Author Spotlight: Kalynn Bayron

Kalynn Bayron is an author and classically trained vocalist. She grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. When she’s not writing you can find her listening to Ella Fitzgerald on loop, attending the theater, watching scary movies, and spending time with her kids. Her YA fantasy CINDERELLA IS DEAD is out now!

What is your book about?

Cinderella Is Dead is the story of 16 year old Sophia Grimmins who is living in the capital city of the former kingdom of Cinderella. Cinderella has been dead for 200 years but her story has become the backbone of society. Young women are required to know the tale and recite its passages from memory. It is used to encourage them to be subservient, to distrust other women, to perpetuate dangerous societal norms, and to remind them that Cinderella would have been nothing had Prince Charming not plucked her from a life of obscurity.

Sophia is in love with her best friend, doubtful that the Cinderella story is real, and feeling trapped as the annual ball, now a mandatory event, approaches. She has a choice to make; stay and deny everything she knows to be true about herself or attempt to take a stand. Her choices lead her on a perilous journey to uncover hidden legacies of resistance and truths so shocking they threaten to shake the kingdom of Mersailles to its very foundations.

It’s a story about the power of questioning the status quo, of being willing to risk everything for a shot at freedom, and of understanding that we are enough, just as we are. 

What was your inspiration for your book?

I’ve always been fascinated by the real stories behind popular fairy tales. Snow White, Bluebeard, Hansel and Gretel all have some kernels of truth; usually something terrible that was changed or omitted entirely in favor of something more palatable. The stories were then used to teach children lessons about morality or societal expectations. I wondered what would happen if one of the most popular fairytales of all time was real and what might happen to a young girl who questioned the hidden truth behind the original tale. Beyond that, I wondered how this fairytale might affect someone who didn’t want to find a prince, charming or otherwise. We live in a world where the fairytales we encounter most often don’t involve intersectional identities so, for me, real-life has been more of an inspiration than anything else. 

What are the kinds of stories you want to write?

I want to write stories that appeal to all kinds of readers but are, at their heart, for young readers who haven’t had many opportunities to see themselves as the chosen ones, the dragon tamers and mermaids, the long lost members of a royal family, wielding magical powers and slaying vampires. I want to write stories that make my readers feel seen.  

How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?

I am a full time writer but I also have kids and a partner and interests outside of publishing, so I try to stick to a schedule. I take weekends off, give myself a lunch break, things like that. It’s hard not to look at my email or tinker with my WIP at all hours but I’m happier when I set boundaries.

Any advice for up and coming writers?

I would say be patient, publishing is a marathon not a sprint. Take any opportunity you can to improve your craft. Read broadly and often. Don’t give up. Persistence is so important because you will absolutely encounter obstacles that make you feel like giving up. Don’t. Keep pushing, keep writing, especially if you are from a historically underrepresented group because we need your stories and there is a place for them. Don’t ever let anybody tell you different.