They Stay (They Stay Series, #1) by Claire Fraise
Publication date: October 12th 2021
Genres: Supernatural, Thriller, Young Adult
For fans of Stranger Things comes a suspenseful YA mystery about a missing kid, a girl who can see ghosts, and a horrifying crime only four outcasts have the power to stop.
What if the only person who could help you find your missing brother was dead?
Nothing is as important to sixteen-year-old Shiloh Oleson as her little brother Max. So when the six-year-old goes missing without a trace, a heartbroken Shiloh refuses to believe nothing can be done and sets out to find him.
When one of Shiloh’s classmates says she knows where Max is, Shiloh hesitates to believe her. Francesca is creepy. She says she can see ghosts, but everyone knows ghosts aren’t real … right?
But Francesca says that Max is going to be murdered.
And a ghost told her where he is.
As the line between the dead and living begins to blur, Shiloh starts to think Francesca might not be as crazy as she believed. One thing is becoming clear. Someone has gruesome plans for Max, and Shiloh must confront her worst nightmares to find him before it’s too late.
THEY STAY is the first book in the They Stay Series. Read on if you like ghost stories, plot twists, enemies-to-friends, creepy circuses, budding romance, and unlikely heroes.
Content Warnings: This book contains death, kidnapping, domestic abuse, references to suicide, bullying, and mild adult language.
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10 Things You Didn’t Know About 'They Stay'.
1. I wrote the first draft of the book for NaNoWriMo in 2017
Well, not exactly the first draft of the book, but the first draft of what would eventually become the book. I wrote a book for NaNoWriMo my freshman year of college about a formerly-homeschooled girl who moved to a small fishing village and decided to help find a teenager who had just gone missing at her new public school. There, she teamed up with two outcasts, nerdy Miles and bad-boy Jonah, to solve the mystery. What ensued was the most out-there, ludicrous adventure that included 5 deaths, a ritual sacrifice, gang activity, secret societies, murderous grandfathers, motel fires, messy love triangles, and a random pregnant girl who didn’t interact at all with the plot who could see ghosts and solved the mystery before any of the main three hooligans did. The manuscript was 101,000 words. At the end of November, I decided to put it to rest and never look at it again because it was too embarrassing. But for the next two years, those four characters stayed with me. They had a story to tell, it just wasn’t the one I originally thought. So when I dialed down the drama, made the girl who could see ghosts a more important part of the plot, and made the boy who went missing Shiloh’s little brother instead of a random stranger, They Stay was born.
2. I started by wanting to make the book more of a horror book but found I was scaring myself
I was working on this book with my fiction writing professor in college and he suggested that I try writing it as more of a horror book. Something was missing from it, and he thought making the ghosts scarier might fix it. So I challenged myself to learn how to write horror. But by doing that I ended up giving myself so many nightmares that I didn’t keep going with that. Later, that same professor helped me realize that it’s okay for the ghosts not to be sources of horror and that an equally compelling story could be told where the expectation was inverted—the ghosts are not the sources of horror in the book, but instead, the people are.
3. I spent a year living in the county I based the fictional York County off
I spent my freshman year of college at Kenyon College in rural Ohio, which ended up being a major source of inspiration for Bethany and York County.
4. I spent a lot of time researching, talking to officers and community organizers, and joining task forces to help people struggling from the opioid epidemic in that part of Ohio.
I was an investigative journalist at Kenyon and wrote two longer research articles while I was there—one of which was on the opioid epidemic in Knox County (https://www.thecollegianmagazine.com/the-home-front/). While writing this article, I interviewed many law enforcement officers, community organizers, and non-profit leaders on the struggles not only those struggling with opioid addiction face in the county but also their children. In the article, my co-author and I wrote, “The Public Children Services Association of Ohio reports that 28 percent of children in Ohio taken into custody in 2015, as well as 70 percent of children under the age of one, had parents who were using opiates.” So I drew from this research when creating some of the characters in They Stay.
5. That same year, I mentored kids in foster care.
I volunteered for the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), and through that program, I mentored kids in foster care and juvenile detention. Not only was I able to meet some amazing kids, but I learned a lot about the way the foster care system in this country is structured, and exactly what kind of support is available to kids in the system. This experience inspired the character of Jonah in They Stay, and the struggles he faces as not only being a juvenile delinquent but also in foster care. The foster parents I met personally during this volunteering experience were wonderful people who cared deeply about their foster kids, and they inspired the character of Jonah’s loving and nurturing foster mom in They Stay.
6. Shiloh’s love and protective instinct over Max is based on my relationship with my little brother
I have a little brother, and he’s the best. I often find myself writing about sibling dynamics in my stories.
7. I drew inspiration from The Clockwork Angel when first establishing the relationship between Shiloh, Miles, and Jonah
The Infernal Devices series has been my favorite YA series of all time ever since I first read the books in middle school. I used to have a T-shirt that said “I love Jem Carstairs, get over it” on the front (at the end of the day, I was team Jem, although it was a really hard decision). I just loved how the relationship between the three of them
was not a standard “love triangle,” and how it was so complicated that it made the readers love each of the characters and made the decision hard. So I pulled some inspiration from those books when writing about Shiloh, Miles, and Jonah (although a lot of their dynamics are different, as well as the way these relationships are ultimately going to resolve themselves).
8. The book was almost written in the 3rd person past tense
Up until the second draft, They Stay was in 3rd person past tense. I decided I wanted to do a tense change because my writing just feels more present in first person present tense.
9. I don’t know if I believe in ghosts
I think about this question a lot, and I still don’t know if I believe in ghosts. I love writing about them. I think because I like writing about them so much, on some level I have to believe in them a little.
10. I can see ghosts just like Francesca
Just kidding on this one. It would be pretty cool to be able to, though. Don’t you think?
Claire Fraise earned her B.A. in English from Tufts University. She is also the author of YA dystopian novel Imperfect (winner of the San Francisco and Beverly Hills Book Festivals), which she published when she was 16. When Claire’s not writing, she likes crocheting amigurumi animals, reading, and hanging out with her dogs. Even though it goes against every introverted bone in her body, she is on social media. Connect with her on Instagram at @clairefraiseauthor, on YouTube at Write with Claire Fraise, or visit her website at clairefraise.com.
Author links: Website ~ Instagram ~ Facebook ~ Youtube ~ Pintrest ~ Goodreads
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