Spotlight Thursday: Kayla

Today we’re excited to spotlight an author who’s book is making the buzz and has a certain actor totally smitten!

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Every Thursday we spotlight authors, agents and more! It’s to let writers and readers know there are awesome resources out there! And awesome books!

Today we welcome author Kayla Olson to the blog! Her book The Sandcastle Empire  will not be released until next year but…it was opted for film! By none other than Leonadro DiCaprio! Check out the announcement here.

Now to the interview!

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Tawney:  Your book The Sandcastle Empire doesn’t come out until next year, but you had some big news regarding the film announcement with Leo and Paramount! Leonardo DiCaprioCongrats! How does it feel to be thrust into the spotlight so early before your book comes out? 


Kayla: After sitting on my secret news for so long before the story broke, it was a HUGE relief to finally be able to talk about it! Once the first Hollywood Reporter article went live, the one with the film news, it felt simultaneously more real *and* more surreal—it’s one thing to know your own secrets, and another thing for everyone else to suddenly know. It was the very best kind of whirlwind, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I’m very grateful for all the media attention it’s gotten so far, especially this far out from the book’s release—the only downside is that I’m totally eager to share the book with everyone! The time will pass quickly, though, I’m sure. 


Tawney: I find when I write my feet get cold, do you prefer fuzzy or tube socks? Is there a particular habit you have while writing?

 Kayla: If I had to choose between fuzzy v. tube socks, I’d go tube all the way—except, honestly, I’ve sort of become a legwarmer girl! I found the most excellent pair—pink/purple, knitted in a fair isle pattern—in a clearance bin for $2. They’re basically the best. As for particular habits, I have this one thunderstorm track that I bought on iTunes for 99¢, and I listen to it whenever I sit down to work. I’ve listened to it for so long, now, that it almost instantly puts me in a focused mindset.


Tawney: How did you come up with the idea for The Sandcastle Empire? It’s such a fantastic unique concept! 

Kayla: Thank you so much—that’s so kind of you to say! The very first seed of the idea was the setting, the island. I’ve always loved island settings, shows like Survivor and LOST.



After that initial idea seed, things came together all at once, for the most part—I knew I wanted to have some strong girl dynamics, four girls at the center of the story. I was also very intrigued by the combination of social issues and environmental change, as opposed to focusing on just one of those—like, what if sea level rise caught our country off guard sooner than we expected? What if disasters piled up on top of each other faster than we could deal with them? How would those things affect people’s everyday lives? There’s a lot of fear in this book, and a lot of I just want to survive pressed up against the problem of but my survival might mean you don’t get to.


Tawney: If you were stranded on an island, what three things would you want with you? 


Kayla: Does my family count as a thing? Wanting them with me seems selfish, like, HEY, come be stranded with me instead of hanging out at home with all your Legos! So even though I’d want them with me, I’ll choose three THING things instead. One: a giant package of dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s, even though I’d be disappointed to eat them at island-temperature instead of straight out of the refrigerator (seriously, try that, you guys)(SORRY AND YOU’RE WELCOME). Two: I’d wish for a Havenwater bottle, like Eden has in my book, with its filter that desalinates/sterilizes water from any source. Three: total toss-up between hair products and my guitar. Like, on one hand, my curly hair would be an absolute mess after two days on the island—but on the other hand, it might be nice to have something to do (bonus points: it could break up the endless hours of silence). 


Tawney: What are you working on now? 

Kayla: SO MANY THINGS. (If only I could work on them all at once!) Right now, I’m between Sandcastle revisions, so I’m bouncing between a few new projects at the moment—a bit of plotting here, a bit of drafting there, and tons of general excitement about bringing new characters to life. Writing takes so much patience and perseverance, but at the end of the day, I take so much joy in building worlds with words. I hope to share these new worlds one day, too.


Thank you Kayla for joining us today! We look forward to following you and THE SANDCASTLE EMPIRE! 


About the book: 

HarperTeen, Summer 2017

The book is set in 2049, when the Earth is at a breaking point due to climate change, coastal flooding, and overpopulation. A radical faction known as the Wolfpack has overthrown the government and taken control—now, the entire world is at war.

Day after day, Eden Andersen slips down to the boardwalk, watching and waiting until the perfect moment to escape. It’s been two years since Zero Day—two years since the Wolfpack plucked the privileged from lives they loved and shoved them into labor camps. Eden’s lost everything to the war, most notably her father. All she has left of him are the things the Wolves delivered to her after his disappearance: his wedding ring, his field guide full of notes, and a vial of his blood and teeth.

Finally, after countless boardwalk sunrises, Eden has her chance to escape. But it’s not the solo trip she’s dreamed of—three other girls end up on her boat, none of whom share her agenda. One thing they can all agree on, though: they want freedom. Together, they flee to an island in hopes of finding refuge from the war. Along the way, Eden finds clues as to what happened to her missing father—and finds out that she is the key to bringing down the Wolfpack.

Add to Goodreads!

About the Author:
Kayla Olson lives in Texas, and can usually be found in near proximity to black coffee, the darkest chocolate, Scrivener, and an army of Sharpie highlighters.
Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog!




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