Author Interview: Kelsie Stoker

I recently read “Silenda” by Kelsie Stoker – it’s a young ( and not so young as it turns out!) adult fantasy novel by 22 year old debut Scottish author, Kelsie Stoker. This story is set in an alternative universe but explores human reactions over life after death. It is a young adult book and yet I found the book interesting, the storyline entertaining and thought provoking. and wow, what a powerful debut! I would certainly recommend the book to those not so young adult readers too! After reading the book, I couldn’t wait to chat to Kelsie about the inspiration behind her novel. But first, here’s a quick book summary…..


Silenda’ is told from the perspective of two alternating narrators. Horatio Young is an introverted bystander to his own life, afraid of his own agency, but afraid of feeling ‘static’. When he is thrust into a life-threatening situation, he must act. Carson Whitmoore doesn’t know a lot about herself. In fact, she knows hardly anything at all. Carson wakes up in an empty apartment with no memory of how she got there. She must retrieve her lost memories and expose the source that took them. 

Horatio and Carson are forced to navigate a world split in two – the Umbras who believe in eternal nothingness beyond the grave, and the Luxies who believe in an unending afterlife. 

When terror strikes the city and political tensions rise, Horatio’s powerful uncle recruits him as an insider to exploit Umbra secrets, but Horatio and his friends uncover something far more sinister – an underground organisation named Silenda who will go to dangerous lengths to uncover the ultimate truth; what really happens when we die?  


Hi Kelsie and welcome to the blog 👋

Hi ! My name is Kelsie Stoker and I am a 22-year-old fiction writer from Glasgow. I’m a passionate feminist and a lover of the arts! I adore fashion – I think the body is a canvas and that self-expression really extends our influence and gives life meaning. In ten years’ time, I’d like to see myself in some big-shot New York apartment clutching a glass of red wine, but for now I can be found listening to Hall and Oates and cuddling my mini poodle. ‘Silenda’ is my debut novel and I think a lot of my personality shines through in it – I’d say I’m like a hybrid of Astrid and Horatio!

“Silenda” is your debut novel – a young adult fantasy story set in an alternative universe.  It is a politically aware book exploring aspects of religious diversity, sexual orientation, labelling, life after death and how society rejects the “grey” areas of life. Who or what inspired you to write “Silenda”?

When I was fourteen, I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. I think having that sort of diagnosis at such a young age very much accelerated my existential thinking – it was the first time I became very aware of my own mortality. I was brought up in an atheist family, so I’d never really had a relationship with God, but after my diagnosis, I had a lot of questions for the guy – if he existed, why would he do this to me? So, for me, it’s a struggle to believe in any divinity, but I found myself envious of those who could. I’ve always felt my emotions very intensely so trying to find somewhere to direct my faith was an intense personal struggle. I’m a very empathetic person, so it’s always been very important to me to respect and try to understand people from different walks of life. Having a committed relationship with God is something I can’t really relate to, so understanding it really matters to me. 

I’m a lover of people – I think we are all just so complex and fascinating. We are all made from the same material but we are moulded and transformed in such different ways. We aren’t born with a purpose, the universe doesn’t seem to have prescribed us one, so we spend our whole lives trying to find one. For me, embracing the ‘grey area’, means not exhausting ourselves trying to belong to anything or conform to the confinements of something because we think we’re supposed to. Fluidity is so important, to learn to just be, and if whatever you are doesn’t have a name, that’s okay! Our language is a system that is supposed to cater to us, not the other way around.  

You are a young adult yourself – so are your characters based on observations of people you’ve come across in the past and incidents you’ve experienced ? Who were the hardest characters to portray?

I think I realise now, having written the novel, just how much my characters are an amalgamation of people I know. When I was writing it, I didn’t consciously mould a character to fit any particular person. I’m not really a planner in any aspect of my life, and the same applies to my writing. I let the characters make their own decisions based on what I learn about them as the story goes on. I think we write what we know whether we realise it or not – or we write interpretations of things we don’t know – which just end up being reliant on the things we do know! It’s all very subconscious but influence from people I know is definitely in there. When I was writing for Horatio, I was writing pretty much as myself, I think. His existential thinking, his struggle with his bisexuality and his fear of being static, is definitely straight from my own brain! With Carson’s perspective, I definitely felt that I was trying to channel someone other than myself. If I was in her position, I’d probably just cry. In regard to my other characters, the only other influence that is obvious to me, is Hayden’s dark and snappy sense of humour – that’s definitely my sister, Nikki!

Were there any aspects of writing your novel that surprised you, either by being harder or easier to write about than you expected ? 

