Finalist Spotlight

KayLynn Flanders

KayLynn Flanders has a degree in English Language and editing, and has been a freelance editor and book designer for over twelve years. Her debut novel, Shielded, was published by Delacorte Press/PRH, with the sequel forthcoming. KayLynn and her family live in Utah between some mountains and a lake, and she is directionally challenged without them. She loves reading, writing, traveling, and volleyball, and thinks there’s nothing better than a spur-of-the-moment road trip.

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KayLynn Flanders on her Whitney Awards Finalist novel,


What was the inspiration for your Whitney Awards finalist novel?

I had a dream with a massive cliffhanger ending, and when I woke up, I had to find a way to keep the people in my dream from dying. The only answer I could think of was *magic*. I started asking questions about who the characters where, why they were in danger, and built the whole story around that intense dream.

What was the tipping point that turned this novel from “just an idea” to a project you HAD to complete?

I attended a writing conference where the keynote speaker talked about how stories have power to connect people in a world desperate to divide them, and how we can add our own light to the world and bring joy to others with our words. I wanted that—I wanted to share the kind of stories I grew up with, ones that inspired and uplifted me. Stories that were an escape and filled me with hope.

 How did this book evolve into the final story? Did it end up the way you thought it would, or did the plot or characters change along the way?

The book changed so much along the way. It went through about twenty major revisions, with huge changes in the plot and side characters as I figured out how to create the best story I could. The one thing that didn’t change—or didn’t change much—was the main character.

Who is your favorite secondary character, and why?

I love all my characters, but probably Mari. She’s a character that was so easy to write, and she always added so much to every scene she’s in.

If your book was made into a movie, which scene would you want to be a background extra in?

The ball!