Q&A with Kara Barbieri.
1. Do you have a favorite story about goblins that inspired you to write White Stag?
Kinda. My favorite ever folktale is East of the Sun, West of the Moon and while it technically is about trolls (though some tellings of it use goblins instead) it’s definitely been what sparked me originally to Northern Germanic mythology. Also, while it isn’t about goblins, the poem Der Erlkoneg obviously inspired the story as well.
2. What made you decide to have Janneke having already lived 100 years in the goblin world?
This is a pretty big FAQ that I get regarding White Stag and one that readers have multiple feelings about. Some wish I included the hundred-year backstory, some are cool with how it is, some just don’t like it, etc. Same with most choices in every book, I guess. But there is a reason that I started it the way I did.
Janneke’s story is above all things, learning to let go of her past and what that past has done to her—learning that it’s okay to feel pain over terrible things but that holding onto that pain stops you from truly living. She has a hundred years of survivors guilt she’s clung to and a hundred years to replay what happened to her over and over. Through the story she relearns how to view her life and the lives around her until she’s able to come to peace with what’s happened to her. It still was bad and she has every right to still feel bad or scared or anything regarding it; but she learns to let herself feel those feelings and then let them go.
Janneke’s story is very similar to my own in that way. Learning to recover after trauma.
Another reason I made this choice was because I wanted there to be an established relationship and rapport around Soren and Janneke already in place. They already have these bonds of trust in each other and are friends (despite Janneke’s protests as she lies to herself a lot before going through that journey of acceptance). I don’t think the story would work the same way if they’d just met. They have a shared history and that shared history is so crucial to the plot and themselves.
3. If you had the choice to live in the human world, or the goblin world, where would you live?
Most definitely the human world. Though I wouldn’t say the goblin world is all that bad. We see a lot of the bad bits because it’s from Janneke’s very biased POV but I still would rather live in the human world. Unless I was a goblin. Then it’s the goblin world for me.
The first book in a brutally stunning series where a young girl finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home.
As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.
Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.
Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.
Kara Barbieri is a writer living in the tiny town of Hayward, Wisconsin. An avid fantasy fan, she began writing White Stag at eighteen and posting it to Wattpad soon after under the name of ‘Pandean’. When she’s not writing, you can find her marathoning Buffy the Vampire Slayer, reviving gothic fashion, and jamming to synthpop.