MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR KELLEY YORK
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
I’m Kelley York, and I write young adult and new adult books. Most of them are contemporary with darker twists, bordering on suspense or thriller. My newest series, however, is a historical paranormal series set in the late 19th century England. Most of my books feature LGBTQ+ characters, as well.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
For A Light Amongst Shadows, I was desperate to branch out and try something different. I’ve always been drawn to paranormal, but never felt I had any solid, good, original ideas. When I started toying around with the idea of trying a historical m/m story, Rowan (my spouse and co-author on this series) realized we could totally make this spooky.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
LOTS. There’s so much to learn about other time periods. Aside from reading general Victorian-era books on how they ate, slept, dressed, and lived, I’ve looked up topics from boarding school classes and uniforms, plumbing (or lack thereof), bathing habits, slang, and views on homosexuality in the Victorian era. What’s more, because this is set in England and not the US, there’s also a big culture shift for me. Thankfully I had some UK friends who were able to help in that department.
Can you tell me about your Series?
The Dark is the Night series centers around a group of boys who met at a boarding school. While book one deals with their first foray into (unwilling) ghost-hunting, book two sees William and James making it a profession post-graduation.
Do you have a favorite book out of this series?
Only book one is out so far—book two is scheduled for release November 1, 2018, and I have a novella tie-in that’s just about finished, as well. It’s hard to pick a favorite! I love them each for different reasons.
Was it always meant to become a series?
Absolutely. When plotting it out, there was no doubt in our heads we would have more than one book.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
My schedule is pretty crammed. I work a part-time job about 30 hours a week from home, so that occupies the first half of my day (including some weekends) and the occasional evening if I have overtime. I also do book cover design, which then takes up several more hours of my day. I have a family, so there are obligations there and wanting to spend time with them. Writing gets squeezed in wherever I can. If I know time is going to be short, I set a small goal of about 500 words. On days that I’m able to devote solely to writing, I can knock out 5,000+ if I know where a scene is going.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
The second book in the Dark is the Night series is called A Hymn in the Silence.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
I’m not sure if there’s a special meaning, per se, but I do choose names carefully. Sometimes by meaning, sometimes just by what sounds good. For A Light Amongst Shadows, I did research on popular names of that era.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
I’ve always wanted to write a fantasy series, and I’ve attempted to a few times. I have one fantasy book almost done, in fact. But the world-building is so daunting for me that I always chicken out! Maybe some day.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Finding the time, honestly. It’s hard to do when you have multiple jobs and a family and mental illnesses, so sometimes you have to really work to carve out the time and write even when motivation and energy levels are low.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Getting to share the stories in my head with the world, and hearing feedback that others have connected with them. With Suicide Watch in particular, I’ve gotten a lot of letters from readers thanking me for writing it, because it showed them they weren’t alone.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Although I wear a lot of different job hats right now, my ultimate goal is to write full-time. It’s what I love to do the most. Someday, I’m hoping we’ll live in a coastal city like Point Reyes, California, by the ocean, where the temperature never rises above 70 degrees, haha.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
I have a degree in Anthropology, and am putting thought into going for a Bachelors in Environmental Science with a focus on environmental conservation work. I love the environment and animals and want to help protect them.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I know other authors always say, “never read reviews!” but…I do. Even the bad ones. I NEVER respond to bad reviews. There’s nothing I could say to change their mind, so I shrug it off and move along. I’ll respond to good reviews only if the person tagged me in it on social media, otherwise I do my best to keep that distance and not step into reviewers’ territory. Dealing with the bad reviews is pretty easy for me. If I notice a common critique across reviews, I keep it in mind when writing future books. For the most part, however, I write darker stories and sometimes my books just don’t mesh well with a reader. That’s okay.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
Revisions. I hate revisions. Thankfully, I’ve gotten pretty good at writing very clean first drafts, so I usually keep those major revisions to a minimum.
What are you working on now?
The second book in the Dark is the Night series, which Rowan and I JUST finished the first draft for.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
Here’s a small scene from book two, A Hymn in the Silence:
Adelia, dressed for the day in her simple skirts and flat boots, folds her hands neatly together and watches Abraham impassively. “You must be exhausted, William, being so negative and pessimistic with yourself all the time.”
“I consider myself a realist,” I say dryly, rolling up my sleeves with a bit of a wince. “And realistically speaking, I probably cannot do this.”
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
This is hard, but I would have to say James and William from A Light Amongst Shadows. Maybe it’s because they’re currently in my head so much, but I love everything about them. A long-standing favorite is Vincent from Suicide Watch, though; there’s so much of me in him with his mental illnesses that it’s hard not to be attached.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Something mustering up the energy to start writing it exhausting, and some scenes—when they’re emotional—can be draining. Overall, though, I feel amazing after getting a few thousand words down, even if I’m tired!
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I recently talked about this on a podcast (though it’s not out yet) about my time spent trying to write to market, and how much it stifled me as a creator. I had to really step back and re-evaluate why I’m writing and the type of writer I am. As it turns out, I’m not the sort who can write for a trend or what I think readers want. I have to write whatever my heart is feeling in that moment.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have quite a number of author friends. Nyrae Dawn (aka Riley Hart) has been one of my best friends for about 8 or 9 years now. We met as critique partners in a writer’s forum and have stuck together. She’s always encouraging me and my weird ideas, helping me promote, and we help each other brainstorm when we’re stuck on plot points. She’s been so totally invaluable as a writing buddy and as a friend.
Where can your fans find you and follow??
I have a Facebook reader group here! This is where I’m most active. I have contests, post teasers, music, giveaways, and they get stuff like cover reveals and ARC opportunities before anyone else does. I also have a newsletter at the bottom of my website, and they also get things a bit earlier and have the occasional giveaway. And, of course, general news gets posted on my FB page here.
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview ❤️