#MeetTheNewbs ~ Lee Kelly Author of City of Savages (Guest Post+Giveaway)

Meet The Newbies is a blog event co-hosted by Dana @DanaSquare and I, in which we introduce you to all of the new kids in school, the 2015 debut authors!

Meet Lee Kelly:

Lee Kelly has wanted to write since she was old enough to hold a pencil, but it wasn’t until she began studying for the California Bar Exam that she conveniently started putting pen to paper. An entertainment lawyer by trade, Lee has practiced law in Los Angeles and New York. She lives with her husband and son in Millburn, New Jersey, though after a decade in Manhattan, she can’t help but still call herself a New Yorker. 

City of Savages is her first novel. Visit her at NewWriteCity.com.

Meet Her Debut Novel:

It has been nearly two decades since the breakout of the Third World War, and Manhattan is now a prisoner-of-war camp ruled by island native Rolladin, who controls the city’s survivors with an iron fist. For Skyler Miller, Manhattan is a cage that keeps her from the world beyond the city’s borders. But for Sky’s younger sister, Phee, the Central Park POW camp is the only home she’d ever want.

When strangers arrive in the park, carrying a shocking message, Sky and Phee discover there’s more to Manhattan—and their family—than either of them had imagined. As disturbing secrets about the island begin to surface, Sky and Phee have no choice but to break the rules to uncover the full truth of their long-shrouded history. When their search for answers erupts into violence, the girls must flee into Manhattan’s depths, where their quest for a better future will force them to confront the island’s dark and shocking past.

Lee Kelly’s gripping debut novel is a pulse-pounding journey through a city that’s as strange as it is familiar, where nothing is black-and-white and buried secrets can haunt.

I fell in love with Lee's debut instantly. I highly recommend this book and the beautiful themes it portrays. It might be a dystopia/sci-fi, but it's messages hold true in any time period and setting.


Describe your book in five words or less.
Sisters, war-torn NYC, family secrets

What’s your favorite part of being a debut author?
Definitely the camaraderie of the YA community, both online and in real life -- it's been so much fun getting to interact with such a supportive and amazing group of writers and readers!

What was your favorite thing about the first day of a new school year?
The new school supplies, haha -- I LOVE me a new notebook, and remember getting so excited about going to Staples to load up on all of the new gear for school (I still get excited for new supplies like this when I start a new writing project actually). A very close second is those first few whirlwind days of hearing what everyone has been up to over the summer and settling into a new routine.

City of Savages contains such a strong sisterly bond, how did you develop their relationship? What is your favorite part of their relationship?

Thank you! It was really important to me that I capture the ups and downs of sisterhood -- how complicated and multifaceted the relationship is, and how quickly sisters can go from being best friends to rivals to each other's greatest hurdles (or champions). I borrowed from my own experience as a sister in writing Sky and Phee's relationship: even though I've obviously never experienced what they endure in the book :), I tried to focus on the feelings I have that are all tied up with my own memories of growing up with my sisters, and really pour that messy knot of feelings onto the page, if that makes sense.

And my favorite parts to write between the sisters? Probably the banter scenes, the lighter scenes where they're just having fun and engaging in their own conversational rhythm -- I find sisters have a way of "shortcutting" speech, almost like they have their own language since they've grown up together and have been through so much together, and it was really fun to try and capture this in the novel.

City of Savages takes place in NYC. What are your favorite things to do there?
I lived in New York for nearly a decade, and I miss it (we moved out to the NJ suburbs when my son was born). My husband and I used to go out to dinner and try new restaurants constantly -- the selection in NYC is insane. I'm also CRAZY about coffee, and New York has an indy coffee shop on pretty much every corner :). I used to write and spend a lot of time reading at Joe the Art of Coffee and News Bar in our old neighborhood.

What has your writing journey been like?
Oh man, I've wanted to write creatively since I've been about five -- and I have the paperback self-bound stories to prove it. But it wasn't until after college that I started realizing that in order to be a writer, I had to actually continually write (and not just think or talk about doing it :), and it wasn't until after law school that I finally managed to get into a groove of writing a little bit every day. Once I found my rhythm, a little became a lot, and CITY OF SAVAGES began to take shape in the mornings before I went to work at my law firm. I've tried to write, no matter how busy things are -- if even just a sentence -- every day since.

What other projects are you working on?

I'm currently in copy-edits on my next novel with Simon & Schuster called A CRIMINAL MAGIC, a magical realism novel that follows two bootlegging sorcerers through an alternative Prohibition-era America (one where magic has been prohibited). I'm also revising a middle grade project I've been tinkering with for a long time, called MYTHIC, where a girl struggling with her father's early on-set Alzheimer's realizes that some of his fantasies might be real. And I'm in that fun beginning stage of plotting a new YA novel -- but like all ideas, I need to feel out if it's a fling or if there's long-term potential :)!

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Other #MeetTheNewbs Posts & Giveaways:


  1. Sweet! Awesome contest(s). I love finding new authors, too!

    Michelle @ Michelle's Minions

  2. City of Savages has such an awesome premise, it's definitely a book I'm planning to get to this summer ^_^ (but for some reason, the synopsis I'm seeing is for the book Hello, I Love You, not the synopsis for City of Savages?)

    I love Lee Kelly's story of always wanting to be a writer but not quite putting that into action (that sounds a bit like me, hehe) and then finding her groove later! Great interview questions ;) and thanks for the giveaway, Rachel!~~

    - Connie @ The YA Book Thief

  3. The community would definitely be my favorite part of being a debut author also, if that ever happens. :) And any sort of familial relationships are important in books, and it would make the story much more honest if things were taken from experience. <3 Lee's upcoming novel sounds incredibly badass as well! I need it already. ;D

    Awesome interview, Rachel!

  4. Thank you for this opportunity to win this great book.

  5. This sounds like a great read and it's about sisters! Thanks for the chance to win this! <3

  6. Aw I LOVE this interview! I really enjoyed City of Savages, and it was nice to read more about Lee's journey! I loved the whole sisterly aspect- especially since I adored both of them- and cannot WAIT for her next book!

    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

  7. This is a great interview! Thank you for the giveaway, too!

  8. This looks like my kind of read! XD Finger's crossed!
    Mary G Loki


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