All These Bodies is an atmospheric story at the intersection of true crime and horror following Michael Jensen in the summer of 1958 when a grisly killing spree lands in Black Deer Falls, Minnesota. As Michael begins working with the police to interview Marie Catherine Hale, the only person found alive at the most recent crime scene, Michael is drawn into an investigation that is much darker–and surprising–than he could have imagined. This book has been living rent-free in my head since I finished it so I’m very excited to have Kendare here today to talk about it.
Miss Print: Can you tell me a bit about your path as a writer? How did you get to this point?
Kendare Blake: Yikes, the path is so long at this point it hardly feels like I know. I wrote for a long time as a kid, and as a college student, working on craft, messing around with fanfiction which is also working on craft. Writing short stories and novels that weren’t ready for publication. I did a Master’s in Creative Writing that let me live in London for a year, and that was cool. Eventually my writing got better, and stories started selling, and then I wrote Anna Dressed in Blood. Now I’ve been publishing novels and short stories for more than a decade.
Miss Print: What was the inspiration for All These Bodies? Was any research involved to nail the historical period and atmospheric setting?
Kendare Blake: All These Bodies was inspired by three true things: the murders of the Clutters and Truman Capote’s true crime masterpiece, IN COLD BLOOD; the multi-state murder spree of teenaged killers Charlie Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate; and the Vampire Hysteria of New England.
As for research, I did some, like looking into what students in the 50s might have eaten for school lunch, but I still messed up: apparently blue lights weren’t added to police cruisers until the 60s and my dad says they did not have pop top beer cans.
Miss Print: All These Bodies was a 2021 Bram Stoker Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Novel–an award given for horror novels (congrats!). After your more recent fantasy adventures in the Three Dark Crowns series and Buffy: The Next Generation (your addition to the Buffyverse), what was it like returning to the horror genre?
Kendare Blake: Thank you for the congrats! I was so excited to be a finalist! It was great to return to the horror genre, and in many ways I felt like I’d never strayed far. Both Three Dark Crowns and Buffy: the Next Generation have some horror elements. What can I say, I like entrails.
Miss Print: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have been thinking about All These Bodies nonstop since I finished it. One of my favorite things about this book is the interplay between what your narrator Michael knows to be true about the case and what Marie tells Michael which leaves readers to draw their own conclusions. How did you balance this push and pull?
Kendare Blake: This is so wonderful to hear. Writing the back and forth between Marie and Michael, and balancing the known world of true crime with the speculative aspect of vampirism was one of the most challenging parts of the book. But it was also one of the most fun. Michael is a natural journalist, and the way he processes Marie’s story did half the work for me. I absolutely loved working with him. Over the course of the story his views are tested, and even by the end, when he’s made his choice about what to believe, he’s still being tested. The kid is so unassuming, but he became one of my favorite narrators ever.
Miss Print: We’re living in a strange time with the pandemic as we all continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, and work together to stop the spread of Covid-19. How would your characters be handling the pandemic?
Kendare Blake: It’s hard to take characters with 1950s viewpoints and plop them into our modern day problems without having experienced the transitional decades in between, but I think both Michael and Marie would be handling it pretty well. They have rich interior lives, so they’d have plenty to think about and keep themselves entertained while sitting at home ordering groceries for delivery.
Miss Print: What does a typical writing day look like for you? Has this changed in light of the pandemic?
Kendare Blake: Writing is quite solitary and I generally did it from home, so my day-to-day hasn’t changed much. I do occasionally sneak off on writing retreats or write with friends in cafes though, so there was a period of time where I didn’t see my writing clutch in person for over a year. And I missed them!
Miss Print: Can you tell me anything about what you’re currently working on?
Kendare Blake: Of course! Right now I’m working on a number of things: the final book in the Buffy: the Next Generation trilogy, and my new epic fantasy series, which is set in the same world as Three Dark Crowns. It doesn’t have an official title yet, but I’ve codenamed it AMAZON JEDIS, because it’s like if the Wonder Woman Amazons had a baby with the Jedi Order. Comes out in Fall 2023, and I should have more announcements about it soon! Hopefully like an actual title.
Miss Print: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?
Kendare Blake: Always. Though the worst vice is advice, and it won’t be applicable to everyone. READ. You learn a lot from reading, consciously and unconsciously, and you will continue to throughout your writing career. And: WRITE. Which sounds like the easy part, but isn’t. Find a way to get your butt in the chair and the words on the page. They don’t need to be perfect words the first time around. They just need to get out of your head and into reality.
Thank you to Kendare for taking the time to answer my questions. You can find out more about Kendare and her books on her website.
You can read my review of All These Bodies here on the blog.