Fast road to the shelves: Austin woman publishes first novel

Published 6:01 am Monday, September 26, 2016

Things can happen quickly, and Kayla Sturm can attest to that as much as anybody.

In a relatively short period of time, Sturm has gone from the point of a finished manuscript to published author.

“This is an extremely quick turn around,” Said Sturm, who’s book “Heartless” hit national shelves on Sept. 6.

Kayla Sturm

Kayla Sturm

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Sturm started writing the book on May 15 of last year with a relatively modest beginning stemming from a simple concept.

“(The idea) just hit me one day,” Sturm said. “I sat down with the idea I was playing with and started writing the first few pages. I sat on it, and then went back to looking over it.”

From there the idea took the life that book turned into.

The story, which falls into the realm of urban fantasy set in the United States about 80 years into the future, centers around a pair of sisters — twins. According to the synopsis on Tate Publishing, the publishing house behind the book, one sister tears the dark heart out of the other sister in the hopes of finding a cure for the darkness in the Jade Pool.

All the while hoping to avoid the evil of Queen Aralyn.

The setting takes place in a United States vastly different from the one we’re in now. An insurrection has led to a split country where the north and western parts are now ruled by a monarchy while those who still want to live free do so as outcasts in the rest of the US.

“This is the fourth generation,” Sturm said. “A very different country.”

A different beginning

Sturm didn’t start out with the intention to write a book. In fact her first forays into writing weren’t in the world of novels at all.

Instead, Sturm focused on a different medium of the word.

“I used to write poetry a lot,” Sturm said. “Back in middle school I started a poetry journal and I continued through high school and then on and off through life.”

Sturm then took a short creative writing class at Riverland Community College.

She moved from poetry to try and take on some short stories before trying to write novels and like many who tried to write books hit some snags.



“I’ve tried writing books before,” Sturm said. “It’s so easy to start and at the beginning I think, ‘This thing can go anywhere,’ and that’s the most exciting part.”

“And then I get shy and quit,” Sturm admitted. “Something about this one stuck.”

Sturm had a goal of around 85,000 and when the manuscript was finished, she took a shotgun approach to submission.

“I was submitting everywhere,” Sturm said. “It takes weeks and weeks to hear back. I had four chapters out to lots of places and was calling places back. Tate was one for the places that was willing to work with me.”

Getting to this part in the process was just as fast as the overall process.

“I was surprised,” Sturm admitted. “Some authors, even the author of ‘The Help,’ were turned down by over 60 people.”

On to the next

With an experience perhaps unlike some other authors, Sturm is excited to begin work on the as-of-now unnamed sequel.

But before she does that, she’s delving back into “Heartless,” to make sure the sequel will have the required depth for readers who want that connection to the first book.

“I’m going to go back to read the book for a third time to make sure there is something I did not miss,” she said.

Despite the good experience of actually getting the book published, Sturm admits to being uncertain about the idea of not only seeing the book in print but seeing it hit the shelves.

“I was kind of nervous,” she admitted. “You hope you come up with something different and I hope it works.”

With this new book under her belt though Sturm is ready for the future.

“I think I have  a long road ahead of me,” she said. “I’m 26 and I have plenty of years to put in the work. I Just have to continue to grind.”