It’s time for another edition of Indie Life, hosted by The Indelibles. You can sign up by clicking the graphic!
The last time I wrote one of these posts, I’d just embarked on the Breathing Ghosts blog tour, my fingers numb and my brain turned to mush after all of the emails I’d sent out. Two months later and reviews are still trickling in, although it’s starting to yield results that are, unfortunately, very similar to the first blog tour I attempted for The Things They Didn’t Bury. So many bloggers helped me out by posting excerpts and hosting giveaways but despite all of the exposure and the mostly positive reviews, it looks like maybe Breathing Ghosts just wasn’t…the one.
But today’s post is actually NOT about the trials and misfortunes of going indie. Todays’ post is about the freedom. See, if Breathing Ghosts had been traditionally published, its debut would have been considered a cataclysmic disaster. And being my junior novel, I probably would have been dropped from my publisher, my agent would have had to change her name, and I’d be looking for aluminum cans on the side of the highway. But alas! my anonymity is actually a godsend in times like these because it means that I get to try again.
Breathing Ghosts will find its audience eventually. Being digital, it’s infinite. And in the meantime I can keep writing, each new novel a new opportunity at being discovered. With traditional publishing, you don’t get that many second chances. You either have a great debut or you don’t, and despite having a PR team to shove your book into the face of every reader who steps foot into a Barnes and Noble, your chances of being the next JK Rowling still aren’t that great. It’s a crapshoot whether you’re indie or traditionally published but, the great thing about being indie that can’t be underestimated or over-valued, is that you can roll the dice as many times as you want. Say it with me, “as many times as you want.” There’s nothing more encouraging and there’s nothing more terrifying. The true gift of going indie is having an endless opportunity to make your dreams come true.
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.