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By Grant McKenzie

While Hurricane Sandy was taking a bite out of the East Coast, Dixie and I were trying to decide what exactly the Chinese buffet at San Francisco’s Hong Kong Phooey Buffet was trying to pass off as chicken. Chewing vigorously, Dixie was thinking a genetic cross between octopus and hamster — gamey with lots of little legs — while I was thinking it might be better to just pick around it. We were soon joined by thriller writer Kelley York who took one look and decided whatever it was, it couldn’t be any more dangerous than the glow-in-the-dark sauce. We couldn’t argue with that logic, but to take our minds off the squeamish possibilities, we quizzed Kelley about her new YA thriller HUSHED.

What can you tell us about HUSHED?

HUSHED is about a guy named Archer Pond making his way through a hit list, of sorts, compiled of people who hurt his childhood best friend/love when they were kids. It’s a dark book, and falls into that weird little category between young adult and adult fiction. (“New adult,” if you want to call it that.)

You begin with an intriguing opening statement: “I feel that suicide notes lose their zing when they drag on too long.” Which shows that YA isn’t afraid to go dark. Did you ever have any concerns about using this subject matter in a YA novel?

At the time I wrote it, no. I was just writing how I wanted to write. Later on, when I was shopping the book to agents, I had concerns about the darkness level. Many agents said they loved it, but felt it was too grim for any editor to want it.

Like most authors, your road to publication appears to have had its share of ups and downs. What are some of the highlights and lowlights?

Rejection is a huge part of being an author. There are roadblocks everywhere you turn! Rejection often outweighs the encouragement, too, which makes things difficult. HUSHED was my second completed book. But by the time it found its lovely home with Entangled Publishing, my first and third book had also made the agent rounds and didn’t get picked up.

You went on a Blog tour to promote HUSHED. How have you found social media to be a benefit, and what are some of the drawbacks.

Especially when publishers aren’t spending as much money on advertising these days, social media is crucial. I met a ton of amazing bloggers and reviewers, as well as fellow authors, who to this day still help promote my books and get the word out, which is something I never could have done on my own.

As for drawbacks…well, social media is definitely a time-suck. It takes a lot of energy and time to really make yourself known. Suffice to say, I’m certainly not famous on any social media because I don’t have that energy or time to devote like some are able to.

Have you always been drawn to the YA genre?

Pretty much. Growing up, I read a lot of kids’ fantasy. I tried several times to write something fantasy-esque, but it never happened. I love the upper teen years when “kids” are starting to get their first real taste of freedom and independence.

The heart of HUSHED appears to be about obsession and the levels some people will go to in the name of love. How far would you go?

Definitely not as far as Archer! Ha, ha. I think loving someone means not just wanting to protect them from everything and shielding them from the world, but helping them when they lose their way.

What’s next for Kelley York?

MADE OF STARS, my next contemporary thriller comes out in 2013 (summer, I think) from Entangled Publishing. I have a self-published paranormal YA out now, titled HOLLOWED, and the second in that series is pending. I also have another contemporary in the works.


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.)

To learn more about Kelley, please visit her website.

Grant McKenzie
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