Interview With Author Kayla Cunningham
Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I have two education degrees and teach history to high school students and adult ESL classes. On top of that, I volunteer as a Hostage Crisis Negotiator. Right now, I’m working on my Ph.D. in Teaching English as a Second Language. My husband and I also enjoy taking flying lessons together, which adds some excitement to our lives.
One thing I absolutely love is traveling and meeting people from different cultures around the world. I’ve hosted six boys from China and have visited Asia multiple times. It’s always an incredible experience to explore new landscapes and learn about vibrant traditions.
I was born in San Luis Obispo and grew up near Santa Cruz, California. Nature and the environment hold a special place in my heart because of my coastal upbringing. I’m also passionate about addressing issues of racism, including the rise in Asian hate crimes during the pandemic.
In addition to teaching, I’m a writer. I recently published my first contemporary romance novel, “Fated to Love You.” I just finished the second book in the “Chasing the Comet” series, and I’m currently working on a Young Adult fantasy trilogy called “Storm Breaker.”
At its core, the Chasing the Comet series is a three-part story about finding true love in the face of adversity and racism. It explores themes of grief, loss, hope, and healing, and it is my deepest desire that readers will be transported by the characters’ journey and inspired to embrace diversity and love in their own lives.
The intricate plot and the beautifully developed characters will keep you invested and engrossed from start to finish. I can’t wait for readers to dive into this immersive continuation of the story that will take them on an emotional journey through love, loss, and perseverance. It’s an exciting and engaging read that fans of the first book won’t want to miss. Trust me, you won’t be able to put it down once you start reading!
You can find more about me and my work on my website: https://kaylacunninghamauthor.com/. I’d love to connect with fellow readers, writers, and anyone who shares my passions.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Fated to Love You and the Chasing the Comet series was written in response to the rise in Asian racism during the pandemic years. I write for change, because my pen is the most powerful tool God has given me, and it is not the time to be silent. Instead, it is time to #writeforchange. There is a great quote in the movie 42, about Jackie Robinson. The quote was, “Maybe tomorrow we’ll all wear 42, that way they won’t tell us apart.” Growing up in a baseball loving household, today I want to wear the #42. I do so with ink.
As a teacher and basketball coach, I had the privilege to host six boys from Asian countries. As a host mom, these boys became part of my family. I have visited them in China and Taiwan in recent years. These boys will always be like the brothers I never had. While Asian racism has always existed, there has been a sharp increase in harassment and violence against Asians since 2020. I witnessed firsthand some of the horrific things that were done or said to my ‘family’ because of their nationality, and I felt ashamed. The country I love no longer seemed as progressive or enlightened as I once believed. It was as if we’d stepped back in time. Some of you may ask, why did I feel guilty? It’s not like I said or did any of those hurtful things. What makes me responsible? It’s simple. Because there was nothing, I was doing to help promote change.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
As a full-time teacher during the day, with multiple other jobs to make ends meet, finding a few moments to write was a constant struggle. However, I knew that this story deserved my time and attention, so I would stay up late into the night, often past midnight, to work on the book.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I love Sarah J. Maas, Cassandra Clare, JK Rowling, Tessa Bailey, Ali Hazelwood, Helen Hoang, and Nicholas Sparks.
What are you working on now?
The second installment of the “Chasing the Comet” series is called “Threads of Fate.” Just like the first book, Threads of Fate is a contemporary romance full of unexpected twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the very end. Despite the odds against them, Cassie and Xuan remain steadfast in their epic love story, willing to do whatever it takes to find their way back to each other – even if it means braving the very forces of the universe that conspire to keep them apart.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Goodreads: Goodreads is a popular platform for book lovers. Create an author profile, add your books to your profile, interact with readers, participate in book discussions, and leverage their advertising options to reach a wider audience.
Book promotion websites: There are several websites dedicated to promoting books, such as BookBub, BookGorilla, and Bargain Booksy. These platforms offer various promotional opportunities, including discounted book promotions, author spotlights, and book recommendations to their subscribers.
Book bloggers and reviewers: Research and reach out to book bloggers and reviewers who specialize in your genre. Offer them review copies of your book in exchange for honest reviews, guest posts, or interviews. Positive reviews can help generate buzz and attract more readers.
Online book communities and forums: Participate in online communities and forums related to books and writing, such as Goodreads groups, Reddit’s r/books, or niche-specific forums. Engage in discussions, share your expertise, and mention your book when relevant (without being overly promotional).
