Q: Who is the real Kyla Stone?
A: Starting off with a hard one! I’m really a nerdy introvert who loves all things books, dark chocolate, delicious coffee drinks, and lounging around at home in my PJs. I have a husband and a couple of kids I like to hang out with as well. When I’m feeling adventurous, I like hiking in the mountains and tubing.
Q: What is your greatest literary passion?
A: My passion is to read and write books that are enjoyable and engaging, but that go a bit further and reach people at an emotional level. I don’t need to change the world or anything, but if my book can deepen someone’s understanding of themselves, those they love, or the world around them, then I’m a happy camper.
Q: Do you get time to read as well as write? If so, what do you like reading?
A: I try to read at least an hour a day, but when I’m deep into writing, sometimes I run out of time. I love contemporary YA like Kathleen Glasgow’s Girl in Pieces, Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall, and Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls. I’m also a sucker for a good dystopian like The Hunger Games or an excellent, mind-bending thriller like Gone Girl.
Q: Your writing appears to be very well regarded. Do you think that this is because of hard work, talent, or a bit of both?
A: I think most writers have some innate talent, but dedication and hard work will increase your skills exponentially. There are literary writers like Anthony Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See) whose every sentence sings. That will never be me. Most of us will never reach that level of skill. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a story to tell. We can still write in a way that resonates with people.
Q: In your books, you don’t shy away from some extremely deep and painful issues that are both taboo, yet extremely common (some might even say are in epidemic proportions). And yet, I feel that you do a great job of treading a line that many authors don’t appear to be able to walk. Some of them, I feel, either glide over the issues as if they are nothing, or they go deep in a voyeuristic, crass kind of way. You, on the other hand, go deep, again and again, leaving no stone unturned, and yet you do it with such grace and care that I am always left feeling as though I have learned something real, and that I can better care for those I know who are in a similar situation. You are very brave. Are these issues that you are passionate about? Can you tell us something about them, and why you write about them?
A: Thank you. *Blushes*. I too have read those books that handle sensitive subjects in a way that feels voyeuristic and/or exploitative. I usually throw those books across the room. That being said, it is a fine line to walk. I think compassion is where every writer needs to start.
My first book deals with sexual abuse. I am not a victim of sexual abuse, although I came close. However, my mother is a survivor. I have several friends who are survivors. So do most people, even if they don’t know it. I’ve witnessed both the scars and the strength of these women (and men). As a child, I watched my mother fight her way back to herself through therapy, books, and her love for me and my sister. She is the bravest person I know.
As a writer, if you approach a sensitive topic with compassion and respect, you’re on the right track. For me, a story is a success when it elicits empathy from the reader. If you read my book and come away with a better understanding and deeper compassion for the 1 in 3 girls who will be sexually assaulted by the time they reach 18—then I’ve done everything I set out to do.
Q: Your books are technically YA, but I am not so young anymore and I loved them. Do you purposefully write for a wider audience?
A: I love YA, but I personally resonate with the older age range—on the cusp of adulthood. I think older teens are at the stage where they’re grappling intensely with identity, who they are, who they want to be, how they’re going to handle themselves and what they believe in and fight for. I think on some level we all deal with the same issues even as adults, just on a smaller scale (usually), so we can still relate, even if we’re a bit older and wiser now.
Q: Where are you from and why do you write?
A: I grew up in Michigan but I live in the northern Atlanta suburbs now. I’ve been writing since I was five. Reading and writing are lifelong passions. I took a (long) break to have kids, but once the youngest started school, I dove back into words again. I write because books changed my life. When you read a book and think, I’m not alone in my fear or pain or X, whatever it is, that’s a powerful thing. Sometimes it’s also just great fun, both the reading and the writing. And that’s great, too.
Q: Have you always loved writing?
A: Answered above.
Q: How are you enjoying Indie Publishing and do you hope to be spotted by one of the big publishers?
A: I do enjoy Indie Publishing, although I’m still new to the game. I enjoy the control, but I’m also indecisive, which isn’t the best combination sometimes. The benefit of the big publishers is to get into bookstores, which would be tempting as a YA writer.
But right now, I’m happy where I’m at.
Q: Is there anything that you would like the world to know about you before they read your work?
A: Readers are busy people. I’m honored when someone takes the time to read my book. And I love it when they email me or write a review to let me know what they thought. I read every single review, and I always will. That feedback is quite addicting, actually. I love it!