A Talk With: Kelly Coon, on Gravemaidens

Hi friends! I’m back today with another author interview in A Talk With…!

In case you missed it, “A Talk With” is a brand new feature here on Drizzle & Hurricane Books, where I will invite young adult book authors to chat with me about their upcoming books, share their writing tips and tricks and more!

I’m so thrilled to welcome debut author Kelly Coon today on the blog! Her debut, Gravemaidens, is a tale about sisterhood, life and death in a stunning and inspired world. Keep on reading to find out more about the story, the author’s inspiration and more!

1. Can you describe Gravemaidens for us, only using…. 5 words?

HOOO BOY. Okay here we go:

Sisterhood, darkness, healing, bravery, heart

2. At the heart of your debut’s story are sisters and one’s deep need to protect the other. (I am ALL HERE FOR IT <3) Did you always know, when you started drafting this story, that sisters would be this important in it, or did it come afterwards? Did it matter a lot to you to write about strong sibling bonds?

That is an excellent question. NO, the sisterhood story wasn’t actually at the heart of it until I got my agent, Kari Sutherland. I had centered the story on Kammani, my 16yo healer when I queried the novel, but Kari, who used to be an editor at Harper Teen, suggested I make sure their relationship was one worth saving. There’s some tension and squabbling between Kammani and her chosen sister, Nanaea, as anyone with a sibling can attest is REAL, but there’s a deep love underlying it all.

3.Another thing I’m really eager to discover, is the fascinating fantasy world in which you’ve set Gravemaidens. How did you go about building it and keep track of the little details of this world as you drafted and edited? What were your inspirations for it? (Any pinterest board to share? Maybe? :D)

I was loosely inspired by Sumer when I first started writing the novel, but as I edited and changed and developed the world, it took on a life of its own and moved far away from the Fertile Crescent.

I keep a “Setting” document in Word in which I put everything related to my fantasy world.

Food, music, climate, religion, politics, clothing, mannerisms, familial structure, everything. I make sure to include as many aspects of culture as I possibly can when I’m first creating a world, and those details are imperative for me to build it in my head so I can write it. I refer to this document all the time! I also hand draw a map of my world with political and physical boundaries, but because I am a very unskilled artist, YOU MAY NOT SEE IT. THANKS FOR PLAYING.

No Pinterest board, unfortunately! I began to create one, then deleted it when I started spending more time collecting photos than actually writing. haha

4.Gravemaidens is set to be a duology (yay!), do you have any other books planned after that? Any hints about stories you’re writing and stories you would like to write and hopefully publish next?

Yes! Gravemaidens is the first in a duology and the sequel (title to be revealed at a later date) is set to publish in the fall of 2020. It involves some badass female warriors, a city in peril, and a little bit of bloodshed. 😉

I have a WIP that’s a SFF duology, but I have to be quiet about this one! I will say that it’s a loose Scarlet Letter retelling and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how the first book turned out.

I am also writing a contemporary with a speculative twist that is basically my heart pressed between the pages. It has two POVs and one of them is in verse! That’s a scary thing to write for me, but it’s flowing so well right now. Fingers crossed it continues! =)

1. What is the best underhyped book you have read lately? Any recommendations for us?

IMMORAL CODE by Lillian Clark. It’s a contemporary YA and it has everything – 5 POVs, hilarious, witty banter, a heist, and at the heart of it, the achy sort of friendship that either comes to a conclusion or explodes into something else at the end of your senior year of high school. I ADORED this novel and it got very little hype. YOU MUST CHECK IT OUT.

 2. If money, time, life, everything, weren’t an issue: what’s one thing you would dream of doing?

I’d love to do an extended tour of Germany, Scotland, and Croatia. Taste the food, visit the old gravesites (I’m a cemetary ghoul), drink the drinks. Heh. I’m kind of a mix of different heritages and would love to explore some of the places I know my ancestors are from.

3. Can you share one line of Gravemaidens with us?

How about a poem from The Boatman’s perspective?

The river is wide
The river is deep
I take their souls to earn my keep

The end of day
Is the start of night
I bathe in horror, bask in fright

Three queens of beauty
Maidens fair
I’ll hide their souls within my lair

For the river is wide
The river is deep
I take their souls to earn my keep

Thank you so, SO much for chatting with me today, Kelly! I had such a wonderful time with this interview and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did doing it all. Friends, keep an eye on Gravemaidens, this wonderful book is already available for you to order or seek at your local bookshop or library!

📖 More about Gravemaidens

Find & Order Gravemaidens

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 sandstone 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.

🎁 Order Gravemaidens and receive wonderful swag!

If you order a copy of Gravemaidens, you can receive some AWESOME goodies, friends, including…

  • A Gravemaidens bookmark,
  • A moth laptop sticker,
  • A signed bookplate,
  • A deleted scene from the book!!
  • To enter, you can order Gravemaidens or request it from your local library and update your receipt in the form right here!

This order campaign runs while supplies last and is open internationally. Prices vary depending on your location. Check out the author’s website for more information!

📖 More about the author, Kelly Coon

Kelly Coon is a young adult author represented by Kari Sutherland of Bradford Lit, an editor for Blue Ocean Brain, a member of the Washington Post Talent Network, a former high school English teacher, and the author of two test prep guides, ACT STRATEGY SMART and ACE THE ACT.

Kelly was the test prep expert for About.com for seven years, and has been published with both Scholastic and MSN in the education arena. In the parenting realm, Kelly has been published in The Washington Post, Scary Mommy, ParentMap, Folks, and others sites, regaling tales of life in the trenches with her three boys. She adores giving female characters the chance to flex their muscles and use their brains, and wishes every story got the happy ending she’s living near Tampa with her sons, brilliant husband, and a rescue pup who will steal your sandwich. Gravemaidens is her debut novel.

Find Kelly Coon on:
💻 Website 📱 Twitter 📷 Instagram  📖Goodreads


Do you want to read Gravemaidens? Did you read it already?

What are some latest ya fantasy books you adored reading? I’d love to hear from you in comments!





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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. 📚 |🌍 | 💞 Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

8 thoughts on “A Talk With: Kelly Coon, on Gravemaidens

  1. I really need to read this sometime (: I might treat myself to a copy of it once I’ve finished my library stack and read my most recent purchases as if sounds amazing. I also like the sound of both of the possible future works. I’m always wary about novels that are in verse but if one pov is and the other isn’t it could be a pretty good way to test that sort of story out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely loved reading this interview!! And this book includes sisterhood— YES!!! 😍 Plus the detail of the worldbuilding sounds incredible and keeping it on a word doc is a great idea because my handwritten notes are so messy!! 😂 also getting distracted by Pinterest is such a mood!!
    The immoral code also sounds like a really great book too!!
    Thank you for sharing this!! ❤ I loved it!!

    Liked by 1 person

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