Balancing Darkness with Humour and Hope: Kendare Blake Gets Real with her Writing Process

A New, Creepy Murder Mystery Just in Time for October
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Balancing Darkness with Humour and Hope: Kendare Blake Gets Real with her Writing Process

Balancing Darkness with Humour and Hope: Kendare Blake Gets Real with her Writing Process 

It’s official! The spooky month is here and Kendare Blake is here to deliver an eerie, bone-chilling tale that might just have you checking the darkest corners of your house. All These Bodies tells the story of an infamous murder mystery titled “The Bloodless Murders”, where multiple people are found dead with their bodies drained of all blood and no explanation. The people in the middle of it all? A 15-year-old girl and the 17-year old boy she’ll only tell her story to. I had the opportunity to ask Kendare about where she finds her inspiration for All These Bodies and how she creates a masterful story like this. Blake doesn’t hold back on the creepiness factor in All These Bodies which makes it the perfect balance alongside the thrilling events that occur. A spine-chilling murder mystery mixed with rip-roaring happenings and just a little bit of humour, you won’t want to miss All These Bodies by Kendare Blake! 

Here’s what she shared. 

  1. What inspired you to write a dark story like All These Bodies?

Cue up some Simon and Garfunkel, because darkness is my old friend. Hello, old friend! I can’t get away from it. Four of my novels actually have the word ‘dark’ in them (the Three Dark Crowns series). I do want to mention though, that despite the dark themes and elements, none of my books are ever intended to be grim. I have to balance the darkness with humour and hope. Well, not so much humour in the case of All These Bodies, a vampire-infused twist on true crime, which is just murder, murder, murder, doomed girl, more murder—but there’s still some healing in there, and human connection. 

2. What did you enjoy most about writing characters like Marie and Michael?

What I like best about Michael is his willingness to listen and learn. He’s a good, earnest kid, with a huge heart who just wants to do the right thing. To do a good job, be a good journalist. Find the truth. 

What I loved most about Marie was her defiance, and her drive to tell her own truth. She’s an accused murderer, and so, hard to like. She’s a girl, so maybe easy to dismiss. She’s an enigma, and she alone knows what happened to all these murdered people. She’s the crux of the story, and she was the hardest character to write, but I loved writing her.

3. Did you draw inspiration from real-world murder mysteries?

All These Bodies was inspired by two real crimes: the murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, which was famously profiled by Truman Capote in his novel, In Cold Blood; and the 11 victim murder spree perpetrated by 19-year-old Charlie Starkweather and his 14-year-old girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate. Both took place in the late 1950s.

I was mainly interested in Caril: this young girl, practically a child, who insisted she was innocent, and who no one seemed to believe. She was convicted, but her trial was a bit of a farce, and she’d been maligned by the press. In my research of the case, I went back and forth on whether she was guilty or innocent, and I still don’t know. To this day, only Caril really knows the truth. 

4. Are you a crime junkie? If so, do you listen to any crime podcasts, watch crime shows, or read any good books that you would recommend to readers?

I wouldn’t call myself a crime junkie, but I’m probably more morbidly fascinated by murders than most. Reading wise, my own taste runs more toward horror than crime or true crime, but I would certainly recommend Tana French’s In The Woods, for crime readers who love good characterization and masterful storytelling. 

5. What does your writing process look like for writing a mystery?

It looks very similar to writing my other books, except I knew more! Often when I’m writing a novel I have only a vague feeling about what might happen or how it might end—with All These Bodies I knew how it would end, and I knew the truth (the novel gives two possible explanations and it is up to the reader to decide, much like it is up to my narrator, Michael); I had all of the details about every murder. The difficult thing was knowing what to reveal and when. What to hold back without making it obvious what the answer was. Which some readers may find frustrating, considering I don’t actually provide them with the answer outright.

6. When did you know you wanted to become a writer?

Oh very early on. Since I was about four years old. I loved to read. I loved stories. I thought they were absolute magic, and I still do. But I lived in denial about wanting to be a writer for a long time. I didn’t think it was possible. It was like becoming a rock star or joining the NBA. Wasn’t going to happen. Until one day I realized it was the only thing I was driven to do and I had to at least try. And many years after that day, I had some luck.

7. What kind of books are on your bookshelf? 

All kinds! Biographies to picture books. I love a good picture book. I love humour books and philosophy. I’m always trying to read more classics. And of course, I love fantasy and horror. I read a lot of speculative short story collections. And thanks to YA, I’ve gotten into contemporary rom coms!

8. Who are some of your favourite authors and would you use any of their books as comp titles for All These Bodies?

The favourite authors question is SO HARD. But since you mentioned comp titles, for my favourite authors with comp-ish titles for All These Bodies I would have to say Courtney Summers and her incredible novel, Sadie. I love that book. 

9. Tell me about some of your other projects?

Happily! Up next I have In Every Generation, the start of a new sequel trilogy set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, focusing on the daughter of our favourite witch, Willow Rosenberg. Frankie Rosenberg becomes the newest slayer and has to form her own Scooby gang to help her fight the forces of darkness as she tries to figure out just what happened to her beloved “Aunt” Buffy.

And then in 2023, I’ll have a new fantasy about a mystical order of ancient women warriors. It doesn’t have a title yet, but its code name is Amazon Jedis.

10. What advice would you have for new writers who are just starting out and looking to get published?

Don’t look to get published until your draft is done. Don’t pay attention to trends, or worry about any of the business side until you’ve written the book. Write the book you want to write, and write it for yourself. Love it. Revel in it. Get. To. The. End. It might be hard not to peek ahead at the rest of the journey, but I know many a talented writer who has peered into the publishing void and simply frozen up. Started second-guessing themselves. Changed their minds about their whole book. When you’re writing, focus on the writing.

Interested in hosting a BooknBrunch Book Club featuring All These Bodies by Kendare Blake? Click here to learn more!

Brittany Amalfi

Brittany Amalfi is a 20- something- year- old developmental specialist living in Massachusetts where she loves all things New England. Brittany is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing, and working on her young adult fantasy novel. When she isn’t writing, you can find her reading, working with awesome kiddos, and spending time with friends and family.

Favourite book: I can only choose one? Shadow and Bone by Leigh bardugo
                                 Favourite brunch spot: Primavera

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