Author Interview: The Literary Spotlight with Author K. L. Walther
I had the pleasure of interviewing the talented K. L. Walther, an accomplished author in the realm of contemporary young adult romance. In our conversation, Walther shared her journey into the world of writing, revealing that her passion for storytelling was kindled during college. She embarked on her writing odyssey by serendipitously enrolling in a creative writing workshop, a decision that would alter the course of her life.
As she delved into the intricacies of crafting narratives, Walther quickly found herself captivated and, in her own words, “head-over-heels in love.” This newfound passion culminated in the creation of her first manuscript, a work she holds dear despite its destined obscurity. With a touch of humility, she acknowledges its significance as a stepping stone in her literary evolution.
For K.L. Walther, the journey from avid reader to accomplished author is a testament to the transformative power of following one’s creative instincts. Through her engaging stories, such as “The Summer of Broken Rules,” Walther continues to weave tales that resonate with young adult audiences, capturing the essence of love and self-discovery.
Cyra: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your writing background? What inspired you to become a writer, and how did your writing journey begin?
Kaethe: Hi, I’m K.L. Walther, and I write contemporary young adult romance! I’ve always been an avid reader and dreamt of someday writing a book. It wasn’t until college that I started seriously writing; I took a creative writing workshop on a whim, and almost immediately fell head-over-heels in love. It led me to my first manuscript (which I am proud of, but it will never see the light of day), and the rest, as they say, is history!
Cyra: Could you share a glimpse into your creative process? How do you approach developing ideas and turning them into stories? Do you have any specific rituals or habits that help you get into the writing zone?
Kaethe: I usually start with a place. Settings are so important to me; I love a strong sense of place in my stories, wanting the setting to feel like its own character. I went to boarding school, so Maybe Meant To Be, my debut novel, is my love letter to that chapter of my life. Similarly, The Summer Of Broken Rules is set on Martha’s Vineyard, where my family has been vacationing since before I was born.
I love writing about places I know intimately. Characters come next—I think about how they connect to the setting—and from there, the themes I want to explore and a plot for how best to do that.
Playlists are an essential for me! I like to write in silence (or to the tune of a “crackling fire” video on YouTube), but I listen to my manuscript playlists when I’m brainstorming or outlining. I like to light a candle to create a cozy environment and make a cup of coffee or tea. And then I just write.
I’ve tried shooting for a daily word count or chapter count, but I’ve only found it effective for one book so far. The more I write, the more I’m learning that each project is unique.
Cyra: Who are some of your favorite authors or literary influences, and how have they shaped your own writing style? Are there any books or works that have had a profound impact on your writing career?
Kaethe: Ah, I have so many favorite authors from so many genres! Jane Austen, Emily Henry, Donna Tartt, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Amor Towles, Rebecca Serle, Elin Hilderbrand, Sally Rooney, Steven Rowley, Carola Lovering, and Beatriz Williams! Young adult, specifically: Leigh Bardugo, Stephanie Perkins, Ruta Sepetys, Stephanie Garber, Erin Hahn, and Nicola Yoon.
They each have their own distinctive style, but all help me strengthen my love for setting, dialogue, keen observation, and fostering a true sense of connection between their characters and readers. Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss was the book that made me want to write my own (if I had to wager a guess, I think I’ve read it ten times).
It has everything I love in a young adult novel: boarding school, a tight-knit and entertaining ensemble cast, clever dialogue, and a swoony romance. After each and every time I devoured it as a teenager, I would think to myself, I wish I wrote this!
Cyra: What challenges have you faced as a writer, and how did you overcome them? How do you handle writer’s block or periods of self-doubt?
Kaethe: Rejection is always a tough pill to swallow. I’ve written several manuscripts that I love and believe should have a place on the shelf, but it seems they are destined to stay on my laptop instead. I try to get over this by throwing myself into a new
I wouldn’t categorize it specifically as “self-doubt,” but I have a difficult time shaking off the need to outdo myself on every book I write. The Summer Of Broken Rules is such a special story to me, and its level of success has become nothing short of surreal…but I feel a lot pressure to write something equally loved by readers or even better.
I’m finding the best way to battle this is to not write the same book twice, if that makes sense. I keep what I like to believe are my “signatures” as a writer, but I switch the setting and explore different themes so that I cannot directly compare my books.
The Summer Of Broken Rules is set on the beach while my most recent release, What Happens After Midnight, takes place at a boarding school, and they focus on different topics. My next book will follow in a similar fashion. That isn’t to say I’ll never return to familiar settings, but I want them to feel fresh in my mind again before I do!
