Kayla is the proud author of a number of fantasy and thrillers and is fascinated by the dark and macabre. Stephen King is her all-time inspiration mixed in with a little bit of Eminem. When she began writing, she started in horror, but somehow drifted into thriller. She loves the 1988 movie Heathers and was born and raised in Michigan but traveled across the country to where she currently resides in Texas.
Kayla, thank you for agreeing to this interview. You have written several series with strong messages strewn throughout. Do you believe that writers have a responsibility to both educate and entertain in some capacity, or are they free from such a weighty burden? If so, how do you balance the two in your fiction?
I think it’s important to have a message with your story, but on the other hand, sometimes, a story is just a story. For me, if I feel that the topic I’m writing about can be used to educate, I will certainly do that, but in a lot of cases that isn’t goal. I think the only time I ever set out to use a piece to educate people was when I wrote my romance novella, The OCD Games. This was a piece I used to help raise awareness about people with OCD and anxiety. Sometimes, my fiction doesn’t have direct messages but will have subtle takeaways. For example, my Rituals of the Night series gives the idea to be careful of people who seem too perfect because everyone has flaws.
Your Rituals of the Night series begins with Dead by Morning, a story with the tagline ‘Obsession is deadly’. Please tell us a bit about the story arc and what readers should expect from the series.
Now this series is probably the darkest that I have ever written. It covers the story of a high school boy obsessed with the outcast of his school. This obsession drives him to do unspeakable acts leading up to murder and kidnapping. The series is really to show the way that everyone battles with the good and evil voices inside them. While the antagonist is inherently evil, there are moments throughout the series where we see his human side. The opposite can be said of the protagonist. While she fights the good fight, she makes questionable decisions and as the series goes on, those decisions get darker and darker.
The Witch’s Ambitions Trilogy has two books completed with a third on the way. What inspired the telling of this story? What hidden messages do you hope readers pick up on?
There wasn’t really anything that inspired this series other than the fact that I wanted to try my hand at writing a fantasy novel. It was supposed to be a standalone book, but after I created the world and the characters, I fell in love with them and just wanted to play with them for a little bit longer. Even though I didn’t have a real purpose in mind when I started these books, I had ideas later on. The biggest message I hope that readers take away from this series is the idea that no matter what your situation, you can always be a hero just like the protagonist Lilith.
Romance is a theme in several of your stories, including The Blood Moon Trilogy. What is it about romantic elements that you feel enhance a story and captivate a reader’s interest? Do you find yourself including similar romantic elements or does each story offer a different romantic premise?
I think the biggest think about romance elements is that they’re real. All people experience crushes, heartache, lust, etc. and to make any story without them automatically makes them harder to relate to. I’m not big on romance, I admit, so the pieces of romance that I include are often limited. In The Witch’s Ambitions, the relationship between Lilith and her love interest is a very small part of the story. In The Rituals of the Night Series, romance is twisted into a dark obsession. I think having romantic elements that fit the overall vibe of the story is important because if you’re writing a dark piece, it would be thrown off by a fluffy fling, so on and so forth.
Your latest release, The Box, is a dark fantasy short story. How does dark fantasy differ from other fantasy genres? What did you include in The Box so it might feel right at home with other books of the same kind?
Dark fantasy stories are those that have a focus on more of the darker parts of life and the human psyche. Or at least that’s my interpretation of it. In The Box, I’ve added a lot of angst, but I think the thing that ties it the best to other books in the same genre is the call to adventure that we see in the story. While this is a short story, it is an incomplete piece because in the future, I hope to adapt it into a full-length novel.
What can we expect from you in 2019? Anything else you would like to add?
In 2019, I’m hoping to finally wrap up The Blood Moon Trilogy as well as add the fourth installment to the Rituals of the Night Series. There will also be several anthologies that I’ll be in, and to sum it up, it’ll be a big year. For everyone who’s read my books or is thinking about it, I just want to say thank you for making my dreams possible, and I really hope that no matter which one of my works you read that you take something away from it.
It has been a pleasure, Kayla! Please tell us where fans can find you online.