I am absolutely thrilled to be today’s stop on the Hushed blog tour as it gave me the opportunity to ask author Kelley York all those burning questions I had about her just-released debut book Hushed.
By participating in the tour, I was also lucky enough to get a chance to read Hushed early and what an amazing read it was. If you’d like to see what I had to say about this captivating, dark and edgy story, feel free to check out my spoiler-free review.
In case you haven’t yet heard about this awesome book, here’s what Goodreads has to say….
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.
And if you’d like to take a longer look inside Hushed on the publisher’s website, CLICK HERE.
Who is Kelley York?
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
Q. Hushed is a wonderfully dark and captivating read. It starts off and gets right to the chase and keeps on delivering those shocks. For someone who hasn’t yet added it to their TBR pile, in one sentence, how would you, as the author, describe Hushed?
A. HUSHED is a dark look into the human psyche, and explores the deadly lengths some will go to for the ones they love.
[Fiktshun: Oooh! I love, love, love this!]
Q. Evan is really the only bright spot in this book. When you brought him into the story, was he meant to be Archer’s redemption? Or did that change as the story progressed?
A. Originally, Archer wasn’t meant to have much redemption. It wasn’t a conscious decision to change anything, since I didn’t plot anything out. I had this vague idea that Archer would be alone (or, you know, dead) at the end of the book. Within two chapters of Evan’s introduction, I realized that was going to change. His character was immediately drawn to Archer and he wanted to make everything better. (Far be it for me to stand between that, right?)
Q. Archer and Vivian seem like polar opposites in terms of personalities – one is organized, quiet, calm and the other is fiery, frantic, chaotic. Yet both were incredibly broken. What did you like most about writing Vivian’s character? And Archer’s?
A. I love Vivian’s chaotic temperament. I love how she can twist a situation and justify everything she does. Archer gets mad at her for something, and she so effortlessly (and unconsciously!) folds it back on him. In this way, she’s damaged Archer more than what he witnessed as a kid did. For Archer, I love his shyness. His hesitance toward Evan and how, the closer he wants to be, the more he draws away.
[Fiktshun: I have to say that I love both Viv’s chaos and Archer’s shyness. They balance each other out sooo well!]
Q. In another interview you mentioned changing the ending. Having read Hushed, I see how that other ending works just as well as this one – a dark book with an even darker ending definitely has an appeal. What made you decide to end this on a happier note – and I say “happier” not “happy”?
A. Like I mentioned above, it wasn’t a conscious change. Archer started out with the lot of the flaws Vivian has. The manipulative qualities and whatnot. But quickly, Viv took those over and she turned from a sweeter, more sympathetic character into…well, who she is in the book now. My characters always take routes all their own whether I like it or not. Archer became this character I felt desperately needed a second chance, so I’m glad the story steered toward the ‘happier’ (not happy!) ending. In retrospect, the original ending I had in mind would’ve been very flat. It would’ve felt like, “All of this, and for nothing.”
[Fiktshun: Oh, I don’t know about flat…. Those kinds of endings make a huge impact, though I’m imagining quite a few irate fans.]
Q. Archer Pond seems like someone who is starved for affection. The slightest outreach from Evan made such a huge difference. You mentioned that originally Archer’s feelings toward Evan went unrequited, as they did with Vivian. If Archer’s affections weren’t returned by either character, how might that have changed him and the story?
A. Having not one, but two people he loved, turn him away would have utterly ruined him. He would’ve been convinced he was the monster everyone said he was, and I doubt there would have been any saving him at that point.
[Fiktshun: Well, then I’m so incredibly glad that Evan returned Archer’s feelings.]
Q. I am such a huge fan of dark, morbid and unhappily-ever-after stories. Hushed has so many of those wonderful qualities. But you changed the ending to one that is slightly less grim, you added in a love story where there originally had been none. Were there any changes from the original that added darker elements where they may have once been more optimistic?
A. Marissa and everything she brought into the story, as well as the stuff with Archer’s parents, were all additions that cropped up as I wrote and weren’t intentional nor planned. The way things ended with Vivian, too, is definitely darker and grimmer than I originally thought it would be.
[Fiktshun: Oh yes, Marissa did bring in a kinder and gentler aspect to this story. Though Archer’s parents…. I will say nothing about that situation.]
A. I’m not much of a snacker while I write. I need lots and lots of soda, though.
Q. What are your favorite writing distractions when you’ve hit a wall?
A. Movies, video games, Facebook games…
[Fiktshun: Oh, Facebook games are sooooo addictive!]
Q. What are some of your favorite dark contemporary reads?
A. GONE, GONE, GONE by Hannah Moskowitz is fairly dark, as was BROTHER/SISTER by Sean Olin. LARK by Tracy Porter was good.
Q. Do you prefer writing from a male main character’s p.o.v. or a female main character’s and why?
A. I can do both, though I seem to lean toward male POV and I’m not sure why.
Q. If you had to pick your favorite character from Hushed, who would it be and why?
A. Definitely Archer. He was the first of the characters to appear in my head, and he’s such a good person underneath it all. He’s just, you know, broken.
[Fiktshun: Here’s to being broken. The broken make for such amazing characters to read about!]
Q. If you had to pick your favorite character from another dark contemporary book who would it be and why?
A. Ohh. Maybe Will from BROTHER/SISTER? He was so very broken and wanted to do what was right.
And now it’s time to play…
“This” or “That”
Q. Happy endings or tragic endings?
Q. Love stories or unrequited love?
— Unrequited love.
Q. Writing in silence or writing with music?
Q. Writing in the morning, afternoon, evening or dead of night?
— Dead of night.
Q. Mac or PC?
Q. Outlining or free writing?
— Free writing.
[Fiktshun: I absolutely love all these answers. I, for one, am all about the unrequited love story. There’s nothing quite as tragic. And the dead of night is the perfect time to write – fewer distractions and don’t all dark thoughts come in the dead of night?]
I am so unbelievably happy with all these answers. Thank you so much for stopping by and answering every single one of my questions. Had I know this was a possibility, I might have been even greedier and asked just a few more!
Published by Entangled Publishing, the print edition is 242 pages.
Here’s what people are saying:
‘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 —