Collaborate with other authors: Network and collaborate with fellow authors through author events, joint promotions, or cross-promotion on social media. By leveraging each other’s audiences, you can expand your reach and gain exposure to new readers.
Remember that promoting your books is an ongoing effort. It’s important to build relationships with your readers, engage with your target audience, and consistently share updates about your work. Each author’s journey is unique, so it’s essential to experiment with different methods and find what works best for you and your books.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Here are a few key pieces of advice for new authors:
1. Write consistently: Make writing a regular habit. Set aside dedicated time each day or week to work on your writing projects. Consistency is key to honing your skills and making progress on your manuscript.
2. Read widely: Immerse yourself in different genres and styles of writing. Reading not only exposes you to different storytelling techniques but also helps you understand what works and what doesn’t. It can inspire new ideas and enhance your writing abilities.
3. Embrace the editing process: Writing is rewriting. Understand that the first draft is just the beginning. Embrace the editing process, revise your work, and strive to make it better. Seek feedback from trusted beta readers or join a writing group to gain different perspectives on your writing.
4. Develop your writer’s voice: Find your unique voice as an author. Experiment with different styles and approaches until you discover the one that feels authentic to you. Your voice is what sets you apart and makes your writing resonate with readers.
5. Embrace constructive criticism: Be open to feedback and critique. Constructive criticism can help you identify areas for improvement and refine your writing. Separate yourself from your work and view feedback as an opportunity to grow and strengthen your skills.
6. Persevere and stay resilient: Writing can be challenging and discouraging at times. Rejections may come your way, but don’t let them deter you. Stay resilient, believe in your abilities, and keep pushing forward. Persistence is often the key to success in the writing journey.
7. Connect with the writing community: Engage with other writers, attend writing conferences or workshops, and join online writing communities. Surrounding yourself with fellow writers provides support, inspiration, and opportunities for collaboration.
8. Celebrate small victories: Acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments along the way. Finishing a chapter, reaching a word count goal, or receiving positive feedback—these are all milestones worth recognizing. Celebrating small victories keeps your motivation high and fuels your writing journey.
9. Start marketing your book early! Publishers will ask for your different sites.
Remember, writing is a personal and creative endeavor. Trust in your unique voice, be persistent, and enjoy the process. With dedication and perseverance, you can bring your stories to life and share them with the world.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
The best advice I’ve ever heard is to “embrace failure as a stepping stone to success.” It’s a powerful reminder that setbacks and mistakes are not indicators of our worth or potential. Instead, they serve as valuable learning opportunities and catalysts for growth.
In the creative process, including writing, failure and rejection are inevitable. However, it’s how we respond to those challenges that truly matters. Embracing failure means reframing it as a natural part of the journey towards achieving our goals. It allows us to learn from our mistakes, adapt our approach, and ultimately persevere.
This advice encourages resilience, determination, and a willingness to take risks. It reminds us that setbacks are not permanent roadblocks but rather springboards for improvement. By embracing failure, we cultivate a growth mindset, allowing us to push beyond our comfort zones and reach our full potential.
So, whenever I face obstacles or encounter setbacks in my writing or any other aspect of life, I remind myself to embrace failure. I see it as an opportunity to learn, evolve, and ultimately move closer to success. It’s a valuable lesson that has empowered me to approach challenges with optimism, resilience, and a commitment to continuous improvement.
What are you reading now?
I am currently reading:
Love, Theoretically and Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood
and Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey
What’s next for you as a writer?
As a writer, my focus right now is on editing my second novel in the series. It’s an exciting phase where I get to refine and polish the story, ensuring that it captivates readers and delivers an engaging experience. I believe in the power of revision to elevate a manuscript to its full potential, so I’m dedicated to putting in the necessary time and effort to make it shine.
Once the editing process is complete, I’ll be eagerly looking forward to sharing the second installment of my series with readers. It’s always a thrill to see my work come to life and connect with people who enjoy the stories I create. The feedback and response from readers inspire me to continue writing and exploring new ideas.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
House of Earth and Blood, by Sarah J. Maas
Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass, 7), by Sarah J. Maas
Chain of Thorns, by Cassandra Clare
A Court of Wings and Ruin, by Sarah J. Maas
Author Websites and Profiles
Kayla Cunningham’s Social Media Links