I'm back! And absolutely delighted to help celebrate a lovely friend's book birthday with this very special interview. Please meet...
As a child, Kendra wrote her first books on construction paper and bound them together with ribbon, though she can’t remember even one of those early stories. Once a teen and young adult, she jokingly referred to herself as Queen of the First Five Chapters, as that’s where every story seemed to fizzle out. It wasn’t until she was in her mid-thirties, when her family relocated to the West Coast, that she got lost in libraries again and finally managed to type “The End.”
Since finishing that first manuscript, Kendra hasn’t been able to stop new characters from talking to her.
Her fascination with all things abnormal comes out in her writing, whether it’s steampunk freak shows, vampires, or ghosts – if it has fangs or goes bump in the night, she’s writing about it.
Kendra now lives back in Chattanooga, Tennessee with her husband, Tim, who’s responsible for making her believe all her writing dreams will come true. Together they have two daughters, Savannah and Tabitha, who both enjoy art and writing as well. By day, Kendra teaches eighth grade English & Language Arts in an urban middle school where she shares her love of writing and dreaming “big dreams” with her students.
"I am my father's daughter, and I am terrified of that fact."
Seventeen-year-old Josilyn is the city’s rumored Cardboard Princess.
Living in a crumbling cardboard castle under the park bridge and struggling to care for her mentally ill father, Josilyn’s life has been anything but regal since her mother’s death.
But when a former friend discovers Josilyn's secret and leads Child Protective Services directly to her, her father’s visions of dragons and dark knights become the least of Josilyn’s problems.
Now separated from her father and terrified for his safety, Josilyn begins to see the world of his imagination for the first time, forcing her to consider the possibility that he’s not insane, and that someone may be desperate to see her father dead—and her in chains.
In a stunning twist of reality, survival may not be a matter of sanity, but who to trust, and who to kill.
DOWNLOAD THE FIRST FIVE CHAPTERS HERE
Father paces in the shadows as we approach, his face set in a stern scowl. “You might have told your father you were stepping out with a beau.”
I let out a disdainful snort while Brice feigns offense at my reaction. “It’s only Brice, Father. Not a beau in sight, I swear it.”
Father tips his plastic goblet in Brice’s direction. “Keeping my princess safe, I assume?”
Brice bows, doubling nearly in half at the waist.
“Spot any rogue dragons, whilst you were about?” he asks.
“No, Father,” I sigh. “No dragons, only a local homeless man in need of medication for his stomach. Do we have anything?”
Brice clears his throat, stepping into character for my dad. “Still, I didn’t chance allowing Josilyn to travel too close, King.”
Father nods, running his index finger around the rim of his goblet.
“Care to fence a bit before I depart? A show of our sword prowess might deter the fiends from attacking.” Brice rests his hands on his hips, tilting his head back as if he were posing for a photograph at a cheesy renaissance fair. Brice manages Father’s delusions as well as I do without missing a beat.
Father’s chest expands in approval before asking me to get his fencing swords, but as I pass the rough cut wooden swords to him, he shakes his head. “On second thought, Daughter, you are getting out of practice. Brice is not as good as I, but he is a capable sparring opponent.”
Brice’s smile swallows up the better half of his face as he takes the sword from my hand. If I ever question why I put up with the agony of being so close to him, I’m reminded of it at times like this.
Anxious to put on a good show, Brice’s grin widens as he advances, but I’m not new to this. Father insists on regular training sessions, even demanding I study other fencing forms in old library books. We circle, assessing each other before our swords meet a second time.
I avoid Brice’s jab easily, returning several strikes of my own. Loud clacks split the night air as our wooden blades clash again and again. He parries, anticipating my next attack, but isn’t quick enough to recover himself when I feign right and lunge again. It’s my favorite series of steps, but before long we’re both nearly ready to collapse.
Father, ever attempting to be regal, bows, his broad smile beaming in the moonlight. “Knighthood would serve you well, Sir Brice.”
“It does have a nice ring to it,” I add.
Brice repays our compliments with one of his best half-tilted grins, his eyes dancing with mischief. We say our goodbyes, with Brice assuring Father he’ll be on guard for any dark knights. Brice doesn’t break character for a second, not even to exchange a silent glance with me.
The stars are bright tonight, like a brilliant sea stretched out before me. I bring out an extra blanket to sit on and gaze at the constellations, my back resting against the strongest part of the castle. I pull up one corner, wrapping myself in it, and divide my attention between trying to identify my favorite constellations and listening to Father’s critique of our performance, which is mostly favorable.
