Today I’m chatting with the lovely Kendra Leighton, author of upcoming YA release GLIMPSE. The book is out in June with Much-in-Litte and is a ghost story inspired by Alfred Noyes’ poem ‘The Highwayman’. The MC, Liz, was in an accident and has no memory of the first ten years of her life. She begins to see strange things–glimpses–and must deal with the darkness these visions bring. Sounds wonderfully creepy. I can’t wait!
KO: Hello, Kendra! Good to have you here. First, can you tell us a little about GLIMPSE?
KL: Hi Kate, thanks so much for having me! GLIMPSE is a YA paranormal romance inspired by Alfred Noyes’ poem ‘The Highwayman’. It’s my debut novel, and is out mid-June — not long now!
KO: GLIMPSE is inspired by ‘The Highwayman’, which is something that attracted me to the novel in the first place. Can you tell us a little more about the poem and how you’ve weaved it into your story writing?
KL: I’ve always loved ‘The Highwayman’ poem. For those who haven’t read it, it was published in 1906 but set in the 1700s, and is about a highwayman and his lover, Bess. Bess sacrifices herself to save the highwayman, but events take a tragic turn as he tries to avenge her death and gets killed too. However, all is not lost, for their love is so strong they continue their romance from the beyond…
I’ve always been drawn to stories about forbidden and eternal love, so when I had a story idea of my own based around ’The Highwayman’, I knew I had to write it. It’s hard to describe how I’ve used the poem in GLIMPSE without giving too much away, but I will say my novel isn’t a retelling, and is set in the present day, over two hundred years after the poem’s events.
KO: When researching, what did you particularly enjoy looking into?
KL: I didn’t need to do that much research for GLIMPSE, but there were a few chapters that needed a historical base. My research was mostly to do with the history of highwaymen, and it was a lot of fun. Highway robbery was such a violent and dangerous profession, yet it was glamorised hugely—both then and now—and I find that fascinating.
KO: If your book had a theme song, what would it be?
KL: ‘Breaking Down’ by Florence and the Machine.
KO: Liz sounds like a great character, and I’m looking forward to meeting her when GLIMPSE is released! Which other characters in YA books could you see her making friends with?
KL: Great question! Liz and Mara Dyer from Michelle Hodkin’s series have very different personalities, but I think would have a lot to talk about. They could discuss the strange things that happen to them, and feel crazy together! Poppy Sinclair from Sharon Jones’ DEAD JEALOUS and DEAD SILENT would perhaps be a more constructive friend for Liz, since Poppy’s good at solving mysteries whilst still being open to the possibility of the supernatural.
KO: Who was your favourite character to write?
KL: I loved writing Scott, a boy Liz meets at her new school and…that’s about all I can say without spoilers! His motivations became much clearer to me while I was editing GLIMPSE, and he became such an interesting character to write.
KO: It’s almost time for your book to be released into the world! What are you most looking forward to?
KL: Holding a real copy in my hands! It’ll be wonderful but bizarre to see my words on something other than my laptop screen. Plus I love the cover my publisher commissioned, and can’t wait to see it in real life.
KO: And to wrap up, can we end with a quote from GLIMPSE?
KL: Sure! Here you go:
Joy saturates me as he steps from the shadows at the base of the tree trunk. He smiles, his face lighting up the night.
There’s a posy of wild flowers in his hand. His golden hair and green eyes and the blues and reds of the flower petals have taken all the colour from the world for themselves. He takes a rose from the bunch, throws it up to my window for me to catch and press to my chest.
A thorn snags my skin, and I flinch. Something warm and wet runs down my finger. But when I look down, there’s no mere trickle of blood, my hands are slick with it.
KO: Thanks so much, Kendra!