Today we're excited to chat with Kayla Olson, author of The Sandcastle Empire. 

Read on for more about Kayla and her book, plus a giveaway!




YABC:  What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

My inspiration for The Sandcastle Empire came from a larger-than-life longing for a beach vacation mixed with withdrawals from LOST (I was—and remain!—a superfan of the show)! So, in short, the island setting inspired it—instead of a dreamy vacation, though, the island quickly became a place I’d never want to visit. ;)

YABC:   Which came first, the title or the novel?

The title was one of the first pieces to fall into place for the book, which isn’t unusual for me—if memory serves, it came to me pretty early on while I was writing the first draft. It definitely helped shape the book itself; I loved it as a metaphor, for how quickly illusions of power can be crushed or swept away by the tide.

YABC:  Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?

The most important thing I’ve learned as a writer has been to cultivate a grateful heart at every step of the way. Before I started querying, I remember committing to gratitude, thinking, This—creating a manuscript I’m proud of, something I love—is the last thing that will be within my control. I can’t control whether an agent or editor will read it at just the right time, and love it just enough; I can’t control if anyone says yes to anything I put out there along the way. And if they do say yes, there will always be a new thing to crave, because life is just like that. So, my goal has been to choose gratitude during all parts of the path to publication, bumpy and smooth alike—that perspective hasn’t always been easy to pursue, especially in times of disappointment and frustration and stress, but the pursuit has undoubtedly shaped my experience as a writer for the better.

YABC:  What do you like most about the cover of the book?

Ooh, good question! I love the ominous shades of green, and how stark and simple the title is—I particularly love the title font and its color! (I have alllll the heart-eyes for that sharp M in Empire) This cover is much more menacing and mysterious than anything I ever envisioned on my own, and I think the tone they created fits the book really well.

YABC:  What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2017?

It is always such a difficult (but FUN) task to narrow this question down to just one book, so…I’m going to cheat, just a little. First, a book I am looking forward to: Julie C. Dao’s FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS, out October 10th (Philomel/Penguin). It’s described as “The Wrath and the Dawn meets Snow White and the Huntsman in this dark and mystical East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress.” (RIGHT??!) Next, a book you should be looking forward to, in addition to the one I just mentioned: Tracey Neithercott’s GRAY WOLF ISLAND, also out October 10th (Random House). I adored this book; it’s full of secrets and intrigue, a setting that could basically be a character, and lots of adventure—all of this, plus writing that is so, so gorgeous. I get chills whenever I think about it. Like now, for example.

YABC:  What’s up next for you?

I’m writing another book for HarperTeen, planned for Fall 2018, and I’m super excited about it! Can’t reveal details just yet, but suffice it to say it’s very different from The Sandcastle Empire, yet is definitely still very me, style-wise. It’s another YA sci-fi/survival story…and that’s all I’ll say, for now. I can’t wait to share more!

YABC:  Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?

It truly depends on the project…or on which day you ask me the question. I love that feeling of discovery that comes with drafting a book for the first time—but I also love the feeling of making a book even stronger through the process of revision. On the flip side, drafting can be like pulling teeth, and revision can be maddening when you get stuck on problems that feel impossible. If I had to choose, though…I’d say…revision. Today, anyway.

YABC:  What would you say is your superpower?

My superpower is the preternatural gift of being able to detect where Starbucks locations are, with little-to-no help from Google or any prior experience visiting a given area. (This superpower was much more impressive before there was a Starbucks on every corner.)




Meet Kayla Olson!

  1. Kayla Olson lives in Texas with her family. She loves the beach but would hate to be stranded on one. If she were, however, her essential survival items would be black coffee from a French press, the darkest chocolate, and an army of Sharpie highlighters. THE SANDCASTLE EMPIRE is her first book. 


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Meet The Sandcastle Empire!


Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. And even though Eden has lost everything to them, she refuses to die by their hands. She knows the coordinates to the only neutral ground left in the world, a place called Sanctuary Island, and she is desperate to escape to its shores.

Eden finally reaches the island and meets others resistant to the Wolves. But the solace is short- lived when one of Eden’s new friends goes missing. Braving the jungle in search of their lost ally, they quickly discover Sanctuary is filled with lethal traps and an enemy they never expected.

This island might be deadlier than the world Eden left behind, but surviving it is the only thing that stands between her and freedom. 


Amazon * B & N Indiebound





The Sandcastle Empire

By: Kayla Olson

Release Date: June 6, 2017




      Two winners will receive a copy of The Sandcastle Empire (Kayla Olson) US Only

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*


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