Where did you come up with the idea for your book, Honor Code? What was it like developing the characters and the story?
This book was pretty unusual for me. It was my editor Alix Reid who first approached me with the idea for this novel, after rape allegations began to emerge from private schools around the country in 2015. It was a serious issue that she wanted to address in a novel.
So I went out and began to read everything I could. I attended a private college myself, on a large, isolated campus in Oregon, with a community that also faced sexual assault allegations. I still remember the ripple effects when the anonymous accuser’s identity was revealed, and the beloved male student who had forced himself on her was pitied and protected by the community instead of rising to support her.
When I invented Edwards Academy, it was a unity of many personal experiences: a historical campus that reveres the power and influence of an old white man. Beautiful and scenic, but hiding cutthroat competition among students. And a student body that worshipped the leaders in extracurriculars and athletics.
Most of the story and characters trickled down from there. The setting was very informative of the social dynamics. I knew I wanted Sam to undergo a familiar journey: arriving shy and a little scared in a new place, but opening up as she found a true friend, and maybe some romance. And then, when she realizes she’s surrounded by lies and unchallenged injustice? Righteous fury. Which I think is something we can all identify with feeling right now.
Author: Kiersi Burkhart
Publication Date: March 1st, 2018
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Synopsis: Sam knows how lucky she is to be part of the elite Edwards Academy. As she dreams of getting into Harvard one day, she’s willing to do anything to fit in and excel at the private high school. Even if that means enduring hazing, signing up for a sport she hates, and attending the school dance with an upperclassman she barely knows.
But when she learns the high cost of entry, will Sam be willing to bury the worst night of her life in order to “keep the community sacred”? As the line between truth and justice blurs, Sam must find out for herself what honor really means.