Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Keeper of the Night by Kylie Lee Baker organised by TBR and Beyond Tours that you can find the schedule for here. I’ll be sharing my interview with Kylie today and my review later on in the month.
Death is her destiny.
Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough has been collecting souls in the London streets for centuries. Expected to obey the harsh hierarchy of the Reapers who despise her, Ren conceals her emotions and avoids her tormentors as best she can.
When her failure to control her Shinigami abilities drives Ren out of London, she flees to Japan to seek the acceptance she’s never gotten from her fellow Reapers. Accompanied by her younger brother, the only being on earth to care for her, Ren enters the Japanese underworld to serve the Goddess of Death… only to learn that here, too, she must prove herself worthy. Determined to earn respect, Ren accepts an impossible task—find and eliminate three dangerous Yokai demons—and learns how far she’ll go to claim her place at Death’s side.
Hi Kylie, thanks for taking the time to speak to me about your upcoming release, The Keeper of the Night. How has the journey been, from hopeful writer to published author?
Thank you for having me! As for my writing journey, like a lot of people, I started quite young. I’ve been very lucky in that my parents always encouraged me to write, sent me to a lot of writing workshops when I was a kid, and supported my Creative Writing major in college, so by the time I graduated, I knew writing was always going to be part of my life. My senior thesis in college was a contemporary fantasy novel, which got me my agent but ultimately didn’t sell. The Keeper of Night was my second novel, and I always felt strongly that I wanted it to be my debut because it was much more personal than anything I’d ever written.
What made you want to tell this story in particular?
I felt upset that the othering and objectification I experienced from Asian communities wasn’t widely acknowledged, and wanted to address those feelings through a book. Through Ren’s journey, I wanted readers to understand that for many mixed race people, there is no safe oasis anywhere in the world. I thought a book might help people understand how I felt better than I could articulate in a blog post or tweet thread. But I wanted to deliver that message through an adventure story, because speculative fiction is the only kind that interests me, personally.
How did you go about combining your own fictional world with the historical information you needed for an accurate setting?
The worlds of the Reapers and Shinigami were interesting because I got to pull historical information from a much broader time period than I did when writing the real world. Consider this: you have these creatures who are hundreds, even thousands of years old, and generally quite conservative. They interact briefly with humans every night but don’t live among them. Therefore, they’re not going to be up-to-date on human fashion trends, language, or technology. Some of them might be clinging to traditions from centuries ago (like the pillory Ren describes, an old English punishment device which was abolished—for humans—a couple decades before the story takes place, but the tradition is still going strong for Reapers!) while some might be trying to adapt to modern times (like the Collections agent who grudgingly has a lightbulb on his desk, despite most of the catacombs still being lit by candlelight). So, while I tried to research the human world as thoroughly as I could, I pulled the most interesting parts of history together for the worlds of Reapers and Shinigami.
Do you have a set routine when it comes to the way you write?
I’ve changed day jobs three times, moved countries, and started grad school since the time I started drafting The Keeper of Night, so my routine is always changing. I used to write at 5:00AM before work and honestly have no idea how I dragged myself out of bed to do that, but that was how most of the first draft of The Keeper of Night came to be. These days I tend to work afternoons and split my mornings between my homework and writing. But mornings for me start closer to 7am than 5am now, thankfully.
Who do you think this book will most resonate with?
Mixed race readers, and anyone who’s craving unapologetically fierce Asian heroines.
Finally, how would you describe The Keeper of the Night in three words?
I’m borrowing two of these from my Kirkus review, but: dark, gruesome, powerful.
About the Author
Kylie Lee Baker grew up in Boston and has since lived in Atlanta, Salamanca, and Seoul. Her work is informed by her heritage (Japanese, Chinese, & Irish) as well as her experiences living abroad as both a student and teacher. She has a BA in creative writing and Spanish from Emory University and is pursuing a master of library and information science degree at Simmons University. In her free time, she plays the cello, watches horror movies, and bakes too many cookies. The Keeper of Night is her debut novel.
Thanks for joining me today for this step into a wonderful, dark fantasy world, and of course thank you to Kylie for her time. I’ll be sharing my review soon, and I can’t wait to tell you my thoughts.
Thanks for stopping by! Come back soon✨