An interview with Katharine Orton (Nevertell) and a giveaway!

Back in the middle of April, I read Nevertell, by Katharine Orton (Walker Books US, April 14, 2020, with much enjoyment! It's a magical, chilly middle grade adventure about a brave girl finding her magic and confronting evil (here's my review).  So it's a pleasure to welcome Katharine here, and to offer a giveaway of this book courtesy of its publisher! Just leave a comment to be entered; closes in one week, at midnight on the 27th!

What was the inspiration for Nevertell? Did the whole story come to you clear in your mind, or did it arrive in bits?

Nevertell has been floating around inside my head in bits for years. Whether in the form of family stories – like the one about when my grandfather was part of a mutiny – or when I first started to learn about Siberian gulags in my school history lessons. I love fairy tales from all over the world and have always been interested in Russian history. And one day I was reading a book called Inside the Rainbow where I learned that at one point in the Soviet Union children weren’t supposed to be told fairy tales. I started to think about how fantasy and the real world intertwine… That’s when all those little bits finally came together, and the idea for Nevertell was born. 

What was the most challenging part of the story, either plot-wise or writing-wise? 

Well, from the very beginning the children are determined to reach Moscow to find Lina’s grandmother. But… that’s thousands upon thousands of miles from where they are in Siberia. So I found myself scratching my head along with the children quite a lot, trying to figure out just how I was going to help them along their journey! But from that challenge sprang much of the story, so I’m grateful for it.

 What are your own favorite Russian fairy tales? 

Oh, there are lots! There’s a brilliant one called The Stone Flower – part of a series I believe involving the Mistress of the Copper Mountain. And I love the character of Baba Yaga who turns up in a lot of folk and fairy tales such as Vasilisa the Beautiful. One of my all-time favourites is called The Soldier and Death, but it’s quite sad. 

This is a rather chilly book, being set in the Siberian winter; what's the coldest you yourself have ever been? 

I’ve been to some pretty cold places, like Scotland in winter and the French Alps – brr! But the answer is probably a lot sillier. I got stuck in Central London once with a friend. It was night, it was cold and I was shivering because I had no coat, and for one reason and another we had no obvious way to get home. My friend suggested we sleep on a bench and head off in the morning. Er – that wasn’t going to happen! Worried about my fingers – and the rest of me – turning to ice, I insisted, and we did manage to make our way back eventually. But our journey was quite the chaotic ‘adventure’ in itself. 

What will your next book be about? 

This time we’re visiting Dartmoor in England, a place steeped in its own mystery and folklore, just after World War Two. It follows an otherwise ordinary girl with a strange connection to the spirit world, who finds herself caught up in a dangerous, magical prophecy. I probably shouldn’t say too much more, but you can expect a sprawling, epic landscape, spirits (some good and some with wicked intent), more fairy and folk tale magic, and, most importantly of all, characters you can root for. But what is it really about? My best answer to that is: healing.

Thanks Katharine!  Your next book sounds right up my alley!


  1. This sounds like a great read!! I'd love the chance to win!

  2. Thanks for the giveaway! Sounds like a fun one! my email is zoezz123 at gmail.

  3. This has been on my to-read list for awhile--I love historical fantasy, and the Stalinist Soviet setting of this one is unfamiliar and interesting to me. Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. Please enter me; I love Russian fairy tales! Katy of alibrarymama


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