f0zKg0J4zFLYz-Yq0aednQVqREE Once Upon a Prologue: Author Interview: Kelley York
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Author Interview: Kelley York

{ ++ } Today I am absolutely thrilled to have YA author Kelley York on the blog, talking about her debut novel, HUSHED, in my stop on her HUSHED tour.  To read more about the tour, including previous and future stops, follow this link.  If after reading this interview, you're curious about HUSHED, please feel free to check out my review of the book!  It was truly a wonderful, heart-wrenching read, that I hope you, too, will read and enjoy. 

Kelley was born and raised in central California, where she still resides with her lovely wife, daughter, and an abundance of pets. (Although she does fantasize about moving across the globe to Ireland.) She has a fascination with bells, adores all things furry – be them squeaky, bark-y or meow-y – is a lover of video games, manga and anime, and likes to pretend she’s a decent photographer. Her life goal is to find a real unicorn. Or maybe a mermaid.

Within young adult, she enjoys writing and reading a variety of genres from contemporary with a unique twist, psychological thrillers, paranormal/urban fantasy and horror. She loves stories where character development takes center stage.

{ ++ } Archer is an incredibly complex character, and at times, a bundle of contradictions.  It seems like most of the things he believes about himself come not from within, but from what others have labeled him as.  Was writing for him a challenge at all, or did you find his voice easily?

There’s probably something wrong with me that I find characters like Archer very easy to write. It’s the “normal,” stable characters (like Evan) who pose a greater challenge to me. You’re completely right in saying he’s a walking contradiction. Archer’s desperate want to please the people he loves means he’s constantly shifting his views in order to justify the things he does, and viewing himself through other peoples’ eyes. He’s a guy very uncomfortable in his own skin.

{ ++ } Vivian is, in my opinion, a highly disturbed character – who undoubtedly went through something tragic, but that event seemed to break something in her that could never be repaired, even through Archer’s actions.  Did you mean for Vivian to come across as sympathetic?  I could understand her, but I could never feel for her.  She was a fantastic foil to Archer, but I never found her sympathetic, so I’m just curious what your thoughts are on her!

 Originally, Vivian was meant to be a much more sympathetic character and Archer was more a true antagonist, despite being the narrator. But somewhere along the line in the early stages of writing HUSHED, the balance drastically shifted. I’ve seen some people who sympathize with Viv a lot, while others don’t at all, and I think it’s interesting to hear readers’ reactions to her. On a personal level, I do understand her, but I don’t feel sorry for her. As Evan says in the book, plenty of people have bad things happen to them that they can’t control. What they can control is whether or not they choose to be a victim of those events.

{ ++ } I have to know: where did the idea for Hushed come from?  Did the plot come to you all at once, or in stages?  Was there any one character who developed quickly, or fully, or that you couldn’t stop thinking about until you wrote for?

 HUSHED started with Archer. I’m no good at coming up with plots and then characters to fill them. I have to have a solid idea of my characters first, then let them build the story on their own. So I’m terrible with outlines and plotting ahead of time. HUSHED was all about Archer, his development, and his story that needed to be told. 

{ ++ } Evan is everything any guy would be lucky to have (or any girl, too bad he isn’t straight!)  His compassion, the way he draws out Archer, when everyone else has mostly given up on Archer, is all to be admired.  How do you hope your readers perceive Evan: perfect, flawed for believing in Archer long after he possibly shouldn’t, etc.  
There are people out there like Evan. Endlessly supportive and drawn to the ‘injured birds,’ so to speak. Unfortunately, those types of people often end up hurt repeatedly because being with someone as damaged as Archer (or Vivian) can be so stressful and damaging in of itself. I certainly don’t want anyone to perceive Evan as perfect, because nobody is. His willingness to stick around might be great for Archer, but it’s undoubtedly a big strain on Evan himself. It’s going to take a lot of work on both their parts for them to have a happy ending.

{ ++ } What was the most interesting part of writing Hushed?  Are there any particular scenes (if you can describe without spoilers) that really stood out in your mind when you were writing them?

