Today, I bring you an interview with author Kayla Joy. Kayla wrote her first full length novel at 14 years of age. Now, at 21, she has written countless short stories, screenplays, and books, including 'Morbid Tales From Behind the Mirror', and her latest new release tilted 'Hooverville'.
With 'Hooverville being officially released today, what better time to find out more about this author, and her work.
Tell me about yourself
My name is Kayla Joy. I'm the author of 'Morbid Tales from Behind the Mirror' and my newest book 'Hooverville', available everywhere today (July 1st). I was raised a military kid, moving and travelling constantly as a kid, which led to me turning to books and writing for a bit of comfort, reflecting on the crazy things I was seeing in the stories I wrote. In a lot of ways, I never grew out of it, and it's reflected in my works Morbid Tales and Hooverville.
I'm currently in college, and I work in a recreation center for military families. I love baking,
animals, painting, flowers, and all things Disney! My favorite movie is 'Beauty and the Beast',
How long have you been writing?
The first time I really remember being passionate about writing was at 8 years old, but I'm
told I was writing stories and plays at as young as 4 years old! The first story I vividly
remember writing that wasn't a school project, was a story called Adrian's Park. At the time, I compared it to 'Bridge to Terabithia' because the main character died at the end. I was 11.
You write across different genres. What genre have you enjoyed working on the most?
I have such a special place in my heart for creepy/weird stories; not quite horror but
somewhere in between horror and eerie. Halloween is my favorite time of year so it's fun
to always live in a Halloween kind of mood, whether it's more lighthearted stuff, or more
gothic fiction. Recently I've been working on a story much darker toned than anything I've
ever done before, and I'm having such a blast with it.
Tell me about your upcoming release titled ‘Hooverville’
'Hooverville' came about as I was getting ready to graduate high school, and I was reviewing
my notebooks from several years of classes and deciding what to keep. I stumbled on my history notes about these homeless camps all across the country. Seattle, where I live, is
known for its shantytowns. And while I was cleaning out my desk I just couldn't stop
thinking about the Hoovervilles and thinking to myself "There's a story here." I sat down
at my desk and ended up writing the first scene of a screenplay for 'Hooverville' that night.
It was scrapped for a while after some nasty criticism from a local writing group, but I
couldn't put it out of my mind. I picked it back up again to rewrite it as a book about a
year later, right before Covid hit.
Can you tell me about your writing process?
It varies for each book. My process for 'Hooverville' was different than it would usually be,
because I had the screenplay as an intense outline to follow while novelizing it. Usually I get
an idea for a story and slowly scenes start coming to me bit by bit and I write those scenes as they come to me, and eventually build a bridge that connects all the scenes together, and once that's done, I go back and polish it all up.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Most of the times I name them symbolically after other characters. Peter is named after Peter Pan. Thomas Kelley is named after Jack Kelley from 'Newsies'. Annaleise "Annie" Winston is named after Little Orphan Annie which was popular during the time period that 'Hooverville' takes place in. (Fun fact: The Broadway musical Annie features a song about a Hooverville!) And in other projects I have a character named Kit (from 'A League of Their Own') and one named Scarlett after the 'Scarlett Witch'.
How long on average, does it take you to write a book?
It's different each time. 'Hooverville' took 2 weeks for a full first draft (3 months for the first
screenplay draft), while Morbid Tales was 6 weeks for full publication, and the next one I
have been working on since last November, and I'm still on the first draft! Every story has its' own process and way of presenting itself to me, and it's my job as the author to discover it.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
I don't like when I have to write flowy, poetic passages full of metaphors as the characters
have a pensive moment of calm between the action. It feels clunky to me. I know a lot of
authors struggle with dialogue and action, but I was an actor so dialogue is easy to me, which I believe is a 'Writing Blessing'.
What advice would you give a new author?
Truthfully, I myself am still a new author, so I shouldn't be giving anybody any advice, but if I was going to, it would be this: people are going to doubt your work. You're going to get a
million rejections and a million doubters, and it's your choice whether you should listen to
them, or you should push forward, and prove them wrong. I used to turn up my nose at
self-published authors because I thought it was the easy way out, but I promise you it is the
hardest, and still somehow most rewarding thing I ever did for myself.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
If I ever get any free time, I love to spend it with my family. My siblings and I are super
competitive so we love Mario Kart or board games. I love going on day-trips and adventures
with my family, playing with my pets (2 dogs, 2 cats, 12 fish, and I would love to get a
chameleon someday!) and drawing pictures of other people's animals. Truthfully though?
Most of my free time is spent napping these days.
Thank you to Kayla for sharing her inspiration with us, and be sure to check out her new release by clicking the links below.