Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon – Interview

Hello everyone! So, I’m soooo excited because today’s interview is with Kelly Coon, the author of Gravemaidens which sounds wicked awesome! Before we get into the (not spoilery) interview, here is a synopsis of the book, via Goodreads:

  1. To start off, how did you come up with the idea for Gravemaidens and what was first running through your mind right after you thought of the idea for it?

I’ve always been fascinated by ancient tombs and old graveyards. Walking around headstones that are hundreds of years old or seeing ruins that were built by someone thousands of years ago just gives me chills in the most macabre way. I always wonder who those people were. Were they anything like me? Did they stand right where I’m standing and look up at the sky and wonder if it was going to rain? Since this kind of stuff is super interesting to me, I naturally read a lot about it. One day, I was reading about tombs in Mesopotamia and happened upon a story about a queen who was buried with three maidens who had been sacrificed and placed in at her side to serve her in the afterlife. Chills ran up my spine as I wondered who those girls were and what they might have been promised to agree to give up their lives. I also wondered…had they agreed at all? Or were they forced? Then I wondered how I would feel if one of those girls had been my sister, and what I might do to protect her from her gruesome fate. So, Kammani and Nanaea came to be.

  1. Were there any specific experiences in your life that you think lend themselves to you becoming a writer/writing Gravemaidens?

As a kid, I grew up in a very strict, fundamentalist culture. I never used to hear about myself in the stories I read. It was always men leading the charge to fight the enemies or take down kings. So, I used to rewrite those stories, giving girls the leads. As I grew up, I kept on writing stories and reading everything I could get my hands on. In high school, I was on the journalism staff and became the editor of the yearbook, then majored in creative writing in my undergrad. So….writing has always been a part of who I am.

  1. Is Kammani or Nanaea based on you or anyone you know in real life?

Kammani is not very much like me at all, outside of her drive. She’s more compassionate than I think I could ever be and has a level of selflessness I’m not sure I could master outside of parenthood. But Nanaea came to be because of two people: my older sister and my younger cousin, who is like a sister to me. They aren’t really like Nanaea, per se, but the fierce protectiveness that Kammani feels toward Nanaea is inspired by how I feel toward my sister and my cousin.

  1. The names in Gravemaidens are so unique, how did you come up with them?

I went back to Mesopotamia! Since this story is loosely inspired by Sumer, I researched Sumerian and other Mesopotamian names and derived them from there. Many of the names I found were hyphenated or included a god (Ishtar-Bellessa, for one), so I shortened them to make them a little easier to say. =)

  1. What is your favorite thing about writing and what is your least favorite thing?

I actually love the gritty work. I love plotting out my story in detail with percentages where my plot points will land, and I love taking a critique, turning it into actionable items, and revising step by step. My least favorite thing is drafting, honestly. I love the creative moments when they come, but a lot of drafting is just hard work sometimes. The beauty really comes in it for me during the revision stage.

  1. Was there anything you found surprising either in writing the book or in the pre-debut process in general?

Oh gosh, yes! The debut process is a trip. I’m learning just how many people are needed to take the idea from my head and turn it into a book that will be good enough to sit on a shelf. Without my critique partners, beta readers, editor, copy-editors, agent, and half a dozen writing friends reading and giving me feedback, I’m not sure I’d have anything to publish at all.

  1. Is there any advice you have for writers hoping to become a published author?

Be smarter than I was. I was super persistent, but I didn’t really have a growth mindset. I tried and tried and tried some more to get an agent, but I didn’t take the critiques with as much seriousness as I should have. I figured it was a “them, not me” kind of thing, when in fact, it was definitely all me. Learn the craft of writing novels. It’s not good enough that you’re a good writer. You have to be a good novelist and understand what that means! I recommend picking up some craft books like The Anatomy of Story by John Truby and The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maas and studying as if you were taking a college class. A free resource I use all the time is K.M. Weiland’s website, which is chock full of incredible storytelling help.

  1. Since Gravemaidens comes out during spooky month (aka October lol), what are some of your favourite spooky books?

Ooooh, good question. A couple of spooky debuts I’ve read this year that I absolutely love are THE BONE GARDEN by Heather Kassner (dark, whimsical MG with graveyards and sentient body parts), HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS by Erin Craig (holy bathtub tentacle scares) and WILDER GIRLS by Rory Power (body horror, freakish tension, and murderous wild things).

  1. Also, do you have a Halloween tradition? If so, what do you do?

I do! I have three boys and Halloween is their favorite time of year. We decorate the yard with gruesome, shrieking animatronics like a grim reaper, a zombie head that’s eating a rat, and a six-foot tall bloodied werewolf. You’d think my kids would be scared, but they are absolutely not. We all dress up, and the dads take the kids trick-or-treating while my girlfriends and I stay back and pass out candy to the mostly terrified children who come to my front door.

