Name : Kayla Krantz
Where are you from
I’m a psychological horror/thriller writer originally from Detroit, Michigan. A few years back, I moved across the country to Texas where I currently live with my husband and son. I love to read and write. When I get free time, I like to go for walks in the woods. I’m a stay-at-home Mom so watching my son is my living. My favorite author is Stephen King—he’s actually the reason I began writing. I have a soft spot for Edgar Allen Poe and Shakespeare as well.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My debut novel, Dead by Morning, was published as of May of this year. Book number two in the series, Alive at Sunset, is in editing and is expected to release sometime early next year. In the meantime, I’m currently working on Book Five, Comatose at Dusk.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I never chose to be a writer; I think it chose me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always written something down. I wrote my first short story when I was four years old, and I’d write pieces all throughout elementary school that my principal always wanted to read. As I got older, my stories just got more elaborate. I think it was around middle school that I realized just how much joy it brought me. Stephen King has always been a huge influence on the way I think and the way I write.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think when I realized that I didn’t choose to write but rather that I needed to write, just as I need to breathe and eat, then I realized I was a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
A number of factors inspired me to write Dead by Morning. As ironic as this sounds, the idea came to me in a dream. The villain of my book, Chance, is actually based on a character I see in a reoccurring dream of mine. Besides that, the rest of the idea came from a mixture of my favorite movie, Heathers, and lots of music.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing process?
My writing process is actually quite complicated. When I begin a new project, I first write it all down in a spiral college-ruled notebook with a fountain pen. Pen on paper helps me gather my thoughts better than writing on a computer. After I finish my first draft in the notebook, I transfer all the writing to loose-leaf paper that I keep in a binder. After this draft is when I finally type it on the computer and look for things such as plot holes or areas where characters need development.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I went through a string of titles, unable to decide on one that fit the tone. I was watching a “Family Guy” episode and one of them said. “We’ll all be Dead by Morning.” And I just thought, “Dead by Morning” that’s perfect!
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
You can never be too careful. People that seem perfect may be hiding the most secrets of all. Most importantly, never think that something “can’t happen to you” because it can, and if you’re not careful, it will.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Basically, Dead by Morning was a twisted version of my own high school experience. I didn’t have a lot of friends, I stuck to myself a lot much like Luna. I never really took stock of what the other kids did. I had a handful of friends, but beyond that, I got picked on a lot so I would dive into books at school to avoid confrontations.
Creating the characters in Dead by Morning was a fun process from beginning to end. A handful of them, Max, Violet, and Amy, were based on real people, but Luna and Chance were created completely out of thin air. The interesting thing about my protagonist and antagonist is that they were made to be two halves of one mind.
Luna, my protagonist, loves to study and do her thing. She isn’t worried what others think of her, and she likes to follow the guides and rules set up by those around her to be a model citizen because she wants to be respected by her peers. Chance, the antagonist, is the complete opposite. He’s a rebel, destructive, and carefree. He’s manipulative, and gets what he wants only because he has nerve enough to break all the rules Luna spends her life carefully sticking to. He does what he can to not be alone, because deep down, he fears what his life will be.
While Luna is innocent, Chance is evil.
Together, Luna and Chance not only form two halves of a whole, they show the confliction of the need for good and bad that occurs inside everyone—protagonist and antagonist alike. They were created in this manner to show that not all people have black and white thinking. Good people have evil thoughts and those who are deemed evil may have good thoughts. Dead by Morning shows that who a person truly is depends solely on the voice that they choose to follow.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
From little on, I’ve always been very inspired by Stephen King. I absolutely adore how out of the box some of his work is and the deeper meaning some stories such as The Dark Half have.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My publishing company has been very supportive of me. The other authors are like a second family.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I think writing has the potential to be a good career, it’s just a matter of getting my work out there.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I don’t remember how exactly I came to be interested in writing, I just know I’ve always had the urge to make up stories for as long as I can remember.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here’s an excerpt from chapter 13 of Dead by Morning.
Chance stayed where he was and looked around the people near him. At the sight of him alone, a couple girls ran up to him and Luna guessed they were asking him for a dance. She smiled a bit to herself…maybe if he got distracted with the other girls he would forget she was there. As she watched, he shooed the girls away with a simple movement of his arm, and Luna’s hope turned to disappointment. He walked over to her, searching her eyes with his.
“What’s wrong? Don’t like the paparazzi?” He laughed.
“You should dance with those other girls.”
“Why?” he asked, scrunching up his face.
“Because I want to go home.”
He shook his head. “No way, you’re not going home without at least giving me one dance.”
Luna slumped her shoulders. “Do we really have to?”
“Do I have to tell David that you didn’t follow his orders?” he asked, tipping his head to the side.
