HUSHED blog tour: interview with Kelley York

Today on Tangled we get to be part of the HUSHED blog tour from Entangled Publishing and the lovely Kelley York. Since it was originally supposed to be here, I put a copy up in both places. You can check out a complete list of tour stops by clicking on that banner above. We asked Kelley some questions about writing, about characters and about this that book that everyone is raving out about....

You say in your bio (below) that you have an abundance of pets. What pets do you have? What's your dream pet?
I have three cats (Noel, Irish, and Quinn), three rats (Gin, Grimmy, and Noah), two hamsters (Exquisite and Hope), and more recently we’ve added a bunny to the mix named Pattie. If I could have any animal in the world...I’d probably want something like a wolf or a fox. (Have you ever seen foxes playing?! THEY ARE SO CUTE.) Obviously those kinds of animals aren’t made for living in captivity, though. Realistically speaking, I want a dog. Some kind of big, lovable mutt.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Why/how does that approach help/hurt you? 
I’m definitely a panster with very little plotting. I tried desperately to plot my last book from beginning to end, and it made things a lot harder for me, trying to conform to what I’d written in my outline. My characters often take their own routes and do things I wasn’t expecting them to do and ideas come to me as I write. I never know what it’s going to be until I’m done with it.  

Which aspect of craft is your weakest and how do you overcome that? 
Anytime I’ve noticed a particular problem in my writing, I actively work on fixing it. I used to info-dump a lot in my opening chapters, and I think I’ve overcome that. It’s always a struggle for me to describe things. I don’t think my writing is very poetic when it comes to talking about settings, so I fumble with that a lot. Action scenes (fights, mainly) are terrifying to me and I’m terrible at them. It takes a lot of work and combing over it again and again to get it right.

What scenes do you get most excited about writing? What scenes are the hardest for you?
 I love the emotionally-charged scenes. Evan and Archer’s ‘just bones’ talk is probably one of my favorites in HUSHED. Drama! Heartbreak! Deception! I like those sorts of scenes.  

Was there any music that inspired HUSHED?
There was indeed music. I actually made up a whole playlist of the main songs I listened to and posted it on my blog awhile back. “What Sarah Said” by Death Cab for Cutie is always the first one that comes to mind for a very particular scene.

What are some the best kinds of characters to read? How do you enjoy seeing them develop? How does that translate into your own writing and characters?
I love the tragic, emotionally/mentally broken characters. I’m thinking of Cole from Maggie Stiefvater’s SHIVER series is one of my favorites of that variety. He was probably the most complex and interesting character in the entire trilogy. I like picking apart characters. When someone has that kind of emotional or psychological damage, it’s sort of like this barrier keeping them from living a normal life. I enjoy watching (or writing) those characters figuring out their own way of living life without the damage controlling them.  

Describe HUSHED in 6 words or less.  
A dark, manipulative and twisty thriller.

How did HUSHED develop?
 It started with Archer. He was the first character and I had a vague idea of him, then along came Vivian, and Evan followed. I started writing with little idea of what I wanted to do and where I wanted the story to go, and let the characters bounce off each other. Chain reaction. I don’t feel I should have to throw obstacles at them and watch them react; they needed to build their own momentum.

Did you do any research HUSHED? If so, what are some things that you pulled from? 
I did some research on the various murders. Overdosing, corpses left for a few weeks, gas leaks, etc. I went through forums and websites for my answers, wanting to make sure I found several places that said the same thing rather than relying on any single source.

Every review we've read of HUSHED always references the intense relationship between Viv and Evan and Archer. Was that something you planned or did it just happen? 
 It sort of just happened. I never plan much before writing, so everything that happens is a product of the characters running off on their own. Evan and Archer, in the original vague idea I had for HUSHED, weren’t even meant to end up together...but we see how well that worked out.

What's one thing you want people to know about HUSHED if that's all they ever learn?
We might not be able to control some of the damaging events in our lives. What we can control is how we react to it.

Kelley YorkAuthor Bio: 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, barky 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.

Kelley's website: http://www.kelley-york.com/blog
                                                       About HUSHED: 
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.

Buy the book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

'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

'How exciting that we live in a time when gay teen protagonists can be just as screwed up as straight ones -- and their stories just as creepy!' ~Brent Hartinger, award-winning, author of Geography Club and Shadow Walkers


A Journey of Passion.

I’m all about passion.

In fact, if passion was a football team, I’d be at every single game in the stand with a bullhorn, cheering. I’m the head cheerleader for passion. I’m passionate about being passionate.

