NAW Interview with Erica Kiefer

Erica Kiefer grew up living abroad in Asia, including Taiwan, Fiji, Thailand and Indonesia. She gained a great respect for the beautiful mosaic of cultures found in various parts of the world. After graduating from International School Bangkok, she attended Brigham Young University in Utah, where she earned a degree in Recreation Therapy. Her career as a Recreation Therapist has allowed her to work with at-risk youth since 2007.

Erica also loves singing, reading, writing, and satisfying her sweet-tooth with chocolate-chip cookies.

Lingering Echoes was signed by Clean Teen Publishing and released November 2013. Visit her here.

NAW- Tell us about your book, Borrowed Angel: Coping with the Loss of a Child. How difficult was it writing a book based on personal experience?

Borrowed Angel is about my first-born son passing away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, so there were times when writing about my grief and healing process was very emotional, as you can imagine. However, overall, I found the writing process quite therapeutic. The book derived from very detailed blog entries that I used as a means to journal my grief. As an introvert, I didn’t like calling up family or friends in the moment when I was hurting. Instead, I’d pull up my blog and write everything I was feeling, and this always made me feel so much better, and allowed me to pause and find insight in my experience. So the book almost wrote itself piece by piece as I continued blogging and capturing my healing journey, making writing the book itself an easier process.

NAW- What drew you to writing?

As a young child, I always enjoyed writing stories, as well as plays for my friends and siblings to act out. (My favorite is a rendition of Romeo and Juliet that I forced my younger sister and older brother to participate in. Somewhere, there is a hilarious video of this!) When I was nine, I began my first journal and faithfully started a new journal every year until I graduated from college. Writing has always been a safe haven for my thoughts, and a place where I could safely explore my emotions. I also thrived on receiving positive and supportive feedback from my school teachers throughout the years, giving me confidence and encouragement to continue.

NAW- Tell us about the book series Lingering Echoes. What is it about? How did you get the idea for it?

Lingering Echoes was the first novel I completed, and is a contemporary young adult fiction that includes an intriguing trifecta of romance, mystery, and suspense! Lingering Echoes addresses the grief and loss of a teenage girl who is suffering from survivor’s guilt after her cousin drowns in a river. (Oddly enough, I explored this written world of grief and guilt before experiencing it for myself when my baby boy passed away a few months after completing the book.) In addition to this emotional account of loss, the main character, Allie, meets a handsome local boy who helps her heal. However, his own hidden secrets sets them up for a dangerous encounter with his past.
The first scene of the story came to me while I was in college and walking to class. Instead of paying attention to my Humanities lecture, I hand-wrote a poignant scene that would later become part of chapter two in Lingering Echoes. I wouldn’t pick up those pages for a few more years, and when I did, I still didn’t know where exactly the story was going. I discovered Allie and Damien’s story almost chapter to chapter as I wrote it.

NAW- Tell us about your other works.

Rumors is the prequel to Lingering Echoes that can be read before or after the first book in the series. Rumors takes place one year before Lingering Echoes, though it leads right into the next book. It’s about Allie Collin’s senior year and describes the changes that take place for her while she tries to deal with the recent loss of her cousin. Life changes when a loved one dies, and Allie’s previous world of boys and basketball just doesn’t seem as important as it once was. Rumors is about Allie trying to combat all the gossip floating around her, and is an exploration of her changed identity and all the trouble that comes along with the decisions she makes.
My latest work in progress is called Vanishing Act. While it is not a sequel per se to Lingering Echoes, there are repeat characters who play main roles in the book. Those who have read Lingering Echoes will be thrilled to read more about Aaron Jackson, definitely a favorite character introduced in Lingering Echoes and Rumors. However, it can also be read as a standalone novel and covers similar themes as Lingering Echoes, as far as troubled pasts returning to conflict the main characters. There are also the elements of mystery and suspense that will keep the reader turning pages to find out the fate of these characters!

NAW- Tell us about your publishing journey.

Does the fact that my husband bought me “Publishing for Dummies” tell you anything? I was as green as green could be when it came to getting published! Shortly after finishing my book, I went to a writer’s conference and took a million notes on how to publish traditionally. I spent the summer figuring out how to write query letters, submit to literary agents, and deal with rejection after rejection! This process continued for three years, although my efforts to submit started to dwindle.
The best thing that happened to me was networking with a local author, who added me to an online writer’s group. Through that group, I heard about a smaller, independent publishing company called Clean Teen Publishing. I decided this would be my last submission, deciding that sometimes your first book doesn’t get published and to move on… Fortunately, and to my utter shock and excitement, they loved my book and picked me up! It has been the best experience working with CTP and I have learned so much this past year!
Now, crazily enough, Borrowed Angel was picked up by a different publishing company called Walnut Springs only a couple weeks prior to Lingering Echoes’ acceptance. Needless to say, I was thrust into the publishing world at full force and it’s been a lot of work, with so much fun and satisfaction in the process.

NAW- Tell us about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing?

I am a busy mom with two kids at home right now and one on the way! My 3 ½ year-old daughter, Aiyana, and my 2-year-old son, Aaron, keep me on my toes all day long, except for the blessing of coordinated nap times in the early afternoon! If I’m not using nap time to write, I take a nap myself, especially now that I am weeks away from welcoming another little boy into our family.  I’ve been married to my awesome, incredibly supportive husband, Dan, for almost ten years now, and we live in Las Vegas, Nevada where we intend to stay for a long time!
When I’m not writing or take care of my kiddos, I do enjoy reading or zoning out to an intriguing TV series with my husband (Currently, we are huge fans of Blacklist!). If I were in a different stage in my life, I’d love to play rugby again, which I played in college, or join some kind of local sports team. I love exercise and being a part of a group and having fun together.
I do make sure to get enough “me time”, which consists of eating frozen yogurt or shopping for clothes or home decor. All of the above is very relaxing to me when I get to be on my own.

NAW- Please name your favourite writers. Are there any who you’d like to name as an inspiration?

I’ve read a few books by Colleen Hoover and I loved Hopeless in particular! I just read one of her newest books, Never Never and I’m excited to read part two of that series.
I do tend to follow the trends, so I have loved Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games series and Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, although for both of them, the first book in the series is my favorite. And yes, I was even a huge Twilight fan before the movies came out and made me slightly embarrassed to admit this… But in all honesty, I thoroughly enjoyed the Twilight series. I guess you can see from these favorites that I’m not particular to just one genre!

NAW-What are you currently reading?

Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker. I’m only a couple of chapters in, but it captured my interest so far!

NAW- What will you be working on next?

With Vanishing Act freshly submitted to my publisher, I am taking a little leave from writing as I prepare for my newest little one to arrive beginning of March! To be honest, I’m not sure what my next piece will be! I intend on taking this break to continue reading and letting myself be inspired to something new. I’m excited that my next work could be anything!

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