Blog Tour: Aftermath

The Interview

First thing first, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Maybe some little known tidbits?
I’ve lived in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois my whole life, but I’d love to live in Vermont or New Hampshire, or Prince Edward’s Island in Canada. One day.

Rumor has it that my great-great uncle worked for Al Capone. My great-great aunt denied it, but everyone else says it’s true.

I’m left-handed and when I write with pen and paper, instead of writing left to right, I write sideways and down to up. I always forget how weird that is until someone sees me write something and is completely gobsmacked. If we ever meet in person, ask me to show you.

I used to paint murals professionally. I also used to sing. But for the past few years, all of my creativity goes into writing novels.

In the forward for Aftermath you mention that this story has been in your head for a long time, can you tell us what inspired it exactly?
When I was twelve, a girl my age, from my neighborhood, disappeared on her way home from school. I knew about stranger danger and all that, but until then, I never really believed bad things could happen in my safe, suburban town to girls like me. It was the first time I truly felt unsafe and vulnerable. But I knew that the fear I was feeling was nothing compared to the terror the missing girl must be feeling.

Fortunately, she was found a few days later. She’d been kidnapped by a man who lived a few blocks away, and he kept her locked in a corner of his crawlspace. Following a lead, the police had searched the man’s house once, even going into the crawlspace, but the girl’s captor had terrorized her so much that she was too scared to call for help, and the police left without finding her. They came back later to search the crawlspace again, and she finally found the courage to cry out to them.

The girl and her family moved away soon after her rescue, and I never learned what became of her. But I never forgot about her. I made up a story about her recovery, and that story became Aftermath. I’ve thought of her often over the years. I want to know how she survived, how she recovered, what kind of impact the experience had on her and her family. I became fascinated with the subject of recovery from traumatic events – so much so that in college, I majored in psychology, sociology, and social services, with a minor in criminal justice. Triumph over tragedy is a frequent theme in the books I write.Although that girl’s experience inspired Aftermath, the book isn’t her story. Aftermath is Charlotte’s story. Charlotte is kidnapped just before her twelfth birthday and escapes when she’s sixteen. The book starts with her escape and follows her journey to recovery, as well as her family’s.

Throughout Aftermath there are a few really dark moments, did you ever just need to step away and take a breather or was your commitment to the story enough to keep you pushing through?
I’m an emotional person anyway, so I write with a lot of emotion. I got emotional all the time while writing Aftermath. After I wrote the first draft for NaNoWriMo 2011, I put the manuscript away for a few years because I felt such a connection to it that I wasn’t ready to share it with anyone yet. When I took it out again to revise it, I could barely re-read it because it made me so emotional. Every time I re-read a draft, I get teary at the same scenes.

Writing the darker moments, from Charlotte’s point of view, was tough. I was very careful to write those scenes in a manner that was tactful and not gratuitous. The hardest part was striking a balance between being painting a truthful picture about what happened in the attic while not being too graphic. My readers are smart. They will understand what happened without needing explicit details.

But ultimately, Aftermath is Charlotte’s journey from seeing herself as a victim to seeing herself as a survivor. It’s a journey that’s made even harder because many of her loved ones only see her as a victim. Others, who already see her as a survivor, are insensitive to her need to recover slowly. I hope I did her story justice.

Is there anything you would’ve done differently?
I wish I hadn’t put the manuscript away for a few years after I wrote the first draft. If I had it to do over again, I would have sent it to my agent right away. BUT! I’m not going to dwell on things I cannot change, and I can’t change the past. No regrets!

Are you working on anything else currently? If so, can you share anything?
I’m currently working on two manuscripts that I hope to send to my agent soon. One is a dual-timeline, dual-POV, super-romantic YA mystery thriller. The other is a dark, ripped-from-the-headlines YA contemporary about grief, guilt, and forgiveness. Also, I recently got my rights back to my first two books, the Run To You series. They’re currently unavailable for sale. I love those books soooo much, and they’ve won awards, including the prestigious RITA Award for Best First Book, and they made several Best Of lists. So, my top priority is to get the Run To You series back on the market! Follow me on social media and subscribe to my newsletter to keep up on news about Run To You, Aftermath, and my next books.

Would you ever consider expanding on Charlotte’s life during her years in captivity? Or writing another story surrounding this topic?
I don’t know if I’ll ever go into more detail about Charlotte’s years in the attic. Maybe one day. But Charlotte’s story is her recovery from what happened to her in the attic—the aftermath. I’ve had some requests to rewrite Aftermath from her sister Alexa’s point of view. That would be an interesting project. But for now, I’m working on my current manuscripts, which also deal with the themes of dysfunctional family dynamics and triumph over tragedy.

What exactly draws you towards those darker topics?
I’m drawn to the darker side of storytelling because it’s how I face my fears: safely, through fiction.

About the Book:
Charlotte survived four long years as a prisoner in the attic of her kidnapper, sustained only by dreams of her loving family. The chance to escape suddenly arrives, and Charlotte fights her way to freedom. But an answered prayer turns into heartbreak. Losing her has torn her family apart. Her parents have divorced: Dad's a glutton for fame, Mom drinks too much, and Charlotte's twin is a zoned-out druggie. Her father wants Charlotte write a book and go on a lecture tour, and her mom wants to keep her safe, a virtual prisoner in her own home. But Charlotte is obsessed with the other girl who was kidnapped, who never got a second chance at life--the girl who nobody but Charlotte believes really existed. Until she can get justice for that girl, even if she has to do it on her own, whatever the danger, Charlotte will never be free.

About the Author:
Clara Kensie grew up near Chicago, reading every book she could find and using her diary to write stories about a girl with psychic powers who solved mysteries. She purposely did not hide her diary, hoping someone would read it and assume she was writing about herself. Since then, she’s swapped her diary for a computer and admits her characters are fictional, but otherwise she hasn’t changed one bit.

Today Clara is a RITA© Award-winning author of dark fiction for young adults. Her super-romantic psychic thriller series, Run To You, was named an RT Magazine Editors Pick for Best Books of 2014, and Run to You Book One: Deception So Deadly, is the winner of the prestigious 2015 RITA© Award for Best First Book.

Clara’s latest release is Aftermath, a dark, ripped-from-the-headlines YA contemporary in the tradition of Room and The Lovely BonesAftermath is on Goodreads’ list of Most Popular Books Published in November 2016, and Young Adult Books Central declared it a Top Ten Book of 2016.

Clara’s favorite foods are guacamole and cookie dough. But not together. That would be gross.

Tour Schedule:

The Giveaway:
1: A "Do It Double" Aftermath tote bag from Blu Bear Bazaar (photos attached). Inspired by Aftermath's message to "Do it double, because some can't do it at all," Blu Bear Bazaar designed beautiful artwork for it and printed it on tote bags and throw pillows. Blu Bear Bazaar is generously donating a portion of all Aftermath product proceeds to RAINN and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Click here for more information.

2: Choice of TWO books from Clara's collection of YA novels. Clara will give the winner a list of the YA novels in her collection, and the winner can pick two. Some of the books are signed by the author.

*US/CAN for the above prizes. If the winner is international, the prize will be substituted by a book from Book Depository up to $18.00, winner's choice.

Good luck, and happy reading!!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I just want to thank Hannah for having me on the tour and Clara for the awesome answers. I absolutely loved Aftermath and if you want you can check out my review here. Have you read Aftermath? I'd love to hear your thoughts!


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