I know what you’re thinking, “That’s a weird thing to say.” Maybe it is. Maybe it is a weird thing to say, but I’ll say it until I die: I’m passionate about being passionate. v Every person who is born is born with a purpose, wired for something special and unique. Accepting that is the easy part. Once you’ve done the easy part, the hard part follows. The hard part is finding that thing. You know, the thing.

The thing that makes your heart pound out of your chest when you think about it, talk about it, do it. The thing that consumes your thoughts and brings so much joy to your soul (JOY, not happiness, there’s a difference.) The thing that is completely you—so much so, in fact, you wonder why it took so long to find. That thing is your passion. Occasionally, it’s difficult to find but once you do, there’s no more wondering.

Finding my passion was difficult for me. I knew I had a purpose, or at least I thought I did, but I had no idea what that was. I was always searching for it, intent on finding it. I tried. I tried really hard to find it and there were moments when I thought I had. I didn’t. That’s the thing about passion: it can have many forms. You can be passionate about more than one thing, about people, about places. You can enjoy many things, but does that mean those things are your passion?

I found my first pseudo-passion in high school. Two words: Hollywood. Movies. I was determined that I’d write and direct movies. That was it. Bam, I’m ready. But, college led me to South Carolina and suddenly, that passion dissolved. Sure, I still love movies and TV, but I knew that wasn’t where I needed to be.

In college it was a lot of things. It was so many that I can’t even begin to list them all. I discovered my passion for the homeless and for HIV/AIDS awareness. I discovered my passion for ministry and college students and leadership. I pursued things and tried things and found ways to get involved. But, those things weren’t my passion either. Not really. Sure, I have a heart for all those things, but I knew that wasn’t where I needed to be.

Those pseudo-passions led me to Nashville, which led me to South Africa, which led me back to Nashville. There in those moments after my trip, I found my passion. Soon after I met two lovely women named Myra and Victoria, and my passion seemed like something I could actually, maybe, really do. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I should back up because there’s something you should know…

When I was little, all I wanted was to be was normal. My childhood was less than normal and I longed for the day I could venture out on my own and find myself, find a husband, have a family. I wanted stable. I wanted to be one of the normal people who have real jobs and friends and hobbies. I accepted in college that this dream is unrealistic. It’s not who I am and I will never be that girl.

I’m the girl who’s in love with words.

The one thing I’ve always been when none of the other things have panned out is that girl. The girl who dreams. Who pretends that unicorns exist somewhere else. The girl who hid in the basement as a kid so I could write down stories and no one would see me. The girl who filled in answers of the math tests in second grade, so I could read a book instead. I’ve always been a writer, even before I knew I could be.
I had this poster.
I remember when words came alive for me. I read Charlotte’s Web, The Secret Garden, The Boxcar Children and every Goosebumps book R.L Stine had written. I envied the characters. I wanted a secret garden and a talking pig; we had a pig, but he didn’t talk. I wanted to live somewhere else, far away from where I was, and have scary adventures.

Movies like Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid completely took over my life. I wanted to be Ariel. I even pretended I was when I was in the bathtub. (You know, the scene on the rock when she sings, “I don’t know when. I don’t know how…” and then swoosh—the wave comes up. Yea, I did that. It made a huge mess every night, but I didn’t care. )

I talked to candlesticks and clocks. I imagined that the old man next door with the huge pond was evil and his pond was a magical gateway. I thought the house on the hill was the home of three witches and that I was somehow a witch too. I had one best friend who I let into my magical world, but no one else. I was fine alone with my Barbies and my thoughts. I loved stories and Power Rangers and anything that meant I didn’t have to be me.

In college, when I was trying to find a passion among all those things I said earlier, I took a writing class. I was good. I mean, they liked my writing. No one had ever read my writing before (except fanfiction and that didn’t count.) It wasn’t long before I had a minor in writing. I really liked it but still, even then, it was a hobby. I never called myself a writer until my senior year—and even then, it was half-hearted.

I never called myself a writer until that trip to South Africa. It was there I learned how important passion was. The people we worked with there gave up their families to do the thing they were passionate about. A guy named Mzo smiled so big when he talked about those kids; his passion was contagious. So, when I came home to Nashville, I had a new mantra: be passionate.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that my passion was writing. It was so simple, so blatantly simple, that it was overwhelming. From the first word, I knew that it was my thing. I knew I was a writer. I’d tried to deny it to myself, tried other things, tried to find it somewhere else, somewhere less scary, but it was me. It was part of me. I had to pursue it.

