10 Questions with Kelsey Kicklighter
Kelsey Kicklighter lives in a small southern town with the love of her life, their abnormally cute kid, two cats, and one three-legged dog. She writes stories for everyone who still believes in 398.2.
Her debut novel, Of Beast & Burden, is out May 10th, 2022.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself! Where do you call home and what do you write?
I’m a Media Specialist in Georgia and mom to a Pandemic baby. He has absolutely no fear and therefore I survive on caffeine and anxiety. I write Young Adult Fantasy, although I’ve been thinking lately about exploring New Adult Fantasy.
2. What drew you to that particular genre and/or age group?
I love coming-of-age stories. I think they’re so powerful, and they have a tendency to imprint on your heart because of that. I love writing for the youth that are going to change the world, but lately I’ve been drawn to the idea of writing for my own demographic as well. After all, adventures don’t end after high school.
3. What’s your best known work?
My debut, Of Beast and Burden, hits shelves on May 10th. It’s a YA Fantasy about the fae, heavily based in Celtic lore. I’m currently working on the sequel, and a fun little side project that’s a combination of Sailor Moon and Greek mythology, with a little bit of space opera thrown in. You know, for kicks.
4. What inspired you to write it?
Of Beast and Burden was inspired by my absolutely ravenous obsession for the fae. And also, David Bowie as the Goblin King. I always wondered why Sarah would choose to go back to the mortal realm when she could have stayed with Jareth.
5. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter, pantser or somewhere in between? How do you research?
Once I have an idea, I research like crazy. I love pulling inspiration from mythology, and while I don’t always stick to the source material, I do like to know it by heart. But as far as writing goes, I’m a pantser through and through. I usually have a general idea of the plot, and a few key scenes standing out in my head, but usually my characters and I are finding everything out together.
6. What’s the strangest or most interesting thing you’ve researched for your writing?
Probably the behaviors and capabilities of crows. Why are they so fascinating? Why is it so hard to convince a murder of crows to adopt me as their mistress?
7. What’s the most personal story/scene you’ve written and why?
I have a tendency to write in loose poetic form for a kind of self-therapy. I’ve written about ¾ of book that will never see the light of day, but it’s how I process my struggles with anxiety and some other trauma.
As far as my books go, there’s so much of myself in Of Beast and Burden. It wasn’t intentional, but I can see it in the way Gage takes the weight of the world on his shoulders, and the way Kellan hides his own brokenness behind flippant remarks and a wicked sense of humor. And for Faye… there’s more of me in Faye than I’d like to admit, honestly. God bless my poor little traumatized book babies.
8. Who are your literary influences? In what way?
This is such a difficult question! I have so many authors that I admire for different reasons. I love the way V. E. Schwabb is so experimental with her books, and is so open about mental health. I met Kendare Blake once at Yallfest, and she is the nicest person. You wouldn’t expect that from the way her books can be so freaking horrifying, but it’s true, and I love that she can do that. And if I can ever make a reader care for one of my characters even one tenth of what I felt for the Darkling from Leigh Bardugo, I’ll consider my writing career a success. The way that woman made me acknowledge my problematic views of morally gray love interests was rude, lol. (Side note, I’ve also met her in person and she was actually anything but rude. I was the last person in a signing line and she was so incredibly sweet, especially when I did that thing I have a tendency to do where I apologize for existing.)
9. What books are on your bedside table right now?
My TBR is atrociously long, but the ones towards the top are The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake, Only a Monster by Vanessa Len, The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh, and Extasia by Claire LeGrand. The only reason the newest Holly Black isn’t on that list is because it hasn’t shipped yet.
10. Last and most important, where can we find your books/stories?
Of Beast and Burden is available from most online booksellers (Bookshop, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Kobo.) My publisher is also running an awesome preorder campaign if you order through their site (Parliament House) by May 10th.
Follow Kelsey on these platforms!
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