I do have favorites! The scene where Archer is watching Evan swim while talking to him on the phone. Also, his second run-in with his mom, and a particular hospital scene. They were emotionally charged scenes I had so much fun writing and they were so vivid in my head before I even got to them.

{  ++ } Did you ever have an “alternate ending” for Hushed, or was the ending we’re reading now always the one you had in mind?  (I loved the ending, by the way, ending on a hopeful note for Evan and Archer.)

There was a different original ending, yes, but not one that ever got written out. It was the ending I had in mind when I first started the story and had plans of the entire thing being different...but Archer took the lead and brought me in a different direction. The ending I had when I submitted to Entangled was, essentially, the same in tone, but it was different.

{ ++ } Can you tell us about your future plans for any further writing?  I stayed up way too late to finished Hushed because my heart was pounding and I simply HAD to know what happened next.  I’m very excited for anything else you publish!  
Aw, thank you! That’s always a huge compliment. I do have more plans. I have another book I’m working on, and plenty of ideas. 
 I’m never short on those. The one I have in progress is another male/male couple, though not quite as thriller-ish, I don’t think.

{ ++ } Do you have any “writing routines?”  IE. Listen to music, have to have complete silence, foods you like to snack on, etc.

 I like having music going, otherwise it needs to be silent. I do a lot of my writing at my day job on lunches or breaks, because I can slip on my headphones and tune everything out for awhile.

{ ++ } Evan and Archer’s friendship and connection, for me, was the absolute best and most beautiful part of Hushed, seeing that play out amidst the violence and other aspects of the novel.  I hope it was as much of a joy for you to write as it was for me to read!  Was it different for you, writing a male/male romance, getting inside their heads so to speak?

Not at all. I’ve written male/male couples before, so I honestly didn’t think anything of it. I did worry, when I started shopping the book around, about how well I did at writing a male voice...but I haven’t heard any complaints about that so I guess I didn’t do too badly.

{ ++ } Can you talk about how you arrived at the decision to try to get published?  Was Hushed your first attempt?  Has being a debut author been all you thought it would be?
HUSHED was actually my second attempt, and by the time I got an offer from Entangled Publishing, I was worried I’d have to move on and set HUSHED aside. I felt like it was good enough to be out there, but the feedback I was getting from agents was that it was too dark, and they didn’t know how to sell it. Then I saw Heather Howland wanted darker stories with slightly older protagonists (Archer is 18), and I gave it a shot. Being a debut author is awesome, although terrifying considering some of the other debut books I’m going up alongside. I’m fortunate to have a great team to hold my hand the entire way.

{ ++ } Are there any particular influences that you credit for getting you into writing?  Childhood heroes, or authors you’ve discovered as an adult who just grabbed your heart and wouldn’t let go?

I read a lot of fantasy as a kid. Things like HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE, or THE LAST UNICORN. Funny, because I don’t touch fantasy much anymore. I wasn’t honestly reading much at all when I wrote my first book so no author spurred me into wanting to write. I wrote it because I had these characters whose story I really wanted to get down, and it’s come from there.

{ ++ } If you weren’t a published author (I am assuming you’d still write!) is there any other career you could see yourself having?

For a long while, I really wanted to be a psychologist and started majoring in it. (Didn’t finish, though.) It’s still an interest of mine, but what I want to do now is write.

Thank you to Kelley for participating in this interview!  Read on below for further information about HUSHED!

Praise for HUSHED

'Kelley York delivers in this impressive debut. I was at the edge of my
seat waiting to see what would happen next! Bottom line, this was
unputdownable!!!' --- YA Fantasy Guide ---

Hushed - Synopsis:

He's saved her. He's loved her. He's killed for her.

Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn't protect his best friend, Vivian, from
what happened when they were kids, so he's never stopped trying to protect
her from everything else. It doesn't matter that Vivian only uses him when
hopping from one toxic relationship to another - Archer is always there,
waiting to be noticed.

Then along comes Evan, the only person who's ever cared about Archer
without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more
Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.

But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders
Archer's committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn
him in if she doesn't get what she wants...And what she wants is Evan's
death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.

Find HUSHED online: Amazon | Barnes & Noble 


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