My world is small, but it’s mine, and I love it despite all the reasons I shouldn’t.
As if in a show that the heavens themselves approve, a falling star streaks across the sky.
Before I can think, my heart makes a wish my mind wouldn't have agreed to if it had been given a chance to argue. Brice turns back, his eyes lock with mine, and I am at peace.
Unfortunately, peace never lasts long in a castle, especially if it’s made of cardboard.
"CARDBOARD CASTLES is by turns introspective, heart-wrenching, brilliant, and daring. I adored Jos, the desperate and supremely unreliable narrator whose cynical yet world-weary voice evokes Bogart at his best. K.L. Young's prose seized me like a dragon's talons, never letting go..." -Keith W. Willis, author of the Knights of Kilbourne series.
"Loved this book! Beautiful writing, great premise, and characters that I rooted for and cared about all the way through! I didn't know I was a fan of dragons until I met Falcon. Now he has my heart." -Carmen Erickson, Editor
"An absolutely brilliant and touching story. The characters made you feel everything in the storyline that was happening. I enjoyed this so much I would read it again and again." - Amanda Williams, Goodreads
“I loved this book. Such a heart gripping story of homelessness and mental illness, which many people experience in society today. I couldn't put this book down as it was written so well that it kept you glued to the pages right till the end. Highly recommend you read this book." -Anne Kinslow, Goodreads
THE BEST & WORST OF KENDRA
Best Book – Harry Potter
Best Band – Def Leppard
Best Song / Worst Song – Best: “Best Day of My Life”/ Worst: “Does That Make Me Crazy”
Best Holiday / Worst Holiday – Best: Halloween / Worst: New Years (I can barely make it to midnight) LOL
Best Animal – dogs and Beluga whales J Yes, there’s a story behind the belugas.
Best Item of Clothing – yoga pants for the win!
Best Food / Worst Food – Best: Pizza / Worst: Anything gritty (pears, seafood with sand, etc -- shudders)
Best Drink / Worst Drink – Best: Sweet tea! / Worst: Sodas. I rarely drink them.
Best Alcoholic Drink / Worst Alcoholic Drink – Best: Margarita! / Worst: Beer. Gross.
Best Friend – my husband, hands down.
Best Writing Moment – hmmm. I can’t pick just one. It’s the moment when a story or character really comes to life. I start giggling. That’s when I know it has to be written.
Best Childhood Memory – Best: Sitting on my grandmother’s sink and talking to her while she cooked or did the dishes.
Best Word / Worst Word – I can’t just pick one best word. I love them all. Except for seepage. Seepage is always bad.
Best Shop – Target!
Best Sport – None? I’ll say football or baseball for my husband though.
Best Job – Not sure?
Best Saying – “It’s always about the reader.” I say it to students all the time, especially when we’re talking about grammar.
Best Teacher / Worst Teacher – Me? And also me? LOL Seriously, Best: Janice Payne from my elementary years / Worst: My geometry teacher, Mrs. McClintock. When I think about what kind of teacher I don’t want to be, I think of what it felt like to be in her class.
Best Time of Day / Worst Time of Day – Best: Either early in the morning, when I can watch the sunrise with a cup of coffee / Worst: When everyone is running and busy.
Best Room – Does my back porch count? It’s screened in and it’s my favorite place to be.
Best Day Ever / Worst Day Ever – Both are too hard to choose
Best Smell / Worst Smell – Oh this one’s easy. Best: Honeysuckle or my husband’s cologne are the absolute best / Worst: Spoiled milk or Doritos.
Best TV Show / Worst TV Show – Best: Stranger Things / Worst: is hard to say. I don’t watch a lot of television anyway.
Best Gadget – Corkscrew? Haha!
Best Sound / Worst Sound – Best: Laughter / Worst: A high pitched/whiney voice. I can’t take it.
Best Restaurant – Alleia in downtown Chattanooga. My absolute favorite.
Best Movie / Worst Movie – Best: The Princess Bride / Worst: Napoleon Dynamite. We still make fun of that move in my house.
Best Time of Year / Worst Time of Year – Best: Fall. Love the Fall / Worst: I like Summer for about two weeks, then I’m ready for Fall again.
Best School Subject / Worst School Subject – Best: Science and English / Worst: Always math.
Best Body Part / Worst Body Part – Best: Eyes? / Worst: Legs. Definitely legs.
YES! Honeysuckle is my absolute favourite smell ever too! Reminds me of my childhood. Thanks for joining me, Kendra, and good luck with your fantastic book!
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