The most effective cure for my writer’s block is exercise. I’ll go for a long walk or a run to clear my head (and listen to my “Writer’s Block” playlist). My mom and my literary agent also do wonders when I’m stuck. They’re the best sounding boards.
Cyra: How do you approach developing compelling and relatable characters in your stories? Are there any strategies or exercises you use to ensure your characters feel authentic and three-dimensional?
Kaethe: Most of my characters are stitched together using pieces of people I know and love. They are not based on a singular someone in my life, but those fragments drawn from real life help to then find that fictional magic that makes them themselves. For example, Nick from Maybe Meant To Be started out as ¼ my brother, ¼ my father, and ¼ my godfather, and ¼ the boy I hoped to fall in love with one day.
Fusing all of those qualities somehow transformed the character into someone that can only described as “Nick.” He is totally and completely his own person.
Strategy? I talk about them frequently in conversation with my family and friends, as if they are real people. It works!
Cyra: Where do you find inspiration for your stories? Are there any specific themes or topics you enjoy exploring in your writing?
Kaethe: Inspiration always comes from my family, friends, our favorite memories, places we love, and occasionally, my comfort movies and TV shows. I love to write coming-of-age stories with humor and heart. Various family and friend dynamics will never cease to fascinate me, and I live for a sweet romance!
Cyra: Is there a particular book or project you are most proud of? Could you share the story behind it? What is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer for you?
Kaethe: I am proud of all of my books, but What Happens After Midnight took the better part of a decade to write, and to say I’m thrilled that it is now on shelves would be an understatement. It is based on a prank my late father pulled his senior year at boarding school, and I have been trying to fictionalize it for years. Something just wasn’t clicking, until suddenly everything did—and that is the best feeling.
I love knowing that my stories are making a difference in my readers’ lives. The heartfelt Instagram messages and physical letters I receive, as well as meeting my readers in-person, always puts a smile on my face and stokes the fire within me. I want to keep writing for them, to keep bringing them joy and helping them feel seen and heard.
Editing and Revision:
Cyra: How important do you think the editing and revision process is for a writer? Could you share your approach to editing your own work? Do you have any suggestions for writers on how to improve their editing skills?
Kaethe: I personally love the revision process! I love taking what I have on the page and coaxing it into something that shines. I always edit as I write, do a round of revisions after finishing the manuscript, and then I send my mother and my agent pages for their opinions. Because at a certain point, I become too close to the manuscript. Someone a few degrees removed will have more thought- provoking feedback.
I also have a small group of beta-readers. I email them the manuscript, and after reading it, they fill out a questionnaire to see if what I wrote hits in the way I intended.
Sharing your work has proved helpful to me, but I never do so until I feel comfortable with and confident in it. I also find that editing other people’s work — even if it is just a text for a friend — makes you a better editor. You are unknowingly teaching and learning with yourself.
Advice for Budding Writers:
Cyra: What advice would you give to aspiring authors who are just starting their writing journey? How do you handle rejection and criticism in the publishing world?
Kaethe: Write what you love. Don’t just write to the tune of the market’s current trend. Please write the book of your heart. And no matter what, keep going. It doesn’t have to be every day, but put words on the page. Otherwise, you’re never going to get to type “The End” (and doing that is one of the best feelings in the world). I first always go on a healthy rant about rejection (my mother and boyfriend are saints for indulging me), but then I fully throw myself into a new or current project.
I try to forget the rejection, and for criticism, it depends. I try to turn any Goodreads or social media criticism into white noise (I shouldn’t be looking at reviews, anyway), and if it’s criticism from my agent or editor, it is usually constructive and opens a conversation about how to make my work stronger. It might not be fun, but it stretches me as a writer.
Cyra: Could you give us a sneak peek into any upcoming projects or books you’re currently working on? Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers and aspiring writers?
Kaethe: I have two books coming out in 2025, and I am very excited about both! One is a love letter to my childhood home and partially inspired by my experience as a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding, as well as my lack of a love life as a teenager. It is also another “Swiftie” book, with the overarching song being “Speak Now.” All I will say about the second book is that it is a contemporary retelling of my favorite eighties movie…
If you enjoyed reading this interview with author K. L. Walthar and got your dose of writing inspiration, please like, comment, and share. Subscribe to my newsletter to stay tuned for more inspirational interviews.