Here at Compelling Reads we’re very happy to introduce to you all the wonderful Young Adult author Kendra Leighton, her debut novel Glimpse was recently released and we encourage you to check it out, but first hear from the author herself…..
Tell us a little about yourself?
Hello! I’m Kendra and I’m a YA author and chocolatier. During the day I make organic chocolate, and the rest of the time I can usually be found writing or reading YA (or eating chocolate).
My debut novel, Glimpse, came out in June. It’s inspired by Alfred Noyes’ classic poem ‘The Highwayman’, and is a ghost story, a love story, and a story about overcoming trauma.
What is your favourite book (yours or another’s)?
Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin. It’s so cleverly written (of course — it’s Atwood). The romance part of the story floors me every time I read it — it’s so raw and real.
Who would say is your favourite author / authors?
In adult fiction, Margaret Atwood. In YA, Brenna Yovanoff. I adore everything Yovanoff’s written. I also love Patrick Ness — his Chaos Walking books rank among my favourites.
What book are you currently reading?
A Kiss in the Dark by Cat Clarke. It’s my first Cat Clarke novel, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
What is your favourite book quote?
You know, I don’t think I have one! I’m not really a quote collector. The ones that come to mind are “Reader, I married him” from Jane Eyre, because I read that book countless times as a teen; the other is “She has read too many books, and it has turned her brain” by Louisa May Alcott, because I’ve seen it printed on so many tote bags!
How did you start writing / what was your inspiration?
I started writing five years ago, when my then-teenaged sister forced some of her YA books on me. Though I’d always been a big reader, discovering YA had a huge impact on me and I immediately knew I wanted to write my own. Now, I can’t imagine writing anything else.
Do you write based on your own experiences?
Glimpse is about a girl who sees things that shouldn’t be there (really quite scary things), so I’m happy to say ‘no’ on that front! Paranormal aspects aside, however, Glimpse is also about a girl who is bullied, feels different to everyone else her age, and is struggling to find her place in the world, and that’s something teen-me could identify with — though perhaps not to the same extremes as Liz!
I think it would be very difficult to write without exploring your own experiences of the world and the people in it, even if you only do so subconsciously.
What books have inspired you the most?
Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking, because of its unique, multi-dimensional characters (Mayor Prentiss is fascinatingly complex). David Levithan’s Every Day, because it examines important issues and is deeply meaningful while still being very entertaining. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke, for its perfect settings and evocative language.
What do you find the most challenging thing about writing?
Allowing yourself to write a terrible first draft! I’ve read a lot of advice about just spewing out words and editing later, but I find it hard to write new words if I know the ones I’ve just written are awful. I always tend to edit whatever I wrote the previous day before writing something new. It takes me longer to get a draft written, but that draft then needs less editing, so it works out in the end.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Be passionate about what you do and be in it for the long haul. Work towards publication if that’s what you want, and let yourself enjoy the process. Most writers have at least one unpublished novel on their computer, if not multiple — there are never any guarantees.
How many books have you written / published?
Glimpse was my first novel. I’ve written another one and a half since it was accepted for publication.
What gave you the idea for your most recent book?
I’ve always loved Gothic fiction, so my first novel was always going to be dark and romantic. I wanted to write a ghost story, and Alfred Noyes’ ‘The Highwayman’ poem came to mind, since it’s already the perfect ghostly love story. Glimpse isn’t a retelling of the poem, but uses it as the basis for a new story.
What are your future book plans? And when can we expect it to be published?
That would be telling! Glimpse was a standalone, so my agent and I are currently deciding which of the two YA novels I’ve worked on since would be best to develop.
Could you perhaps share a little snippet from your next book?
Since there isn’t officially a next book yet, I’m going to cheat and share a quote from Glimpse instead!
Joy saturates me as he steps from the shadows at the base of the tree trunk. He smiles, his face lighting up the night.
There’s a posy of wild flowers in his hand. His golden hair and green eyes and the blues and reds of the flower petals have taken all the colour from the world for themselves. He takes a rose from the bunch, throws it up to my window for me to catch and press to my chest.
A thorn snags my skin, and I flinch. Something warm and wet runs down my finger. But when I look down, there’s no mere trickle of blood, my hands are slick with it.
If you had to pick one of your characters to be your favourite, which would it be and why?
I’d pick Scott from Glimpse. He’s not one of the main characters, but he has an important role to play in the plot. He’s got an interesting backstory, and some complex motivations that were a lot of fun to work out.
We are currently doing a literary character of the month for each month of 2014 – if you had to pick just one – who would you say was your favourite literary character and why?
Frankenstein’s monster. A lot of films portray him as grotesque and stupid, but Mary Shelley’s original was an intelligent, sensitive, tortured soul (if still grotesque to look at!). I love a complex character.