Kayla Serrano: More to the Story
Taylor Harrington 7/29/2021 9:37am EST
We sat down with author Kayla Serrano to discuss her new novel, Unwritten Crimes.
The story follows Arielle, an accomplished author, on a cross-country move that leads her to a small beach town in Rhode Island. Knowing no one in this new place, Arielle quickly finds herself with a stalker. What was meant to be a peaceful break has suddenly turned into a nightmare as she questions everyone around her and wonders if the stalker is a new stranger in town or someone from her past.
Kayla’s writing pulls you in from the first page and has you racing to the finish, only to find yourself begging for more!
Kayla, before we get into Unwritten Crimes, I just want to know about your journey a little bit. How did you first get into writing?
Goodness, I have to say it was years ago, I was living in Texas, let’s say fourth or fifth grade, maybe. My English class had a little competition of who could write the best one-page story and you’d have to get up in front of the class and share it with everyone. Well, instead of one page, I wrote eight or nine pages, which is a lot for a fourth-grader. It was a thriller, and my classmates loved it, my teacher loved it, and I really enjoyed the process. It took off from there, and ever since then, I’ve been writing short stories and novels. I even enjoyed writing papers for school, believe it or not. So I’d have to say it’s been a long time in the making.
That’s incredible. Did you go to school for writing?
Somewhat. I went to Ohio Dominican University for a while and I changed my major a lot because I was told, you know, “You’re not going to be able to make a living as a writer.” So I started off with communications and I loved it. I think that definitely helped me be the writer that I want to be now, but it wasn’t until I went and got my master’s at Tiffin University that I studied Creative Writing. That really helped shape how I write and craft my skills. I really enjoyed it.
That’s very cool. How do you get into the proper headspace to write?
It definitely feels like I have to lock myself away. It’s kind of strange. I am very particular and I can only write at night. I have to be completely alone, whether it’s locked in a room, or all by myself in the apartment. Sometimes I wait until my boyfriend goes away for the weekend to visit his friends to write. I cannot be interrupted. I don’t like it. I will stay up all night and write until the sun comes up and then I’m done until the sun sets again.
That’s just when the wheels start turning.
That’s where I feel most inspired. I like to focus on thrillers. My next book is going to be a supernatural, scary type of book. So I really like to get in that headspace and you know, trick myself into feeling like somebody is watching me so I’m scared. People probably think I’m crazy.
We’re all a little crazy. When you’re writing these books and developing these characters, do you pull from your own life?
Absolutely. In Unwritten Crimes, I pulled a lot of variety of characters traits from people I know and from myself. There are a few things in there that unless you really know me, you wouldn’t know it is actually pulled from my life. I definitely have to include some of that because that’s what makes it my writing, but I don’t want the book to be “Oh, that’s definitely this person.” I don’t want people to pick up on that and think I’m writing about them because that might be a little creepy, but yeah, there are definitely certain aspects of the book that I pulled from my own life.
Would you like to see Unwritten Crimes be turned into a film?
I would die if any of my books become movies! I think that would be so cool. I took a lot of screenwriting classes in college so when I’m writing, I can also see the picture. It’s definitely in the back of my head, which is a struggle because sometimes I have to steer away from screenwriting and focus more on novel writing, which is entirely different.
Have you ever done screenwriting?
I have. I’ve written a few scripts, but I’ve never sent them off to anyone. I feel like my future is more in writing books than writing scripts, although if someone approaches me, I’m not going to hesitate. I would definitely do it.
Growing up, what authors were you pulled to?
Definitely JK Rowling, of course. CS Lewis, Stephen King. As a kid, Stephen King was my jam and he still is, which is why a lot of people think I’m totally weird. I was a 12-year-old reading Stephen King books. That was definitely me, and I binge-read those books like crazy. Then, you know, sprinkle in some random authors here and there because I definitely have always been interested in checking out indie authors who may have published a few books on their own.
That’s really fun. What advice would you give to a young author that maybe wants to choose this as their path?
Start immediately. When I was younger, I always wanted to be a writer, but I thought I had to hit certain milestones first to actually do it. I thought I had to go to school for writing, I thought I had to do internships, I thought I had to reach out to traditional public publishing companies. You don’t have to do that anymore. You don’t have to take that path in 2021. You can literally do it on your own on Amazon, and that is what makes it so amazing, especially in this craft, because people always say ‘I’ve always wanted to write, but I don’t know what to do’. Well, the first step is to write, and then after that, you just kind of figure it out. There’s an amazing writing community you can find on Facebook and other social media platforms that will help you figure out what your next step should be. You can weigh out your options that way. I would definitely say just start writing and don’t stop.
That’s such good advice for anybody that’s looking to get into writing or anything creative, really. Just put your foot in the fire and go with it.
Absolutely! You can’t let your fear keep you from doing it, otherwise, you’ll never get it done.
Can you give us a synopsis of Unwritten Crimes?
It’s about a young woman whose life starts to crumble inside and out and she makes the decision to travel halfway across the country to restart her life, take a break, while still working on her career very lightly. She meets some amazing people and she’s really liking where her life is going at this point. She’s found her new type of heaven if you will, but as she starts to get settled into her new home, strange occurrences start to happen. She spends the rest of the time there trying to figure what’s going on, who is doing this and is also trying to save her own life because no one else is going to help her. I think it’s definitely a very powerful story of reaching out to people for help if you need it, but that ultimately, you’re the only one that can help you.
It’s a true page-turner. The way you write is very clear and very thought-provoking. I always like to ask this question. Where do you see yourself in the next five years both in your personal and writing journeys?
I definitely want to see myself have a much bigger following. I want to have a few more books come out. I already have two ideas that are in the works right now, so I’m super excited about that. Quite frankly, from the people who have read Unwritten Crimes so far, they’re hoping there’s a sequel.
That would be amazing! I’m dying to know what happens next! Everybody really needs to check out Unwritten Crimes! How can people find the novel?
It is currently on Amazon and Barnes and Noble in paperback, and the ebook just launched yesterday. I’m super excited. Hopefully, it’ll be coming to iTunes soon, too.
Congratulations to you! How can people follow you personally to know when you’re putting out new work?
I have Instagram at @KaylaSerranoBooks, and then of course FaceBook and Twitter. I do have an author page coming out soon, too.
Listen to the interview here and everywhere podcasts are available!:
Originally from Edison, New Jersey, Taylor won the 2005 “Middlesex County Caring Award”, and hasn’t stopped caring since. When she is not writing or hosting More to the Story, Taylor can be found chasing her two mutts around Athens, Ohio where she currently resides with her husband. Moving to Appalachia has made a huge impact on her life, and she can’t wait to share some of her stories, laughs, and (mis)adventures with you!
*25% of all income made by Confessional Magazine via donations and elsewhere goes directly towards Felicia Merritt’s journey with Multiple Sclerosis. Support the Magazine: https://paypal.com/ConfessionalMagazine