Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Kya! We’re excited to introduce you to our readers. For those who aren’t aware, Kya is only 17 and already published! Mega congratulations, Kya. I believe you’re the youngest author we’ve interviewed to date. Tell us about your latest book, Sly Darkness.

Sly Darkness is a book I wrote for NaNoWriMo in just a month. I then revised it several times and now it’s published. It is not necessarily a sequel to Impending Doom, my previously published novel, but it takes place in the same town, Riverwolf Pass. Riverwolf Pass is a fictional town, and uses real towns surrounding the Boone area.

Sly Darkness is a story told from drifter, Zander’s, perspective. He comes to Riverwolf Pass with a very specific reason regarding an old family secret. While he’s there, he meets up with three other teenagers, Chad, Vikki, and Sarah. They begin talking about a boy who mysteriously went missing in the woods, and, subsequently, the reward for his body dead or alive.

Thinking it’s a good way to make a little extra cash – they decide to all go out in search of him. The woods hold mysteries, and the characters fall brilliantly in place with them as their many tangled pasts come to haunt them.

You learn about the characters’ secrets, fears, and some will shock you. I like to think of this book as a mix between “The Breakfast Club” and “Stand by Me” with my own creepy twists and turns.

This is a book that will be enjoyed by people who love mysteries, murder, suspense, and paranormal situations. Though it does have supernatural aspects, the majority of the storyline follows a realistic-fiction train.

Sounds like an intriguing read, Kya. I like that it’s not genre-specific and has a touch of the supernatural. When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?

Definitely the characters. The characters meld into my mind and it’s like they exist somewhere. When I write, I often find they take me places I never thought about the story heading before. It’s the most magical experience there is – in my opinion at least.

Oh, I agree. It is magical. Promotion is a big—and usually the most hated—part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?

I try to promote mostly through the internet. I have a website – KyaAliana.Weebly.Com – in which I keep a blog, publish short stories which are free to read, and I frequently have contests and giveaways for people to win free copies of my books. I have found that Goodreads.com is a fabulous place to advertise. I can reach out to so many potential fans as well as people who are fans already.

Yes, Goodreads is a great place to promote. I like that you offer contests and giveaways – very smart. How long have you been writing?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember, but the first time it actually clicked in my brain that it was something I should do more of, I was thirteen. I was bored one night because I didn’t have any new books to read, so I decided upon writing my own. I started it as a one night thing, but I really loved it – so I would keep writing each night. About 25,000 words in a couple weeks later, I realized that I had what could become a real book. I finished it a while later. I didn’t think I’d write another one – but a summer’s break was enough for me. I realized it was something I couldn’t live without doing. I honestly feel like it is my calling in life to write.

That novel still needs to be revised and edited – but I plan on doing so and one day publishing it. My novels I have published now, IMPENDING DOOM and, SLY DARKNESS, are novels that I wrote when I was 15 and 16 for NaNoWriMo (Nation Novel Writing Month – a program in which you write 50,000 words in just one month!)

I’ve never tried NaNo simply because I’m a bit intimidated at writing so intensely for 30 days. You’re very inspiring. I think it’s exciting you’re starting your journey at such a young age and I wish you much success. What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?

Hands down it is the ability to create your own world. I have a thought in my mind, a wonder of curiosity, and I can just write about it in an entirely different environment. I write fiction, and each time I write, I feel my imagination grow bigger and bigger. Writing fiction is a freedom – I can write whatever I want, about whoever I want, I make up whatever I want, I can be realistic or unrealistic and no one can tell me different because it’s my story – my world. And the best feeling in the world is when the world I created, the characters I dreamed up, start to take control of themselves and wind down a path that even I don’t know where it’s leading. It’s the most amazing adventure I will ever embark on – better than any D&D game!

You put that so well, Kya. I love that answer. What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice, “Write what you know”?

I have been told to write what I know countless times in my life. I remember when I first told my friend about writing a book about gangs he told me I was crazy, it wouldn’t ever be any good, all because I’d never been in a gang. He also told me I could never write from a guy’s perspective because I was a girl. I cannot express how strongly I disagree with this.

To some extent, I feel “Write what you know” is a good guideline to follow. But, ultimately, write what you want. Writing about something you don’t have all the specs on is a great way to expand your horizons and learn something new. Writing a novel isn’t just writing – it’s researching. Use books, the internet, history books, talk to people who know about what you’re writing on, and anything else as your passageway to a great book.