When the day came that Myra came into my store, my store of all the bookstores in the area, it was definitely a big deal. She will never know how much encouragement she gave me in just those few moments. She gave me an idea that I could do it if I tried—and she meant it.

Ever since then I’ve called myself a writer. I’m other things too, I have other labels: bookseller, blogger, nanny, sister, friend. But, I’m a writer. It’s the thing I’ve been my entire life and never knew. That’s the funny part about passion: it will wait until you’re ready. I wasn’t ready before—I honestly believe that—but as soon as I was, there it was. We’ve been together ever since.

I’ll never go back to how I was before. I’ll never live without my passion. Before I was lost and scared to try things and unsure. I was drowning, stuck in a hole and never going to get out.

Now, I know who I am. I’m a writer. You may never read my books or my blog or my tweets. You may never see my name in a bookstore or on a page—you may never know me at all, but I know me.
I’m also the head cheerleader for passion. I’m passionate about being passionate. Everyone needs to have that thing that makes their heart sing, that completes them, that pulls them out of the pit and stands them on their feet again. If you live a life without passion, then you’re wasting your life. You’re wasting your potential and your time.

It’s not always easy. It can be a long, hard road with twists and turns, but it will always be worth it in the end. Passion is always worth it because in finding it, you find life. And a reason to cheer.

“If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen for you and to you and because of you.” T. Alan Armstrong.

“Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping, waiting…and though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir…open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us, guides us. Passion rules us all and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace but we would be hollow, empty rooms shuttered and dank. Without passion we’d be truly dead.” Joss Wheadon

Originally posted as a guest blog from one year ago!


In Which I Pick Writing & Frenzy Changes Focus

A COUPLE MONTHS AGO, my friend Cindy and I were having a great conversation. I was talking about blogging and how much I loved it--but how I'm so far behind that it's hard to catch up.  I don't have time to read all the books I need to read or want to read after I get home from work. All I want to do is write--and when it comes to reading something or writing something.....writing time will always win.

She said the most profound thing to me. Simple but true. She said:  "You're at the point in your life where you have to decide what you want to be known for: do you want to be a book blogger or a writer? It's too hard to be both."

And in that moment I knew she was right. So I had to step up and make a decision. It hasn't been an easy decision, but I know it's the right one. (I almost put the WRITE one. I like puns.)

LIFE IS AN ADVENTURE. Sometimes we have to move on, and that may suck, but it's true. Sometimes we start a journey one way and then a few miles down the road we're going somewhere different. That's part of the adventure. Life is an adventure and we have to figure it out as we go or what's the point? 

My life has definitely changed a lot in the last few months. If you remember back in March, I wrote this post about my life before reading felt like homework.
"I started this blog because I wanted to share a) my writing life, which I don't do as much as I'd planned b) I have all these books in my head and all these thoughts with no one to tell and I needed an outlet (my head is crowded enough!) c) maybe someone would read about a book I loved or something I'm dealing with in my writing and learn or connect or discover something new. That was why I started a blog. This was never going to be a book blog.

But it is. Of course it is! I'm a writer, a bookseller, a reader--it's my life. And that's okay. I have to read incredible amounts of books and  live a life surrounded by words, so I don't mind. In fact, I love it."
And I did: love words, love blogging about books, love spending hours reading because I had so much time that I could do all those things!

BUT THEN THINGS CHANGED. Now I don't have as much time. I'm not a bookseller anymore. I've got a new "identity" and my life isn't books and words and stories. Well, it is, it's just a different way. Now I write a lot more. I fight for things I love. I try new things. 

To bring in the new,  Frenzy won't be book blog anymore; it will be...something else. I swear, this blog is the epitome of an identity crisis. Seriously. But it is my blog, and this too I am. Time to put on a new face and a new purpose. I'm really excited about it.

So what will Frenzy of Noise be now? 

I don't know! Isn't that exciting?!? I'll be talking about writing and life and all the things in between. It will be an adventure. I want to share it with you, if you want to be part of it. Plus, if you hang out, you may get to be part of all the new things I get to experience. And I definitely don't know what those are yet!

On the plus side, there are tons of fantastic YA Book Blogs out there--like Epic Book Adventures that my lovely blog partner started up just a couple weeks ago! There are others--many more--so I'm sure I won't be missed. Plus, I mean, I'm around. Being snarky and inspirational and whatever all over Twitter and Tangled Up In Words and (eventually) back here on Frenzy.

SEE YOU IN 2012! With a new year. A new blog design. A new purpose. Gah, I love adventures!!!

I hope you do too. And those of you who adventure with me---see you then.