Listening In is a series of author interviews, featuring authors whose works have been transformed into audiobooks! Marie Hoy Kenny’s debut novel, The Girls from Hush Cabin is a “suspenseful YA thriller” that features a full cast of narrators: Taylor Meskimen, Lindsey Dorcus, Brittany Pressley, and Frankie Corzo.

Listening In #20

Marie Hoy Kenny

Marie Hoy-Kenny attended the University of Toronto, where she earned her honors bachelor of arts in English and professional writing and communication. Her work has been published in many literary magazines including Trampset, Cosmonauts Avenue, and FlashBack Fiction. The Girls from Hush Cabin is her debut novel.

Please tell us more about The Girls from Hush Cabin! Why should we listen to it?

The Girls from Hush Cabin is a novel about four girls who used to be inseparable friends at summer sleepaway camp but when an unexpected tragedy causes the camp to be shut down, they drift apart. Four years later, when they learn their beloved counsellor has died, they decide to reunite at her funeral. They suspect her so-called accidental death was murder, and decide to investigate, exposing their own dark secrets along the way. The narrators of the audiobook–Brittany Pressley, Frankie Corzo, Taylor Meskimen, and Lindsey Dorcus–are phenomenal. They make the novel come alive in a way I didn’t think was possible. Creepy scenes become much creepier with their incredible vocal talents and story-telling abilities.

Could you please tell us about your career as an author? What first drew you to writing?

I loved telling stories before I could hold a pencil and write them myself. I have always been someone who appreciated books so much that I dreamed of creating my own. Throughout my adolescence I realized the power writing had in being an outlet for my feelings. As I began to experience success with writing, my love for it grew, and I now know I’m the happiest version of myself when I’m involved in a writing project.

We’d love to hear about your writing process. Please elaborate!

I have experimented with different processes over the years and have now discovered that writing a synopsis before beginning a novel works the best for me. When I was working on this book I completed a chapter every second day. On the days in between I would edit the chapter I wrote the day prior.

What drew you to Young Adult Thrillers? When did you know it was the genre you wanted to write?

Almost everything I read and watch are thrillers. I am drawn to their quick-pace and love a great cliff-hanger that keeps me reading longer than I originally intended to. I spent many years teaching the seventh and eighth grade and I was drawn to writing thrillers because I was excited to write something I knew my own students would enjoy reading. I listened to their comments about their favourite shows and books very carefully and this information helped me to write the novel.

Where is your favourite place to write?

I need silence in order to write. I usually work in the back room in my house. It’s comfortable and really quiet and it might be the earth-toned decor, but I feel that there’s a certain energy in that room that makes me feel inspired.

Describe your writing style in five words or less.

Conversational, candid, experimental, mysterious, humorous.

Any advice for emerging writers?

There are days I don’t feel like writing or am feeling very uninspired. On those days, I try to write for about five minutes, by setting an alarm and doing a quick write. I type the entire five minutes and sometimes manage to get a few ideas out that way once I turn off my inner critic. To give me inspiration, I usually find reading flash fiction makes me feel excited about writing. Flash fiction is such an awesome art form. I love how so much is said in so few words. It’s so hard to master and when it’s done well by an author, I find it exciting. It motivates me to write as well.

What do you do when you experience writer’s block or reader’s block?

Don’t give up. I’ve had so many rejections over the years but I really thought about the stories, poems, and novels that received personalized rejections from editors and agents. I thought about what it was in those pieces that made that person spend the extra time on. Then, I continued working on those pieces or wrote things that were similar. I also studied books of all genres that were on bestseller lists. I tried to decide what features these books had that made them so popular with audiences and boiled it down to descriptions like, “voice-y,” “all chapters end on cliff-hangers,” or “flashbacks throughout,” and tried to incorporate some of those elements into my own writing.

What has been the most exciting part of having your novels transformed into audiobooks?

The first time I listened to the audiobook, I cried happy tears. I was amazed at how much it brought the novel to life. It was so easy to picture the novel cinematically because of these narrators extraordinary ability to tell a story and make it so vivid.

The Girls from Hush Cabin is a cast narration. Did you have any say in who was casted as a narrator? What made Taylor Meskimen, Lindsey Dorcus, Brittany Pressley, and Frankie Corzo right for the job? Was having a cast recording important to you?

It was important for me to have four different narrators since my novel was told in four points of view. I wanted each voice to sound distinct. My character, Calista, is Latina, and it was important for me to have a Latina narrator. I was so thrilled that Blackstone Publishing chose Frankie Corzo. She’s incredible. My character, Denise, is Lesbian. I asked if it would be possible to have a Queer narrator and when I heard that Lindsey Dorcus was selected, I was very excited. I’ve heard her read other audiobooks and I was already a fan. Taylor Meskimen sounds exactly the way I pictured Holly sounding and there is one flashback scene she reads that gives me the creeps in all the right ways! Brittany Pressley reads some of my all-time favourite audiobooks and I was starstruck when I heard she had agreed to read Zoe’s chapters.

Please recommend an audiobook you absolutely adored!

I absolutely loved Brittany Pressley’s and Kirsten Potter’s narration of The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James. Their beautiful voices and excellent skill made the story even more suspenseful than it already was.

What are you reading (or listening to) right now?

Right now I am listening to The Writing Retreat, written by Julia Bartz and narrated by Gail Shalan. It’s such a great book! I love destination thrillers. The premise of this one is so original and I’m totally hooked!

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