Big thanks to Julie Israel for interviewing me on her blog!
In this interview Laekan gives us the scoop on Breathing Ghosts, her writing experience and next project here. Give it up for the author!
Me: Tell us a little about Breathing Ghosts.
Laekan Zea Kemp: Breathing Ghosts is a coming of age story about first love, self-acceptance, and conquering your fears.
Me: Where did the idea for Breathing Ghosts come from?
LZK: This will probably sound strange but I honestly can’t even remember anymore. The story actually started out as a screenplay and my goal was to create something that would be really interesting visually. I think the road trip aspect of the novel just developed as I was trying to pick a setting–there were too many interesting places to just choose one. River was also the first fully developed piece of the puzzle and since he was so closed off emotionally I knew sending him on a road trip would be the perfect way to get him out of his comfort zone.
Me: What was the most enjoyable part of the project?
LZK: The most enjoyable part of writing this particular book was seeing how much I’ve grown, not just as a writer but as a person. I hit a huge growth spurt during the writing of this novel and it really boosted my confidence. Not only that but by taking a character who was so closed off emotionally and forcing him, by the end of the story, to knock down those walls, I was able to knock down some of my own. I share many of River’s flaws and while I hadn’t intended to face them, that’s exactly what I ended up doing. And even though it was uncomfortable being vulnerable there’s no way I’d be the writer I am today had I not gone through that experience along with my character.
Me: What was most challenging part of the project?
LZK: For this particular story, I would say the hardest part was being driven by so many questions concerning grief and death and the meaning of life and never fully realizing all of the answers. But, in general, the hardest thing about writing is always the daily battle with self-doubt. It’s so hard to remain subjective enough to critique your own work while also being your own cheerleader. Trying to maneuver those highs and lows can really do a number on your emotions and I’m always drained by the time I finish a book.
Me: Any external influences that significantly informed the novel? Your own experiences, another book or story that inspired something?
LZK: Story ideas always come to me in the form of relationships and then as they develop, no matter how detached I think I am from a project, they always end up being about something I’m going through emotionally. It’s totally unintentional but through exploring River’s grief I was finally able to come to terms with my own–I’d lost my father about four years ago and it was the worst thing I’ve ever been through. For four years I’ve seen how that tragedy has changed not only me but the people around me and I wanted to know why. Why grief propels some people and destroys others. Why it pushes some people closer together and tears others apart. I wanted to know when it stops hurting and I wanted to know the trick to surviving in case it never does. Those were the things that drove me to my computer every day and even though writing this story didn’t deliver all of the answers, it was still a really incredible journey for me personally and I hope that comes through when people read the book.
Check out the rest of my interview via Author Interview: Laekan Zea Kemp on Breathing Ghosts.