Today I have an interview with Khiana Washington. Khiana is doing something many older authors wish they had done – she is focusing on her writing at an early age. I think it’s safe to say that if Khiana keeps writing, she will have a lot of success with her books in the future. You can find out more about Khiana at her web site.
JGA: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. To start with, can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got started writing?
KW: My name is Khiana Washington, I am a jr. in high school and I am currently 16 years old. While some other kids my age are talented in sports or music, I picked up on the craft of writing. I am by no means a genius or prodigy of any sort, I still go to English class like any other kid in my grade, they only difference is I wrote a book. Writing is my absolute favorite thing to do because it is what allows me to express myself the most.
I had an idea for a story and I put it on paper; that’s how I got started writing. It sounds so simple when I say it, but I’m not sure if anyone knows how quite complicated it was. I didn’t really know what I was doing, I was only in 8th grade, not even half way through the year, but I sort of just shrugged and said “it can’t be too hard”.
JGA: How do you go about the actual process of writing?
KW: Ideally I would love to be able to write alone and in peace, but being a teenager doesn’t make that possible at all. I usually try to write when I’m at home, but if an idea pop ups I will quickly jot it down at school or if I’m over a friend’s house so I don’t forget. I have tons of random bits of writing in various notebooks and files on my computer considering I don’t actually write my story from beginning to end. I am continuously writing throughout the day, I never have a set schedule because usually I’m pretty busy.
JGA: How do you personally like to read books you buy these days?
KW: I love fiction novels, those are the types of books that interest me the most. I have noticed that I have been getting into more poetry lately, so that as well. I do own a kindle, which I got for Christmas about two years ago and I use it faithfully. However, I still purchase paperback books as well.
JGA: Which authors (or books) have had the most influence on your writing style, and why?
KW: I would have to say Jodi Picoult. She has written various novels that all have diverse themes. After reading, Change of Heart, it actually gave me a new way to look at how theme should play an important role to any story because that’s what really gives the story substances and can possibly alter the reader’s outlook. Reading her stories also made me aware of how complex stories can get and how it is necessary to not confuse your reader by tying it all together.
I also believe Ellen Hopkins has influenced my writing because she writes in such a poetic way that I have never really experienced before and it showed me not to be afraid to take risk. Also the plots to her stories are unique because they are so brutally honest. I learned from her that writing that although the work is fiction, writers must still write the truth, that’s how we relate to the audience.
JGA: How do you go about planning your writing?
KW: Honestly, I don’t plan my writing. I tried to write an outline, but it story overthrew it. I never go in sequence when I write. Actually in Looking Past the Mirror, I wrote the first paragraph and then I jumped straight to the last sentence. The first and last lines are the only things that haven’t changed since I originally wrote it. The only things that I do try to maintain are character profiles. I write a name, a few facts about what I in vision them to look like eye and hair color, then I write their personalities and how they change or remain the same throughout the book. I also have made several family trees in order to keep relatives straight.
JGA: Why did you decide to write your novel, “Looking Past the Mirror“?
KW: When I started writing “Looking Past the Mirror”, there was never really a time when I thought it would be a novel in the beginning. At first it was just something I wanted to show my mom. I really just wanted to tell a story, simple as that. Even after writing the first chapter it took me several more to realize I could actually write a book. So I guess I decided to write my novel because it was becoming too long for the short story I originally thought it would be.
JGA: Can you tell us a bit about the main character, Faith Jordaine, and some of the challenges she has to face as the story progresses?
KW: Faith Jordaine is a very unique character who I think represents much of the various problems teenagers and even some adults must face. She is 15 years old and she is dealing with the loss of her grandmother when we first meet her. Her mother is on drugs and her father is abusive so she really loses more than a grandmother, she loses her only support system. As the story goes on Faith really has a hard time accepting who she is and understanding how to accept the death of her loved one. Faith must look deep within her and find a way to be happy without relying on the destruction she brings to her life. Faith is a witty, sassy, and hot-tempered girl who is extremely vulnerable. As the story unfolds you will hate that you fall in love with her.
JGA: Who are the readers would enjoy “Looking Past the Mirror” the most?
KW: I believe that any age 12 and up would enjoy “Looking Past the Mirror”, but specifically teenage girls would be able to relate the most and get the most out of it.
JGA: What other items are you working on at the moment?
KW: I am currently working on several other projects, but the main items would be two completely different novels which are currently titled Good-bye and Bystanders. Good-bye really focuses on the value of relationships and how they can change at any given moment. Bystanders is a story that solely focuses on the supporting characters of the novel, rather than the main character because it aims to show how standing by when negative situations are happening and not doing anything, can be just as bad or worse than being in the situation.
JGA: If you could somehow change reality and become the author of any published book instead of the person who originally wrote it, which book would you make your own and why?
KW: I honestly think I would become the author of “Of Mice and Men”, originally written by John Steinbeck, which I’m sure you know. I chose this book simply because it is all that I dream to accomplish in one story. It has a dynamic story line and has the ability to draw you in and make you fall in love with the characters. It also teaches many valuable lessons without coming right out and saying it. It is a story that has stuck with me and that’s what I want to be able to do with my writing. I don’t want people to be able to forget.
JGA: Is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t asked?
KW: No, I think that’s about it. I just want to thank you for your time and I truly appreciate your efforts.