I definitely wanted to write a story that I would love to read – so the story came easy to me, which was lovely. It’s packed full of things that I care about so it was a very cathartic process. However, because it’s a very politically aware novel, I definitely felt under pressure to do it well. There’s always the fear of being branded ‘too woke’, but I wrote things the way I see them, and the way I believe them – it’s my version of the truth, so it’s all I can really do! I wanted to make some sort of point about straight, white, cis men in power, but I tried to make that apparent without having any of my characters say anything outright about it. I wanted to make it clear that the diverse, colourful and fluid group of young people at the centre of the story, were not being represented by their leadership. 

I also tried very hard to simplify complex issues and use ‘umbrella’ terms for religious / spiritual and non-religious groups. I really did not want to imply that I was writing about any particular faith, because that is not the case, and would go against the whole point of the story!

Hypothetically speaking, if “Silenda” was made into a film, who would you love to see portraying the characters, especially Horatio and Carson? 

Seeing ‘Silenda’ on the big screen is a dream! I think Sadie Sink would be a great fit for Carson. I imagine Carson to be petite with red hair. I think Sadie Sink would be great at embodying Carson’s innocent look paired with her fiery ambition. Coincidentally, I met my boyfriend, Sean Munro, after the novel had already been written and he looks eerily like how I imagined Horatio…he’s also an actor so has helped me with promotional content. 

As for my other characters, it’s hard for me to cast them because they are so original in my head. Although I think a young blonde Evan Peters would have made a great Hayden!

Although “Silenda” is based in an alternative universe, is your fictional town/urban area inspired by any city/town/area in the “real” world?  If so, what was it about this place or places that ignited your imagination and got the creative juices flowing? 

Yes! The Rowleys is entirely influenced by the Gorbals, a historical part of Glasgow that has been infamous for its social problems; poverty, deprivation, and gang violence. Especially in the 1920s and 1930’s, the Gorbals were a very undesirable place to live, although many did due to overcrowding. The Gorbals became pretty synonymous with the working-class, and possibly even the marginalised. In 1954, the legend of ‘the Gorbals vampire’ was born, with the story spreading among school children that a 7-foot-tall vampire with iron teeth was on the loose! This legend inspired ‘the Rowleys vampire’, a story terrorising a derived part of the city.

West Town is a bit of an amalgamation, with the landscape inspire by the mountainous beauty of Glen Coe and Bellumside village inspire by the architecture of Edinburgh Old Town. I love my country so there is a lot of Scottish influence, but The Urb is a very futuristic city, channelling aspects of Tokyo. I think it’s crazy that in the post-modern world, such contrasting architecture can exist in such close proximity to each other.

Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book? 

I am a bookworm! Reading stories that excited me as a child definitely inspired me to write. I used to read a lot more than I do now because I’m always thinking about what I could write next, but when I can find the time, it’s so relaxing. I love fantasy novels and grew up reading a lot of YA fiction, but I love Gothic Horror, especially the classics, i.e. Shirley Jackson, Mary Shelly, Henry James…

The first YA book series I became really invested in was The Hunger Games, it’s still a favourite!

I 100% prefer a book, I think the smell of a good book is part of the reading experience!

 Is “Silenda” available to purchase worldwide?

Yes! It can be purchased on Amazon, via the Waterstones website,, and Blackwell’s online!

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I love a chunky boot! Pairing something very girly and soft with 70s boots is something I love to do. I also love a fur coat – faux of course! I think my style is very feminine – I love pink, leopard print and sparkles – it borders on mob-wife sometimes. I’m always trying to channel Barbie as well…I love how experimental she is.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I visited Vienna in December and stumbled across a store called ‘Glitzerwelten’. It was fabulous! Lots of faux fur, glitter and lots and lots of pink. I bought a gorgeous baby-pink fur wrap while I was there – I put it straight on! I’d love to go back.

As for online, I love shopping on Vinted – I think it’s very important to promote sustainable fashion. 

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I’d really love some sundresses this summer – something quite elegant and classy. Maybe florals? Something that makes me look picnic-ready at all times! Maybe I could pair it with a thatched sunhat – that would be super cute.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots, definitely! I just adore chunky boots. I’m also 5’11 so a little platform empathises my height and makes me feel very confident. I love being tall!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

Read my blog here:

Instagram: @kelsiestoker/insta

X: @KCStoker_Author / twitter

TikTok: @kelsiestoker/ tiktok

Fabulous chatting to you, Kelsie and congratulations on a fantastic debut book. Thanks also for the copy of Silenda for reviewing.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Kelsie Stoker

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