Luna closed her eyes for a long moment to hold back the building anger. She knew he’d keep his promise. “Fine, you win.”
He smiled and held out his hand to her. “Of course I did.”
Reluctantly, she set her hand in his. His skin felt clammy beneath her fingers, like he had been sweating. Luna wanted to pull her hand back, but she forced herself to keep it there. He closed his fingers around hers and pulled her onto the dance floor. The music turned to a slow, sappy song, forcing them to slow dance. He forced her arms up onto his shoulders and set his hands on her waist.
As he stepped to the music, she searched his expression for any sign of compassion. “Why do you do this to me?”
“Make me go to things like this. I mean, I know you don’t like me. What could you possibly want from me?”
He looked back at her, and for a minute, he didn’t speak, as if he had been caught off-guard by her question. “I can’t tell you.”
“You can blackmail me into going on dates with you, and you can have your friends kidnap me, but you can’t tell me why you do it?” she asked in disbelief.
“Look, you’ll find out eventually, and you won’t like it, I know. I try hard to get you to feel something toward me so that when you find that out, you won’t fight me,” he whispered in her ear.
“Find what out? What could be so bad? Do Susan and Kate and all of them know what it is?” She pulled back to watch his face carefully.
“No, they don’t. No one does. Just keep quiet, okay?”
“Does this have to do with the thing you hide in your pocket?” Luna asked him a bit louder. “Do you have it on you now?” She reached her hand forward to try to touch the side of his pants.
A couple people around them turned to look as she raised her voice to him. Chance caught her wrist easily in his hand, returned their stares, and smiled nervously before looking back at Luna. He had to resist the urge to shake her into silence as he let go of her arm.
“I don’t hide anything in my pocket okay?” he snarled. “That’s all just your imagination, Luna. Now drop it.”
Part of her was frightened by his sudden anger. He was hiding something from her…and from everyone else as well.
“Okay, we’re setting up to play,” a voice called from the stage. “We need a volunteer singer to help us out.”
“How about Chance does it?” Luna heard a nearby girl suggest.
The anger dissolved from Chance’s face as he turned to the girl who had spoken. Luna realized that all of his rage had been solely directed at her, and she felt oddly cold at the thought.
“Yeah, I’ll do it. Why not?” she barely heard him say.
He let go of her and moved through the cheering crowd toward the stage. The band took its place, and Chance stood at the microphone. He looked completely comfortable up there, normal, as if he weren’t the center of attention. The band began to play “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, and Luna watched Chance observantly. He began to sing the words gently, and his voice surprised her. It sounded beautiful.
As Luna watched him, she knew he looked like any other teenage boy. The girls around Luna cheered him on, but she stayed silent. His eyes flicked to her as he reached the chorus of the song, and they flashed in the lights. She knew there was something bad about him. Something that separated him from all the other teenage boys and made him a danger to the people who called him ‘friend.’
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No. I traveled once to visit the hometown of my main character, Luna, to see for myself what kind of a place it was.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The artist who did my cover is Mike Finch. I chose this concept because I wanted it to be simple—to show potential readers what the core of this story is which happens to be death. The handle in the skull is the favorite weapon of the antagonist, Chance. While the cover is both simple, and eye-drawing, it is also very symbolic of the themes of the book.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I think the hardest part was keeping consistency in Chance’s mind. He’s both unstable but cold and calculating. Keeping the balance between both without him either doing something out of character or something that dramatically affects the plot without reason was pretty tough.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?
I would pick Taissa Farmiga for Luna and Evan Peters for Chance. They’re both such wonderful actors, and their back and forth on film is great, that I think they would nail the lead roles. Evan Peters especially since he has a knack for psychotic roles.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never give up. Writing is a tough business but wear your battle scars proudly and never let anyone take away the joy it gives you.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I appreciate each and every person that reads Dead by Morning. It’s readers that make my work worthwhile!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m currently reading 1984 by George Orwell.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I don’t remember the first book I read, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve read books ahead of my time.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
I would love to meet Eminem. His music has been such a huge motivating factor in my life both writing-wise and otherwise. A lot of my characters were developed with the aid of his music, and I think it would be an amazing opportunity to sit down and talk with him about what inspired him to create his music.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Besides writing, I like to read. I also like to go for walks and birdwatch.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
My favorite show is American Horror Story, though lately I’ve been absorbed in Supernatural. My favorite film is from 1989, it’s a high-school dark comedy movie called Heathers.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
My favorite food is pizza. I love to listen to Eminem, My Chemical Romance, and Pink.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
If I was not a writer, I probably would have been either a medical examiner or a paleontologist. I’ve studied both of them heavily, and find paleontology to be specifically interesting.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?