The Cure for Dreaming
Author: Cat Winters
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout.
How did writing The Cure for Dreaming differ from writing In the Shadow of Blackbirds?Even though In the Shadow of Blackbirds was a complicated mystery involving death and an extremely dark moment in history, I actually found The Cure for Dreaming to be more challenging to write. I asked my Blackbirds readers to take a leap of faith with me when I portrayed ghost/human interactions, but with this new book, I’m asking readers to go even further and buy into the idea of a girl who’s hypnotized into seeing people’s true natures.
My protagonist is a young suffragist fully awakening to the harsh limitations placed upon women in the year 1900. At times she sees certain men (and women) as vampires. It was a delicate line I needed to tread: portraying the wrongs against women in this time period without sounding preachy and stereotypical or completely anti-man. In the end, I decided what I needed to concentrate on most was showing what the world would look to a seventeen-year-old girl—a fan of Victorian horror novels, no less—when she realizes she’s living in a society that isn’t kind to her gender. On the surface, The Cure for Dreaming seems like a lighter novel because of its lack of worldwide tragedy and death, but I think it will be more controversial than In the Shadow of Blackbirds. It deals with a topic—women’s rights—that still provokes strong reactions to this day.
What drew you to live, and write books set, in Portland and Oregon in general?My husband and I decided to move our family up to Portland because Southern California became too expensive for a math teacher (my husband) and a struggling writer (me) with two young children. We wanted to go somewhere more affordable, while still remaining on the West Coast. We’ve lived up here in Oregon for eight years now and we absolutely love it, including the rain—which is a precious commodity down in Southern California.
In the Shadow of Blackbirds is about a Portland girl who moves to San Diego, which is the exact opposite of my own move. The Cure for Dreaming is set entirely in Portland. I enjoy writing books that take place in the region where I live, simply because I have easy access to historical records and all the little quirks that only a local would know about. Not only am I sharing historical time periods, but I’m sharing pockets of the world.
Who was your favorite character to write in The Cure for Dreaming?The young hypnotist, Henri Reverie, was an absolute blast to write, but my protagonist, Olivia Mead, is the nearest and dearest to my heart. Like her, I was a shy and awkward girl in high school. I loved portraying a girl who doesn’t initially seem like a rebel but then blossoms into an empowered young woman.
If The Cure for Dreaming had a theme song what would it be?Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts.” I listened to it most days before sitting down to write, to get into the right mindset for Olivia, especially when she was about to encounter obstacles. I’m usually more of an alternative rock girl, not a Top 40 fan, but this particular song really spoke to me. It’s haunting and powerful.
What was the last book you read and loved?I’m currently in the midst of reading Heidi Schulz’s absolutely delightful middle-grade novel, Hook’s Revenge. My ten-year-old son and I are big fans.