Laekan is a writer and explorer extraordinaire who grew up in the flatlands of West Texas. She graduated from Texas Tech with a BA in Creative Writing and is the author of the multicultural New Adult novels The Things They Didn't Bury, Orphans of Paradise, and the upcoming Breathing Ghosts.
Stalk Laekan on:
I remember writing my first book when I was in 8th grade but, for me, I don't think it was ever a conscious decision. I'd always had an active imagination and liked to spin ordinary things into really crazy stories--which at my age now would be considered lying haha. And that tendency really progressed into storytelling when my best friend got a video camera one year for her birthday and we started making these really bizarre movies about the mob and witches and drug addiction. Yeah, we were probably twelve. It didn't become a conscious choice until my first year of college when I had to choose a degree plan. I went back and forth between Creative Writing and Social Work but ultimately decided to go with writing because I'd never taken a creative writing course in my life and I really wanted to spend some time honing my craft.
Who are your influences?
Artistically I find inspiration all over the place and am influenced by everything I read. Growing up I was really drawn to character driven stories and looked up to authors like Wally Lamb, Khaled Hosseini, and Melina Marchetta. But I also really love stories that feel contemporary but also have a sense of magical realism like Maggie Stiefvater's books. Her prose is just so lyrical and that's definitely something I strive for whenever I write.
Who is your favorite author? what is your favorite book?
Pretty much the same authors as listed above: Melina Marchetta, Maggie Steifvater, John Green, Wally Lamb, and Khaled Hosseini. My current favorite reads are On The Jellicoe Road and I Know This Much Is True.
What do you like to do when your not writing?
This might seem obvious but when I'm not writing I love to read! I'm also a total TV addict and love binge watching shows on Netflix. My favorites right now are Scandal and Dexter (except for those last few scenes of the series finale--What was up with that?) Next up I'll probably start Breaking Bad (I know, I know. I'm so behind) and American Horror Story.
Where do you like to write?
Ideally, I would love to write in a big beautiful office next to a window overlooking a snow capped mountain range. But for now I just write at a small black desk in a corner of my apartment while my dog sits in my lap and tries to lick my face off.
What is you favorite genre?
Hmm...I'm pretty open but I'm a die hard contemporary fan. I also love Latin Historical fiction and Paranormal Romance.
What inspired you to write Breathing Ghosts?
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.
How would you describe Breathing Ghosts to someone you had just met?
It's a coming of age story about a young man who goes on an epic journey after the death of his girlfriend armed with his memories and her unfulfilled dreams and learns that in life there are no accidents, only miracles.
Do you believe in ghosts?
Breathing Ghosts isn't your traditional ghost story and Nia's continued presence after her death is more of a result of River's grief than anything supernatural. But as for whether ghosts really exist or not, I'm pretty open minded and would never rule anything out.
Do any of the characters in the novel remind you if yourself?
There are bits and pieces of myself in every character I write and sometimes that's intentional and sometimes it's totally by accident. The hardest thing is re-reading something I've written and seeing my flaws in a particular character. Being faced with your own imperfections can be a little jarring but watching that character come to terms with who they are and ultimately come to accept herself can also be really therapeutic.
What is your favorite thing about writing?
My favorite thing about writing is the freedom. I can go anywhere I want, be anything I want, say anything I want, and feel anything I want and that's incredibly liberating.
Are you going to stay in the same genre for future projects?
I know a lot of people think sticking to one genre is the ticket to success but I just can't work that way. Every book I've ever written has been so different and the project I'm working on now is just as unique. But for me, that's the key to avoiding burn out. I love exploring new territory and I can see myself writing in many different genres in the future.
Are you working on anything right now?
Call it the curse of writer’s brain but I've always got something in the works! Right now I’m working on a YA contemporary trilogy (with a side of sci-fi/magical realism) and am half way through the first draft of book 2. Without giving too much away, it centers around a seventeen-year-old girl who suffers from Klein Levin syndrome, better known as Sleeping Beauty syndrome, and it’s probably the most romance heavy of all of my projects.
When was Breathing Ghosts released?
Breathing Ghosts was officially released on September 30th!
Is there anything else you would like to say to readers?
I'd just like to say thank you. Truly. It means so much when a reader takes a chance on your book and it means even more when you're an indie author. So I'd like to thank not just every reader who's picked up a copy of my book but every reader who supports indie authors and who so selflessly and enthusiastically champions books that might otherwise stay invisible.
About the book.
She is a winding cosmos, bleeding and bursting into night. She is a dream. She is dead.
River has just lost the one thing that matters most to him—Nia—and all she's left behind is a pile of scribbled love notes detailing their past and a pin-holed map planning out their future. Hopes and dreams confined to one dimension now that she's gone and River’s too afraid to leave his hometown, crippled by the same anxiety that’s plagued his mother for as long as he can remember.
But after a strange encounter with the only girl he ever loved a week after laying her to rest, River, armed with nothing but her map and his memories, decides to finally leave and never look back. And with the help of a pair of eccentrically named siblings as well as a mutt with three legs, he sets out to do the very thing Nia always knew how to do better than he ever could—live.
From the moonlit beaches off of Florida's east coast, to the forests of Mississippi, to Bourbon Street, Cadillac Ranch, and the Arizona desert, River is faced with not only Nia's ghost but his own and he learns that in life there are no accidents, only miracles.