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Elizabeth Kilcoyne Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Wake the Bones (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Elizabeth Kilcoyne
Elizabeth Kilcoyne is a playwright, author, and poet from Lexington, Kentucky, who started this story after stacking rocks in her family cemetery one day when she realized that she was actually standing in her own grave. She has been published in several literary journals including “Still: The Journal”.

She lives in Lexington, where she teaches writing, gardens, and serves on the organizational team for a local community vegetable market.

Elizabeth got the inspiration for “Wake the Bones” was walking into the woods, where weird things happen and things are often rotting and dead. So she knew that she wanted to pull that kind of oddness which comes along with very mundane activities and chores in the woods, and connecting such a feeling of being watched you always get. Because you always are getting watched in the woods. There’s always some squirrel or something which really wants to know your business.

Then tying that with local folk horror, as Elizabeth believes many people, especially in the rural South, get parented by ghost stories, to a certain extent. For her family, it was always very practical, being told: do not play on top of the old livestock well, not just because it’s a dangerous thing to do, but there’s this ghost in there which will grab you by the ankles and pull you down. So this first book this close to home was always going to hit this kind of subject.

Her magic system for the novel was inspired by multiple things. She’s always been interested in the folk magic of the area: what’s of God and what is considered acceptable, and how narrowly you’re supposed to stay in your lane with the magical gifts that people think you have received versus the concept of witchcraft and how totally taboo and unacceptable it is.

That’s where she started, and that is a lot of the relationship and dynamic between Christine and Laurel: having this narrow, God-given gift which allows you to witch the warts right off of somebody, or draw fire out of a burn, or some of the old stuff they do. You just can’t tell some folks about it, you can’t tell anyone how you did it, the gift must be passed from daughter to son, there is a lot of strict rigidity within the folk magic beliefs which exist within the region, it is a region that’s brimming with magic.

At the same time, however, she couldn’t look at what was there already and just go with it. This girl is grieving, and has some major problems. She can’t just pull out a Bible verse and consider herself finished. She must get into the meat of her world. Then she got to thinking about the relationships to the land and what it’s doing, because the land isn’t, of course, a neutral party in the book. It became important to Elizabeth to use the land as a character that wants things and reacts if it gets pushed.

While writing the novel, Elizabeth called it “The Big Grief Book”. She had a bunch of people in her life die at once, within just a few months of one another. Death was heartbreaking and inevitable. It put an end to things and made things worse. It was surprising and peaceful. She was slammed by a semi truck of grief. She’s always been told that you should write your book knowing the answer to the question that you are asking, and she didn’t do that with this novel, because her question was actually how does she live with this?

So much of the balance of grief and hope and seeing it all together at once is actually just Elizabeth, on the page, struggling with everything that was happening. She’s glad it reads as hopeful, because she didn’t feel hopeful at certain points to write it.

For Elizabeth, the best part of being a writer is while she’s in revision when the pieces of her book come together in this new way that you hadn’t anticipated. There is this satisfying click to it, and it’s a feeling that she lives for.

She tries making sure she lives a nourished life as an author. If she is truly blocked, it is typically because she has either quit reading or stopped going out into the world and taking the time to observe what’s going on all around her. It also helps her to differentiate between a problem in her plot and actual writer’s block.

If it is indeed a plot issue, she either sets the manuscript aside for a while to allow her subconscious ruminate on this issue, or she looks at the manuscript for the darling she must kill that is keeping her plot from flowing better.

“Wake the Bones” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2022. The sleepy small farm which Laurel Early was raised on has awakened. The woods are shifting, her bone pile stood up and walked off, and the soil’s dead underneath her hands.

After she dropped out of college, all that she wanted to do was resume her life as a tobacco hand and taxidermist and just try to not think about the boy she cannot help but love. Instead, this devil from her past has come back to court her, as he did her late mom years before. Laurel must now unravel her mom’s horrifying legacy and tap into her own innate magic before her future and the fate of everybody she loves is doomed.

Young adult horror has found a new standard bearer in Elizabeth Kilcoyne. This is a dark, gorgeous, and gripping novel, this will keep you up into the late hours, after leading you into the woods. As sweltering and lush as a Kentucky summer, while seething with shadows and uniquely southern magic, it’s a powerful debut which captures the ache of home being a place you both loathe and love simultaneously.

The novel is deliciously vile and viciously emotional, it’s a debut that you will want to savor yet will be forced to devour it whole. She richly imagines this world where death and life are each tangled together, and loss and love are the real magic.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Elizabeth Kilcoyne

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