Book signing Sept. 24 at Scout & Morgan Books
By Elizabeth Sias
Cambridge native Kendare Blake now resides in Seattle, but she’ll return to her hometown next month for a book signing for her upcoming young adult novel, Anna Dressed in Blood, to be released Aug. 30.
The event will be held at Scout & Morgan Books on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be cake for guests who arrive early. For those who cannot attend but would like a signed book, call Scout & Morgan at 763-689-2474 to reserve a copy.
The book has received endorsements from New York Times bestsellers Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments series) and Holly Black (The Curse Workers and Tithe), as well as Stacey Kade (The Ghost and the Goth) and Courtney Allison Moulton (Angelfire). Just recently, it landed a starred review from Kirkus: “Abundantly original, marvelously inventive and enormous fun, this can stand alongside the best horror fiction out there. We demand sequels.” And, it was nominated to the American Library Association’s list for Reluctant Readers. Anna Dressed in Blood will be published in the U.S. and Canada, followed by the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Thailand, with more territories to follow.
Blake had another book published, Sleepwalk Society, which came out last summer. Anna Dressed in Blood is the first in a two-book series; the sequel, Girl of Nightmares, comes out next summer. The author can be found online at www.kendareblake.com.
The Isanti County News spoke with Blake about her upcoming novel, the writing process and more.
How did you first get into writing?
I always read. I was a crazy reader from when I was a child, always at the library, and writing sort of became my favorite subject in school. I naturally developed from there and started wondering if I could write something story length or novel length. I wrote some things in middle school — horrible things — then tried more in high school.
I wrote my first novel while I was living in Cambridge after I graduated from college. The writing never went away; I was always writing different things. After I wrote my first novel, I thought I should go for it.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
The entire creative process and getting to know the characters. I don’t plot, so I kind of get to find out the story as I go along — really it’s like interactive reading. I used to plot like crazy, and when I wrote Anna Dressed in Blood, I just quit and let it go, and it worked.
What appeals to you about the horror genre and writing for young adults?
Young readers are particularly important. Turning people into readers for life is awesome, and they read so much — they’re crazy hungry for books and I love that. Horror I think comes from growing up; one of the first books I read was Stephen King, then I went into Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, so I’ve always enjoyed it but never written it until now.
What is the writing and publishing process like for you?
One day I start writing, and I write a few hours a day for four to six months for me to put a novel down, then send it off to my editor. She reads it and types up big mounts of pages of notes of what she wants changed, added or cut, then I go into edits to make those changes or explain why I don’t want to make those changes and send the manuscript back to her. She goes through and does line editing, which is more specific — making small adjustments to the sentences themselves — then sends that back to me for my approval. Then it goes to a copy editor who checks for grammatical errors, character consistencies, plot lines, time consistencies, etcetera, and finally they’ll send it back for approval.
At the same time, the design department will be working up a cover, marketing will happen, getting endorsements and so on.
For Anna Dressed in Blood, I finished the manuscript in April 2010 and it was maybe two months later that I landed my agent. It was two weeks after the first round of agent revisions that we went on to publishers, and it was two months after that that we got the publisher. There’s a lot of lead time and production.
What advice would you give to other writers hoping to get published?
The best advice for aspiring writers is to read. Read everything — read in your genre, read outside of your genre, pay attention to the things that you love, pay attention to why you particularly like this or that character. Listen to the way people talk so you can focus on realistic dialogue.
Find a critique group. Find other writers so you can sit around and talk to them — a second set of eyes on your work before it goes off to editors and agents — you have to have that.
About the book, Anna Dressed in Blood:
Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story…
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.