On car writing and being "small"--Kalynn Bayron in the KidLit Studio
Updated: Mar 14
When Kalynn Bayron posted on Twitter, "Please invite BIPOC creatives to talk or write about craft, process, our fave books or tv shows or comics, or literally anything other than just 'You’re a BIPOC, why do you deserve to exist in this space?' It’s exhausting," our ears at Inside the KidLit Studio perked up immediately. It's exactly what we love to do with authors in our hot seat. And because of fans like me--those who love classic themes, updated, with a twist--Kalynn is one author we HAD to put in the hot seat.
Because in that updated classics arena, Kalynn is prolific.
Though a classically-trained vocalist who studied opera in college, Kalynn first and foremost identified herself as a storyteller, and she always found herself returning to the YA arena as her storytelling medium of choice. In July of 2020, her debut YA fantasy, Cinderella is Dead, came out from Bloomsbury to great acclaim; amongst much other applause, the book, described as "Handmaid’s Tale meets Hunger Games but with QPOC," received a Booklist starred review and was featured on the curated Publisher's Weekly YA 2019-2020 Booklist. Bloomsbury went on to buy three more titles from Kalynn--This Poison Heart, a YA fantasy about a girl with a gift that must help her battle a centuries-old curse, comes out in spring of 2022; The Vanquishers, pitched as Watchmen meets Stranger Things with a Buffy twist, is Kalynn's fall 2022 MG debut; and an untitled YA fairy tale reimagining is planned for spring of 2023.
With all that forthcoming, we're not sure how Kalynn made time to answer the KidLit Studio questions, but we're sure glad she did.
1. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
There are a lot of things in my life that I’m proud of but I think my biggest achievement
is that I’ve finally begun to not only understand my own worth but to not allow anyone
else to have a say in how I feel about myself. That’s huge for me.
2. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I don’t know if there is such a thing. I don’t think you can be happy if you don’t
experience sadness. You have to have both. There has to be balance.
3. What is your most treasured possession?
I have some things my dad left me when he passed away. I have this little bottle of his
cologne. I don’t even think they make this stuff anymore.
4. When and where were you the happiest?
I’m happiest when I’m with my family and when I’m creating.
5. Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could pick up languages faster. I’m learning French and Spanish and it’s slow
going, but I have a friend who started learning German when she was in her late 30s
and is now fluent after a few years. I don’t know if that’s talent or commitment or what,
but I’d like to be able to do that.
6. Where would you like to live?
I don’t know! I’m in San Antonio now, and I’m slowly learning to love the heat. I love
going to the pool in the summer, but I’m also from Alaska and there will always be a
part of me that wants snow in the winter. (We got it this year in San Antonio, though!) I
think maybe I’d like to travel and see what my options are before I decide. We’ll see.
7. What do you most value in your friends?
Honesty and a sense of humor. If we’re friends, don’t let me go out the house looking a
mess. Please. Tell me something if it’s not right! And I’m pretty introverted, but I
absolutely love being around people who aren’t. I get to live vicariously through them.
8. Which living person do you most admire?
It’s really hard to choose just one, but if I had to, it would probably be Angela Davis.
9. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Being the bigger person. Sometimes I want to be small as hell. I refuse to turn the other
cheek when it comes to bigotry, racism, homophobia, and violence. I’m supposed to be
the bigger person while I’m being actively harmed for the sake of politeness?
10. What is your favorite and least favorite word?
Favorite word: charcuterie
Least favorite word: moist
11. What is your perfect environment for creative work?
I have had to learn to be much more flexible over the past year as we’ve dealt with the
pandemic. Pre-COVID I would have said at my desk or on the couch with a sweet tea, a
good playlist, and a boring movie on in the background while my kids are at school and
my partner is at work. But now it’s literally just whenever I have time. Everyone’s home
so there’s no privacy, no quiet. The perfect environment doesn’t exist anymore, but
there is still work that needs to be done so I try to squeeze it in whenever I can. I’ve had
a few writing sessions alone in my car.
12. What’s the weirdest thing about you that you’re willing to share?
I have a completely irrational fear of opossums. I despise them. They scare me and I
can’t help but think of them as huge rats. The teeth and the tail—it’s too much.
13. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I studied music in college and I’ve always loved to sing, but the way my anxiety is set
up…lol. I think I’d like to try my hand at musical theater at some point. I’d love to play a
14. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year? (Doesn’t have to be kidlit.)
The Changeling by Victor LaValle
15. What is the favorite book of your childhood?
I can’t choose just one. I read everything I could get my hands on: The Baby-Sitter’s
Club books, Nancy Drew, Goosebumps, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Where the
Sidewalk Ends. Everything by Beverly Cleary. I also loved fairy tales in general.
More about Kalynn:
Her website: https://www.kalynnbayron.com
A podcast episode with Kalynn on Professional Book Nerds: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/interview-with-kalynn-bayron-author-of-cinderella-is-dead/id1065515588?i=1000482861261
A "chaotic" (but nonetheless enthusiastic) review of Cinderella is Dead by Cecilia Reads: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhY4a24y-Kk