Chatting Between Classes With Author Kendare Blake

We were intrigued by the haunting story of author Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood, RT reviewer Senator's first-ever Top Pick! For her sophomore novel, Kendare created a horror story that will leave you sleeping with the lights on. So to find out a little bit more about this dark tale, RT's Senator sat down with Kendare for a mini-interview — a quick chat between classes, if you will — to bring you guys a special behind the scenes look at this new series starter!

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Some say it's the ambiance that makes something scary; others, the killer. What do you think is the most important factor that makes a story scary?

For me, fear is always enhanced by what you're not shown. By what you don't know. The leftover questions, the why's. Not so much the how's. I like to know the how's, sometimes. But things left off the page or off the screen, for you to imagine, or things that are implied and hinted at, that's scary. And you know, zombies!

I think one of the best “extras” of Anna Dressed in Blood is the dark red ink (like blood!) that was used to print the book, how did that wonderful idea come about?

That, along with so many things, was all my editor, Mel Frain. She had a vision of bloody ink and I think it turned out beautifully! Not hard to read at all. I didn't know they'd decided to go ahead with it until I got the finished copies in the mail, and it was a great surprise.

Everyone loves a good horror story, but what is your favorite horror film?

The Nightmare on Elm Street movies are a sentimental favorite. Freddy's not exactly frightening, but the idea of having an evil that kills you while you sleep is brilliant if what you're trying to do is keep people up at night. Also, I enjoy the original Scream movie. So clever. 

Obviously you love the macabre, who are three horror authors you would recommend for readers new to the genre?

I have a fondness for short horror stories. And of those, my favorite author at the moment would probably be Joe Hill. If you haven't read 20th Century Ghosts, then you should. All sorts of weird imagination and dread in there. And he can make the everyday creepy. I can no longer sing "The Ants go Marching One by One" without looking over my shoulder. The short stories of Poppy Z. Brite are great too. And finally a smattering of weird, dark, good stuff: Holly Black, Caitlin R. Kiernan and Angela Carter.

I know that you love to hike in your free time. If you could hike through any haunted place, where would you choose?

I totally have an answer for this, but it would give away one of my favorite things in [my next book] Girl of Nightmares. So, I'll say instead that I would hike somewhere downhill. Because I'd probably wind up running. Running and screaming nonsensically, until I reached the bottom to laugh about how frickin' sweet that just was.

On a totally different topic, there’s a story circulating about a note that was left with you when you were adopted and the “#1 advice” that was imparted for your care, is it true?

As the story goes, when I was adopted from South Korea as a baby my parents were left with few instructions. The #1 advice was "feed her chocolate." I don't know what the other advice was, but I think they ignored the rest. Rule number one worked just fine, and is true to this day. But what I want to know is, who stuffs a six-month-old baby full of chocolate? Not that I'm complaining, but I must've been a terrible, terrible child for them to resort to junk food so early.

The sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood, Girl of Nightmares, isn’t due to release until 2012. Do you have other books to keep your readers satisfied until then?

Well, they could always try my first novel, Sleepwalk Society. It's not horror though; it's a college story about how your life and high school friendships change. It's all about change, really, and the scary wonder of it, set against a backdrop of post-9/11 uncertainty. Otherwise though, I got nothin'. Maybe a few short stories in between now and then.

And because we're going to be anxiously waiting for Girl of Nightmares, what are two details that we can expect to see in that story?

Two details? Expect to see some cameos of previous kills. Expect to learn about the athame and its history. Thomas and Carmel and Morfran are still around, and Morfran is saltier than ever. Expect Cas and Anna's story to ... well. I guess just expect that it's Cas and Anna's story.

Want more from Kendare? You can check out two more questions from this "Chat Between Classes" at Senator's blog, visit Kendare's website and pick up your own copy of the series first, Anna Dressed in Blood, in stores now. For more genre coverage be sure to stop by our Everything Young Adult Page!