February 26, 2018

The Tombs Blog Tour: Guest Post + Giveaway

Welcome to Day #6 of The Tombs Blog Tour!

To celebrate the release of The Tombs on February 20th, blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Deborah Schaumberg and 10 chances to win a finished copy and a custom bookmark handmade by the author!


New York, 1882. A dark, forbidding city, and no place for a girl with unexplainable powers.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Kohl pines for the life she had before her mother was taken. She fears the mysterious men in crow masks who locked her mother in the Tombs asylum for being able to see what others couldn't. Avery denies the signs in herself, focusing instead on her shifts at the ironworks factory and keeping her inventor father out of trouble. Other than secondhand tales of adventure from her best friend, Khan, an ex-slave, and caring for her falcon, Seraphine, Avery spends her days struggling to survive.

Like her mother's, Avery's powers refuse to be contained. When she causes a bizarre explosion at the factory, she has no choice but to run from her lies, straight into the darkest corners of the city. Avery must embrace her abilities and learn to wield their power--or join her mother in the cavernous horrors of the Tombs. And the Tombs has secrets of its own: strange experiments are being performed on 'patients'...and no one knows why.

Deborah Schaumberg's gripping debut melds history and fantasy, taking readers on a breathless trip across a teeming turn-of-the-century New York, and asks the question: Where can you hide in a city that wants you buried?
The Architecture of Stories

You wouldn't think that having a background in architecture would help me write a novel, but I believe it did just that. In architecture school we studied the Roman architect Vitruvius. He proposed that architecture is made up of three principles; firmitas or structure, utilitas or function, and venustas or delight. These three rules can be applied to story writing as well.

Structure - Imagine a building without a firm structure. If the foundation isn't solid, it cannot support the walls and the roof. Do you remember that fort you constructed as a kid? Well try building it on a wobbly mound of pebbles or in quicksand! The structure of a novel is what supports the characters and the plot. There are different types of story structures too, but the one I used to write The Tombs, is the simple three-act structure. It made the most sense to me for the type of novel I was writing. This structure moves the action along, builds suspense and excitement, and helps to define the ending. I actually printed out a diagram and made notes on it as I went along. Here is what it looks like:

Function - In architecture the function of a building is its purpose and dictates its form. It can be to provide a place to live or work, a place to house art, (museum), or a place to worship, (church/temple/mosque). Good architecture has purpose. Good novels have themes. The progression or transformation of the characters and the plot reveal the themes. Stories inspire and entertain; they make us laugh or cry, or both, and help us escape. There is power in storytelling, which not only evokes emotion, but also highlights issues within society, and helps us to understand ourselves better. When we relate to and root for a character we may be inspired to live our lives in a different way or see the world from a new perspective. The Tombs addresses questions about guilt, being true to yourself, and discovering who you really are, as well as broader ideas of connection and social inequality.

Delight - You wouldn't label all structures as architecture, but when you are in a well-designed space, you feel it. There is a sense of balance and grace; you may notice symmetry, rhythm, texture, or contrast between light and shadow. All of these elements make architecture beautiful. A story is composed of elements such as voice and tone, point-of-view and setting, character and conflict. It takes practice to use these elements well, but it makes for great stories. In honing your craft, you may, for example, work on creating well-developed characters. They will have a distinct voice and be humanly flawed, (even if they're not human!). They make mistakes, have fears and aspirations…but most importantly, they transform from the beginning of the story to the end. Another element is setting. As an architect I particularly love describing the setting. By using all of the senses to draw a three-dimensional world, the reader is transported into the story. It was so much fun to work with 1882 New York as the setting. Both the industrial revolution and the aftermath of the Civil War added such richness to the atmosphere I was trying to create

Hopefully from the brief description above, you can see there are many parallels between architecture and writing. My design background has provided me a unique perspective when sitting down to write. Go to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Notice the hushed echo of the space permeated by the scent of burning candles, the violet-tinted light streaming through stained glass, the carved stone arches soaring toward the sky and you will be struck with wonder. Well-constructed stories can have the same effect. With a solid structure, a defined theme, and beautifully crafted elements, a story has the ability to touch the heart and soul of a reader. Isn't that what all writers are striving for?

Deborah Schaumberg was born in Brooklyn, not far from where her novel The Tombs takes place. She grew up renovating dilapidated old houses with her family. She and her father would walk the rooms, floor by floor, making up stories about the inhabitants that were filled with dark secrets, monsters, and, of course, ghosts. Deborah is a writer and an artist whose work always has an element of fantasy to it, and since she also studied architecture, settings are equally important. It was on a trek to the Annapurna Sanctuary in Nepal that she imagined a girl with the ability to see energy, and the seed of The Tombs was planted. She collects old bottles, and her favorite holiday is, you guessed it, Halloween. Deborah lives with her family and two dogs in Maryland, just outside DC. Visit her at deborahschaumberg.com.


One (1) winner will receive a SIGNED finished copy of The Tombs and a custom bookmark handmade by Deborah Schaumberg
US only!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Blog Tour Schedule:

February 19th — BookhoundsYA
February 20th — Good Choice Reading
February 21st — Book Briefs
February 22nd — Crossroad Reviews
February 23rd — Novel Novice

February 26th — A Dream Within A Dream
February 27th — Positively Book Crazy
February 28th —Reading Teen
March 1st — Page Turners
March 2nd — Mundie Moms

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