Teenagers tend to keep journals. They are a form of pen-and-ink therapy for making sense of confusing relationships, articulating hazy dreams, and truly having the first and last word. I recall having a bunch of notebooks filled with random observations about frenemies, family, places I'd hoped to visit, and love interests--usually boring frogs disguised as junior high princes. Buried some three sweaters deep in my bureau, I prayed no one would ever, ever find those notebooks, least of all my older sister. Today, teens have digital diaries: personal blogs, Facebook and MySpace pages, and other virtual blank spaces for recording and sharing their thoughts. These don't seem so very private to me, but times have changed. Or have they...
A Wisconsin teenager named Cayla Kluver kept notebooks, lots of them. These colorful spiral notebooks are the kind you get at the local pharmacy or supermarket. Nothing fancy, but the perfect canvas for personalizing, or maybe writing a narrative. On those pages, Cayla set down story lines, kept lists of characters' names and attributes, established bloodlines, and mapped an entire kingdom named Hytanica. Her notes evolved into Legacy, a five-hundred page YA novel that she published at the tender age of fourteen. That's no typo: she was just fourteen.
An unusual fairytale story with a mystery and ancient rivalries at its heart, Legacy introduces readers to the beautiful and unpredictable Princess Alera, who is pursued by two very different suitors determined to win her over at any cost. Twists and turns abound much to the delight of readers. Rave customer reviews started rolling in, followed by two book awards in 2008. Then the book caught the attention of the editors at AmazonEncore, a new program that partners with authors to bring books that have found enthusiastic readers on Amazon.com to the attention of a much wider audience. Cayla's now sixteen and has just seen the AmazonEncore edition of Legacy release last week.
In the midst of writing Allegiance, the anticipated sequel to Legacy, Cayla's been a good sport about answering all of our questions. Here's a snippet of our Amazon interview with her (read more of our interview with Cayla Kluver, download a free chapter excerpt, and see more on our page for the AmazonEncore edition of Legacy).
Amazon.com: Your notebooks are filled with handwritten notes, lists, and charts (ie: character names, physical descriptions, family trees). Some people might think taking pen to paper is old fashioned. As an author, what is useful about the physical act of writing things down instead of say, typing them into a computer file?
Kluver: You're so close to it when you write in a notebook. I don't know how else to put it--there's nothing like having a hard copy of what you're working on, especially for editing. But a blank page and a pen give you complete freedom and room to scribble. A computer file is what I want to use once I actually know what I'm doing.