too, to see some of the responses. For example, a lot of bloggers have observed that the first section of the book is different, plot-wise, then the second half. It’s true. When writing the first half, I thought a lot about how Jane Austen’s novels thrive on little moments in the plot– WHAT is happening (a dance, a conversation over tea, a walk to Merryton) isn’t as important as the emotions those actions unleash, and the shifts in understanding. The first part ofThe Winner’s Curse is written in that vein (small events/important emotions)…and then Big Things Happen. I’m always curious to see how people react to that shift– and to everything else, really.

A writer friend recently and wisely observed that we’re the first generation of writers working amidst such a blizzard of feedback. I know authors who swear off reading reviews. Personally, I don’t have that kind of will power.

2. I know in your dedication you included where the idea for WC came from but did you draw on anything/anyone for your unique character names?

When I lived in Prague, I had a friend named Arin who had been named this because it was raining on the day he was born, and his name is an anagram of “rain.” I always thought that was beautiful. And the sonority of the name fit what I imagined of the language of Arin’s country: lyrical, vowel-rich.

Kestrel’s language, on the other hand– this is the Valorian language– has a lot of strong consonants. I had a long talk, in fact, with the producer of the audio book ofThe Winner’s Curse about this. The producers had the amazing idea of giving Kestrel and the author Valorians accents. It works so well! I confess that I don’t usually like audio books, but I loved the one forThe Winner’s Curse (I’m still amazed by how sexy the narrator, Justine Eyre, made Arin sound). In my conversation with the producer, I suggested that they model the accent on a language with Old Germanic roots. But with a rolled “r.”

Sorry, I’m getting far from my point, which is that Kestrel’s name works with the sound of how I imagined the language, just as Arin’s works with his. But Kestrel’s name– a kestrel is a small hunting hawk– is also in some ways a small story. When parents name children, they place certain expectations on them. I hear, for example, that Justice is a rising popular name for boys in this country. The authors of Freakonomics, a book I enjoyed, also talk about what it means if someone names their kid “Winner,” for example. Kestrel’s name is a little story about her father’s expectations of her, and what he wanted his then newborn baby to become– fierce and predatory. Whether the name suits her is up to you.

3. WC seems to be fantasy without really having a huge fantasy background. Was that your intention from the start or did that evolve as part of the story?

It became my intention early on. In my first version of the first chapter, there were some magical elements, but they seemed…decorative. Kind of beside the point of the book. Like I was just throwing it in there because I like fantasy, and usually write fantasy, and I knew this book was fantasy because it was a made-up world, and thought that this meant there should be some kind of magic in there. But it didn’t fit. It distracted, I thought, from my desire to focus on ahuman story. So I removed anything that seemed magical.

I’ve written a lot more about this here:

And I read and enjoyed the blog Stacked’s take on the subject of fantasy books without magic:

4. Kestrel is a seriously strong strategist. How much prep did you need to do to showcase her talented skills?

Not a lot. Mostly it was a matter of creating problems and figuring out how she could get her way out of (or into) them.

To me, some of the most interesting parts of the book are what Kestreldoesn’t get, doesn’t see, and comes to understand. Kirkus reviews described her as “ferociously observant and painfully naive.” I like that.

5. Do you already have a set plan where this series will go/end?


6. I don’t want to give away anything but I think the ending was spot on and it was great to see a level playing field so to speak. Can we expect to open book two with a bang?

A bang? Ah…no. That’s not really my style. I like painfully delicious tension. I like to tighten those screws.

There will be “bangs” in Book 2– but not the ones you expect, and not when you expect them.


Want to win your own copy of The Winner’s Curse?  Follow the rafflecopter link below to enter for a chance!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Must be at least 13, US residents only.  You have 48 hours to respond when notified. Contest ends 04/03/14 @ 12:00am.  Good luck!!


Liked our interview + giveaway?   Check out the other SC posts!!

  Review:  – The Winner’s Curse –  Brittany @ The Book Addict’s Guide

Page to ScreenWho would you cast in The Winner’s Curse? –  Tee @ YA Crush

 Freebie:  – The Winner’s Curse   Candice @ The Grown-Up YA

Roundtable Discussion: The Winner’s Curse  – Sandie & Diana @ Teen Lit Rocks

Thanks to Macmillan for providing ARCS for review on the SC.


9 thoughts on “The Selective Collective: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

  1. I loved the interview . I bought a nook copy and I’m almost done reading it . I love this book just as much as I was expecting . The cover is so gorgeous , and I would love a physical copy .

  2. First off I think that the cover is so pretty and I love how it is sideways. Second my all time favorite genre is high fantasy with romance so pretty much everything about this book is appealing to me. Thanks for the great giveaway!!!

  3. I’ve heard a TON of amazingggg things about this book. Plus, I adore fantasy novels(and this books concept is so intriguing!).

    Thank you for the giveaway!

  4. Ooooh now I MUST listen to the audio! I love fantasy worlds (without magic!) and I just love the history and details of the worlds. I really want to hear those accents!

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