Well-said. How do you classify yourself as a writer? Fiction or non-fiction? Specific genre such as mystery, short story, paranormal or more general such as women’s fiction, Appalachian, etc.

I feel I have a very unique genre. I write books enjoyed by mature teens through people over fifty! The age range has thoroughly surprised me as I intended my books for teens. My books have elements of surprise, twists and turns, a dash of horror – psychological thriller aspects – suspense, mystery, and realistic emotion. Most of them also have a smidgen of romance. I love to write novels, but I also crank out a few short stories now and then, and have an ongoing online story which I publish parts to every few weeks.

I really like books that don’t fit into one particular genre. Yours sound interesting and I’ve placed them on my TBR list. Besides “writer,” what else are you; what is your “day job”?

My day job is living. I am seventeen years old and currently trying to finish up high school. I’m homeschooled, which I feel has given me the time to write as much as I want as well as the amazing support I receive from my family.

Eighteen is rapidly approaching. I’m planning on moving out and supporting myself. As much as I’d love to, I’m not making enough money off my writing to support myself just yet. So, I’m looking into getting a job at a local bookstore, coffee shop, or movie theater.

I have taken ten years of piano lessons, and though piano isn’t something I want to do with my life as a career, I do love music. So, I am planning on giving lessons to young children as well.

Here’s hoping your books sell well enough that you can support yourself, Kya. What is your VERB (this is a big poster at a local mall)? If you had to choose ONE verb that describes you and you behavior or attitude, what would it be?

Ambitious – my favorite quote is “Aim for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars.” I always set my goal bar high and strive to achieve it, and most of the time – I do. But, I’m not perfect, so when I don’t, I’m disappointed, of course, but I feel like I made a lot of progress and can usually achieve my goal in a short amount of time afterward.

Oh, I like that. Any family influences? Memoirs in the making?

There are tons of family and friends influences. My mom and dad are fantastic – they have always inspired me to go after my dreams, they truly believe in me and will be the first to snatch my latest short story, help me when I get stuck with my novels – they are the best parents I could ever wish for.

My Grandad, I believe, is my biggest fan. He always has been, even before I started writing. He has always supported me, given me his best advice, and really shaped who I am today. I can always call him for help when I need it – with life and/or writing.

I have just begun to stick my toes in the water with memoirs and non-fiction. I attended a writing class taught by a memoir writer. One of the exercises he had us do was write what we were scared to get on paper. I wrote about my very close friend, Isaac. He is going out and starting his life in the military right now, and it’s really been hard on me. It felt good to write about. When I – timidly – shared with the rest of the class, there was a very long pause afterward. And then, the teacher told me “Don’t change a thing!” I was amazed.

I published the story on my website, where you can read it for free. It’s titled: Isaac.

I’ll be sure to read that, Kya. Family can play an important part in influencing our lives and I’m glad you have such a supportive family. Were books an important part of your household when you were growing up?

Books were a very important part of my childhood. From the time I was two years old, I could tell you the author, illustrator, and publisher of any book on my shelf – which take my word for it was a lot. My mother read to me all the time, several books countless times in a row… especially Goodnight Moon and any Curious George book.

I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read – I just started reading. My mother said she never really had to teach me how, she just read, drug her hand underneath the words as she said them, and soon enough I picked it up.

I remember my children’s favorite night-time reading, Goodnight Moon. My daughter Meghann could probably still quote that one. Any good suggestions for overcoming writer’s block?

Writer’s block is totally natural – all writer’s have had it, no matter how fast they write, or how many books they have out. It’s completely normal, and if you get it, it does not mean that you’re a bad writer… in fact, it probably means the opposite.

In my opinion, writer’s block is frustration with your own work not being good enough. So, what I do when this happens to me is take a deep breath and try to get rid of the idea “what will readers think?” rid the thought “what do I think?” and just write. Even if you end up deleting what you wrote, at least you wrote, and normally that gets me back in the mindset to write fluently again.

Another thing I like to do, is if I am having trouble with a specific story, novel, or book, I will take my favorite character and write a spin-off story of him/her without any intent of publishing it. Tell what the reader doesn’t know – what only you and the character know. It can take place in the past, the present, or the future, whichever works for you. The important part is you’re writing about something you love – your favorite character – and the fear of what other people will think is taken away because you have no intentions of publishing.

Works like a charm.

Wow. That’s a great suggestion. I’ll try that next time I hit that wall.

Thanks, Kya, for joining us today. I enjoyed meeting you at the High Country Festival of the Book and have really enjoyed the interview. For more information about Kya and her books: KyaAliana.Weebly.Com