Kelly Coon | Gravemaidens
by Kelly Coon
In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.
When Alu's ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.
But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.
Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.
October 29th, 2019
Introduce yourself and your debut novel!
HELLO! I’m Kelly Coon, YA author of GRAVEMAIDENS, the first book in a YA fantasy duology, where beautiful girls like Nanaea are chosen to go into the Netherworld with their dying rulers. It’s an honor. A privilege. But Kammani, Nanaea’s 16-year-old sister, sees this as a death sentence, and will stop at nothing to save Nanaea, even if it means sacrificing everything, including herself.
What’s the most surprising part about your debut journey so far?
I have absolutely been astounded by the level of support given to me by my fellow debut group. Being a part of the Novel19s has been a beautiful, wonderful surprise. I’ve felt welcomed, nurtured, and taken in by this group of writers and of all the things I’ve learned this year—and there have been many—this collective group hug has been the best.
Give a shout-out to a fellow debut!
WOO! I love this. I’m going to send a huge HIGH FIVE and ALL THE NERDY GIRL LOVE to Lillian Clark, author of IMMORAL CODE which came out in February. She’s a fellow member of Class2k19 with me and has been a critique partner, a cheerleader, and a fellow commiseration queen during this year. I have many people in this group I can call friends, true friends, who I know would do anything for me, but Lillian in particular, has been my rock this year. Also? She writes like a beast. If you haven’t read her debut, or haven’t yet added her 2020 release HALF LIFE to your Goodreads, DO ITTTTT.
Who is your favorite character?
Ooooh, this is tough. I really like Kammani, my protagonist because she is brave, fiercely loyal, and a true feminist at heart. She’s a lot more compassionate and patient than I’ve ever been in my life, however, so a big part of me connects with Iltani, her best friend. Iltani is a bit of a wild cat. She’s reckless, a smart mouth, and does whatever she wants, whenever she wants, and I have a touch of Iltani living inside of me that tries to break out every now and again. Thankfully, I tend to keep her corralled most of the time.
What’s a cool thing about your book that isn’t in the blurb?
Someone may or may not kiss someone else in this book while the other person tries to slit their throat. Both are a little desperate at this point. Heh. Sorry, not sorry.
What advice would you give to a new writer?
Don’t allow other people to dictate whether or not you get to follow your dreams. And ALSO, before you plunge into writing a novel and send it off to get rejected by fifty agents, learn what you’re doing wrong. Actively seek out information about novel-writing. Blogs, books, podcasts, conferences, etc. STUDY THEM. I spent years—YEARS I TELL YOU—doing the same things that weren’t getting me an agent, before I recognized that I needed a growth mindset. I had to learn how to write a novel. It wasn’t enough that I was a good writer; I had to be good at this particular medium.
Describe your writing space.
My writing space is a hot mess express. I have a giant white board in my office where I keep notes of things I need to do, and that is very organized. And my work itself is very organized – I use Scrivener and write from a detailed plot outline. But my desk looks like a Staples exploded all over it. Once every month or so I clean it up and vow to keep all my junk organized, but invariably, it devolves into chaos.
What book or author has most influenced your own writing?
Honestly, if it weren’t for KM Weiland, I would not have gotten this two-book deal from Delacorte Press, which was virtually like being handed my dreams on a shiny, gold-plated platter. I studied her website like it was a college class (once I broke out of my fixed mindset), and soaked in her kind of formula for plot design. Once I had that down, I felt confident to write GRAVEMAIDENS. And when I queried it to 11 agents, I got 11 requests for fulls and two offers within a week. So…however she explains plotting and character arc and all the rest, it worked for me.
Share a character aesthetic!
Okay, so this is a little aesthetic I did for Dagan, Farmer’s Son, Kammani’s love interest, childhood friend. He’s loyal and true, and knows exactly what he wants for the rest of his life (and her name rhymes with Shammani.) Kammani, on the other hand, isn’t so sure that she can manage everything she needs to manage and still have room in her heart for love. 😉
Kelly, your book sounds so amazing! I can't wait to read it on 10/29/19!
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