One of my favourite things about blogging is the ability to connect with fellow writers and give each other a helping hand. Along that vein, Laekan Zea Kemp offered me the chance to swap features on our blogs (If you head over to her blog, you’ll find an interview with me and a feature on my book). It seemed like a fun opportunity and a great way to let people know about each other’s latest release and a little about them personally. So, without further ado, here’s a little Q&A with Laekan about her work as a writer and her new book, The Girl In Between.
- When did you first know you wanted to pursue writing?
My entire high school career I thought I was going to major in social work or journalism and save the world but midway through my senior year I had a mild crisis of spirit and realized that I really wanted to be an artist. I’d always loved to read and spent more time with books than people and even though I’d always glamorized the idea of being a writer I’d never actually attempted it. I’d written short stories and really terrible poetry but making the decision to major in Creative Writing was the real turning point for me.
- Where did you get the idea for this particular book?
I started working on this novel in April of last year and, to be honest, I can’t really remember where the original idea came from. Probably because I can’t really remember what the original idea even was. I know that it started out as a contemporary standalone and I’d been really interested in exploring dual narrative again but I suppose the story started out the way all of my stories have–with the central relationship. It isn’t always a love story that’s central to my novels but I do like to focus on human relationships, whether that’s familial or within the context of first love. The characters always come to me first and the various means of torturing them always comes later.
- What part of the writing process did you find the most difficult?
All of it. I’ve written six novels so far and each one has tested me in different ways. Depending on my mood, on the random stress of life, on my strengths and weakness that day that seem to vary as often as my mood, I can be stumped at any point. I re-wrote The Girl In Between from scratch probably six times because I just couldn’t find the story’s true identity but when it came to writing the third novel in the series, the first draft just fell out of me. I wish there was one area that constantly gave me difficulty because then I could focus all of my energy on improving it but stories are wild things and it takes something different to tame each one.
- What would you say to anyone who is considering taking up writing?
Well, it depends on what you mean by taking up. I think humans are naturally creative beings and would encourage everyone to take up writing or painting or singing or any other creative endeavour. Creating something from nothing is not only spiritually and emotionally rewarding but it’s a necessity of living a fulfilled life. When it comes to writing as a career, however, I would say that it’s not for the faint of heart. If I were to give any advice to an aspiring artist it would be, number one, to be sure, and number two, to dive into your passion with a clear vision. It doesn’t have to be glamorous or grandiose, it just has to be clear. In fact the more specific it is the better. So many of us struggle with validating our choice to pursue the arts and because of that sometimes we have a tendency to shy away from the risk and rejection that comes along with it. We toe the line between our dreams and the more practical expectations of the people around us and wonder why we’re unsatisfied. Don’t be afraid to make declarations and definitely don’t be afraid to make them loud enough for other people to hear. Be honest about what you want, regardless of how silly it may seem to others, and do something every day that brings you closer to that goal.
The Girl In Between Synopsis:
Bryn Reyes is a real life sleeping beauty. Afflicted with Klein-Levin Syndrome, she suffers episodes of prolonged sleep that steal weeks, and sometimes even months, from her life. But unlike most KLS patients, she doesn’t spend each episode in a catatonic state or wake up with no recollection of the time she’s missed. Instead, Bryn spends half her life in an alternate reality made up of her memories. For Bryn, the past is a place, until one day a boy she’s never met before washes up on the illusory beach of her dreams with no memory of who he is.
But the appearance of this strange boy isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Bryn’s symptoms are worsening, her body weakening as she’s plagued by hallucinations even while awake. Her only hope of finding a cure is to undergo experimental treatment created by a German specialist. But when Dr. Banz reveals that he knows more about her strange symptoms than he originally let on, Bryn learns that the boy in her head might actually be the key to understanding what’s happening to her, and worse, that if she doesn’t find out his identity before it’s too late, they both may not survive.
Laekan is a writer and explorer extraordinaire who grew up in the flatlands of West Texas. She graduated from Texas Tech with a BA in Creative Writing and is the author of the multi-cultural New Adult novels, The Things They Didn’t Bury, Orphans of Paradise, Breathing Ghosts, and the Young Adult novel The Girl In Between, which is the first in an upcoming paranormal romance series.