Dead by Morning tells the story of Luna Ketz, a pessimistic teen who finds herself trapped in a web of lies and murders during her senior year of high school. With us today is the author of Dead by Morning, Kayla Krantz.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
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.
2. When did you start writing?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I first started writing short stories when I was four, and I had a habit of it all throughout elementary school. I didn’t finish my first novel until I was fifteen, however.
3. Why did you start 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.
4. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
I first started working on Dead by Morning back in middle school. I never exactly had an “aha” moment where the idea came to me, but rather I had ideas every now and then that I jotted down. I didn’t think most of them would even be in the same book. I think the final push for the story came from a reoccurring dream that I started having around ninth grade. That factor seemed to tie the rest of my ideas together, and Dead by Morning was born.
Of course it went through a lot of work after that. I changed the POV many times, rewriting the entire book a total of nine times before I was satisfied with it. With each draft there were major changes such as character names and relationships. For example, when I first started this story, Luna was named Emma and Chance was Jacob. After many revisions, I found names that suited the personalities of the characters much better.
Content-wise, the story only got darker with time. With each new draft, I grew bolder with the details that I included in the book, and with the final draft, I no longer worried about possibly offending readers and focused instead on strengthening the story.
5. Tell us a little bit about your book’s title.
I went through a string of titles, unable to decide on one that fit the tone. I considered “DreamWorld,” “Chance,” and “The Other Dimension,” but none of them worked. 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!
6. Does your story have a moral?
The moral of Dead by Morning is that no one is perfect. Every one strives to achieve the things they feel are the most important. There’s a battle of good and evil inside of everyone, but which voice the person chooses to listen to is entirely up to them. They can desire to live their life, as Luna does, or set out to ruin others, like Chance.
7. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
Chance was my favorite character to write but really he goes hand-in-hand with Luna’s creation.
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.
8. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in Dead by Morning.
Not afraid of a challenge.
9. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I usually write whenever I find the time for it, but I find that my mind is clearest in the dead of mind, around two or three in the morning. I like to listen to set playlists when I write. I usually have a list of songs that help me work on plot and character for each story. For Dead by Morning, for example, my playlist consisted of a lot of Eminem.
I like to stick to myself when I write because people are distracting…especially when they keep talking to me when I’m in the middle of an idea. Being in isolation helps me focus on my thoughts. I don’t have typical daily goals, I’m usually happy even if I get a sentence down, but during Camp NaNoWriMo, I try to write about 1500 to 2000 words a day.
All of my first drafts must be written on paper. I cannot STAND to write on a computer. There’s just something about staring at a blank computer screen that’s so disheartening. I love the scribble of a pen or pencil on paper. It really brings me into the moment, making me feel more connected to my writing, if that makes sense.
10. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
When I start a new piece, I usually jot down on my ideas in a loose type of outline similar to the steps of the “hero’s journey.” When I actually get to writing, I stick to it and sometimes, I diverge. It all depends on what directions the characters decide to go! I feel as if outlines are a good place to begin but sticking with them can actually inhibit a work.
11. What is your favorite book genre?
I like to write about what makes the mind tick. Psychological fiction has always held my interest because I like to see what drives people to be evil and why others are able to resist this. I like to get inside the mind of the villain of a piece to see the story through their eyes. When I write, I generally go to whatever genre my ideas are in. For example, Dead by Morning is psychological fiction, however, my side project, The Council, is fantasy.
12. What are you currently reading?
Currently, I’m reading Evol by Jess Wygle. I like to read books about obsession because that’s the main topic of Dead by Morning so I like to see the way other authors explore it.
13. What is your favorite book?
My favorite book would have to be The Dark Half by Stephen King. I love the whole psychological aspect of the good versus evil battle inside the main character. I think this is a dear idea to me because it goes along with the ideas I put forth in my own book—the idea that good people may have evil inside of them and evil people may have some good.
14. Any project in the works?
My next project is a fantasy about witches entitled The Council which I actually just completed as of August 1st. In this story, Lilith Lace is a crippled witch from Ignis Coven, the witches of fire. In the Land of Five, she struggles to find out her true identity as a new threat emerges to the land—The Elementals. The only problem, she can’t decide if she must stand against them or with them.
15. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
From start to finish, it typically takes me about six to seven months to write a book and another month or so to edit and wrap up potential plot holes as well as ironing out character traits.
16. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
A story is good when it has believable characters in an engaging plot. I think stories are good when authors take the reins off their minds and allow their characters to breathe and develop in their created world rather than forcing them to work the way they want.
17. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
My advice to aspiring authors out there would be to never give up! It’s a hard business, and on most days you’ll want to bury your head in your pillows and stay there, but there is light at the end of the tunnel if you have the determination and willingness to put in the effort it takes to get there.
And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Books of course!
2. Dogs or cats?
3. Summer or winter?
4. Ebook or physical book?
5. Nights out or nights in?
6. Living in the city or living in the country?
Living in the country.
7. Reading or writing?
8. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Every language known to animals.
9. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
Going without movies/television for a week.
10. To never speak again or to never eat solid food again?
Never speak again.
11. To never read another book or to never watch another film?
Never watch another film.
12. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
Never again drink coffee.
13. Finding yourself trapped in the universe of The Walking Dead or finding yourself trapped in a slasher film?
In a slasher film.
Thank you for joining us, Kayla!
Readers: want to connect with Kayla? You can find her on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Also, be sure to check out her author website, blog, and her bio page. Interested in purchasing a copy of Dead by Morning? Click here.