  1. And, for the final question, if your characters wore costumes for Halloween, what/who do you think they would be?

Kammani would dress up as a doctor and probably warn the other kids not to eat too much candy.

Nanaea would be a unicorn, but a super glam unicorn with an outfit that showed off her curves and the BEST glittery makeup so she stood out in the crowd.

Iltani, Kammani’s best friend, would dress up as Harley Quinn, and would be happy smashing pumpkins with a baseball bat.

Nin Arwia, the princess, would be Ursula, the sea witch, and would find two kids to follow her around like Flotsam and Jetsam.

Dagan, Kammani’s childhood friend (and absolutely not a love interest. Absolutely not.) would be an inflatable dinosaur to try to get Kammani to laugh.

Nasu, the head guardsman, would be a Fortnite character hanging at Nin Arwia’s elbow to protect her.

17 Songs To Play At Your Halloween Party

The week of Halloween parties begins today and one thing that should be spooky good is your party playlist. In an effort to help, here are 17 bloody amazing songs to play:

  1. This is Halloween from The Nightmare Before Christmas
  2. Gangsta by Kehlani
  3. I Put A Spell On You by Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson, and Jordin Sparks
  4. Dionysus by BTS
  5. Natural by Imagine Dragons
  6. Thriller by Michael Jackson
  7. Genius by Sia, Diplo, and Labrinth
  8. Monster by EXO
  9. Walls Could Talk by Halsey
  10. Nightmare by Halsey
  11. I Write Sins, Not Tragedies by Panic! At The Disco
  12. bad guy by Billie Eilish
  13. Problem (The Monster Remix) by Becky G ft
  14. Calling All The Monsters by China Anne-McClain
  15. I’m In Love With A Monster by Fifth Harmony
  16. Disturbia by Rihanna
  17. Monster Mash by Bobby Pickett

Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon – Waiting on Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly bookish meme created by Breaking The Spine to highlight some of the upcoming books you can’t wait to read!

Gravemaidens (Gravemaidens, #1)Summary, courtesy of Goodreads: “The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave. 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.”

Why I Can’t Wait:

  • honestly, it all comes down to the cover like it just sold me completely and that was it lol


Catch it on shelves October 29th, 2019!

Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters by Emily Roberson – Waiting on Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly bookish meme created by Breaking The Spine to highlight some of the upcoming books you can’t wait to read!

Lifestyles of Gods and MonstersSummary, courtesy of Goodreads: “Sixteen-year-old Ariadne’s whole life is curated and shared with the world. Her royal family’s entertainment empire is beloved by the tabloids, all over social media, and the hottest thing on television. The biggest moneymaker? The Labyrinth Contest, a TV extravaganza in which Ariadne leads fourteen teens into a maze to kill a monster. To win means endless glory; to lose means death. In ten seasons, no one has ever won. When the gorgeous, mysterious Theseus arrives at the competition and asks Ariadne to help him to victory, she doesn’t expect to fall for him. He might be acting interested in her just to boost ratings. Their chemistry is undeniable, though, and she can help him survive. If he wins, the contest would end for good. But if she helps him, she doesn’t just endanger her family’s empire―the monster would have to die. And for Ariadne, his life might be the only one worth saving. Ariadne’s every move is watched by the public and predestined by the gods, so how can she find a way to forge her own destiny and save the people she loves?”

Why I Can’t Wait:

  • it’s like the Kardashians meets Greek Mythology which is already a lot of drama lol
  • tbh I got an ARC of it and already read it and it’s goooooooooodddddddddd


Catch it on shelves October 20th, 2019!

Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao – Waiting on Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly bookish meme created by Breaking The Spine to highlight some of the upcoming books you can’t wait to read!

Our Wayward FateSummary, courtesy of Goodreads: “Seventeen-year-old Ali Chu knows that as the only Asian person at her school in middle-of-nowhere Indiana, she must be bland as white toast to survive. This means swapping her congee lunch for PB&Js, ignoring the clueless racism from her classmates and teachers, and keeping her mouth shut when people wrongly call her Allie instead of her actual name, pronounced Āh-lěe, after the mountain in Taiwan. Her autopilot existence is disrupted when she finds out that Chase Yu, the new kid in school, is also Taiwanese. Despite some initial resistance due to the “they belong together” whispers, Ali and Chase soon spark a chemistry rooted in competitive martial arts, joking in two languages, and, most importantly, pushing back against the discrimination they face. But when Ali’s mom finds out about the relationship, she forces Ali to end it. As Ali covertly digs into the why behind her mother’s disapproval, she uncovers secrets about her family and Chase that force her to question everything she thought she knew about life, love, and her unknowable future. Snippets of a love story from nineteenth-century China (a retelling of the Chinese folktale The Butterfly Lovers) are interspersed with Ali’s narrative and intertwined with her fate.”

Why I Can’t Wait:

  • it involves a retelling!!!!!!!!
  • it involves family secrets

Catch it on shelves October 15th, 2019!

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