By: Kelsey Sutton
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2019
A sound awakens her. There’s darkness all around. And then she’s falling…
She has no idea who or where she is. Or why she’s dead. The only clue to her identity hangs around her neck: a single rusted key. This is how she and the others receive their names—from whatever belongings they had when they fell out of their graves. Under is a place of dirt and secrets, and Key is determined to discover the truth of her past in order to escape it.
She needs help, but who can she trust? Ribbon seems content in Under, uninterested in finding answers. Doll’s silence hints at deep sorrow, which could be why she doesn’t utter a word. There’s Smoke, the boy with a fierceness that rivals even the living. And Journal, who stays apart from everyone else. Key’s instincts tell her there is something remarkable about each of them, even if she can’t remember why.
Then the murders start; bodies that are burnt to a crisp. After being burned, the dead stay dead. Key is running out of time to discover who she was—and what secret someone is willing to kill to keep hidden—before she becomes the next victim…
1) What is on your desk or where you write? What do you need to write? Do you have a writer’s survival kit?
I write either at home or at a coffee shop; I can’t seem to be productive anywhere else. When I’m at home, it’s on the couch. Usually covered by a blanket with the fireplace on. There is always, always a drink near me, whether that’s coffee, wine, etc. That drink pretty much makes up the entirety of my writerly survival kit! Haha.
2) What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a panster? Which do you prefer: drafting or revising?
I’m a little bit of both, I think. I always know the beginning, a few events throughout the story, and the end. Those scenes usually get written first. I do prefer the drafting process, simply because I’ve had some rough experiences/memories when it comes to revisions. So drafting is overall more positive for me.
3) What is your number one writing tip?
Write like your book is never going to be published or seen by another person; it gives you such a sense of freedom and recklessness. It also makes the process more fun, in general!
4) Describe you book in 5 words or less
Historical, eerie, suspenseful, gritty, dark.
5) A book goes through a lot of different versions and rounds of editing before it’s complete. What are some “fun facts” or behind the scenes info you can share about the characters from your book or the world you created for it that may or may not have made it to the final draft of the book?
Great question! The first answer that comes to mind is really the biggest metamorphosis Smoke and Key underwent. When this story was first sent to Entangled Teen, it had a completely different love interest. The main character actually ended up with this person. But once my editor finished reading, she told me Smoke just had to be the star. It involved a lot of rewriting and a lot of shifting around, but in the end it was definitely worth it!
6) Do you have a special story, a discovery you made while doing research, or an innocuous thought that grew into something bigger that is behind your inspiration for Smoke & Key?
Honestly, the inspiration behind this book was Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride. I just adored the feel, setting, and characters of that book, but it wasn’t dark enough for my tastes! I call Smoke and Key my love letter to Tim Burton.
7) Who was your favorite character to write and who gave you the most trouble?
Smoke was hands-down my favorite to write. His sexiness and snarky comments appeared on the page without any effort.
The character that gave me the most trouble, weirdly enough, was Key. She’s the sort of person who prefers to stay in her own head most of the time, and that just didn’t work with this story! So it took some extra finagling to make her interact with other characters or leave her books behind.
8) If you could ask a character of your choice from Smoke & Key one question what would it be?
I would absolutely want to talk to Smoke. My question would probably be, “Would you ever ditch Key and go out with me?”
Totally not weird…
9) What scene from the book are you most proud of (because of how you handled the atmosphere, characters, dialogue, etc)?
Oh, the climax. That was so tricky to write. A lot of things are happening at once, a ton of things are being revealed, and a ton of the characters are involved. So it was a matter of making the chaos clear to the reader and reaching the conclusion I wanted.
10) What is your favorite quote from the book and why? This can range from funny to poignant or it could just make you sound super suave or clever.
We are ghosts, but we are the ones being haunted.
Mostly because every time I read it, I’m startled by how lovely and true it is.
11) Is there a scene that you had difficulty with and just had to “power through” to finish the book? Or a scene that made you very emotional?
This is so difficult to answer without giving away spoilers! There is one scene that involves unrequited love being confronted, and that was really hard to write/get through, especially since you get so invested in the characters.
12) What is next for you? What are your currently working on?
This is always my favorite question. I am actually self-publishing for the first time this year! The novel will be the first in a series. It’s an adult urban fantasy entitled Fortuna Sworn. It’s already on Goodreads, and I’ll soon be putting it up on Amazon for pre-order! Here’s the synopsis:
Fortuna Sworn is the last of her kind.
Her brother disappeared two years ago, leaving her with no family or species to speak of. She hides among humans, spending her days working at a bar and her nights searching for him. The bleak pattern goes on and on… until she catches the eye of a powerful faerie.
He makes no attempt to hide that he desires Fortuna. And in exchange for her, he offers something irresistible. So Fortuna reluctantly leaves her safe existence behind to step back into a world of creatures and power.
It soon becomes clear that she may not have bargained with her heart, but her very life.
Kelsey Sutton is a young adult and middle grade author. She lives in Minnesota, where she received a dual bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from Bemidji State University. She will soon have a master’s degree from Hamline University. Her work has received an Independent Publisher Book Award, an IndieFab Award, and was selected as a Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2013. When not writing, Kelsey can be found watching too much Netflix, ordering a mocha at the nearest coffee shop, or browsing a bookstore. You can visit her online at www.kelseysuttonbooks.com, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter or Instagram.
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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. The author image, info, giveaway, and more were provided by the publisher.