New Kids On The Block 2018 with K. A. Reynolds

New Kids On The Block is a year-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader meant to welcome and celebrate new voices and debut authors in the literary community.

Are you a debut author whose book is being published in 2018? It’s not too late to sign-up! If you want to participate in New Kids On The Block this year, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! You can send a tweet or DM on Twitter to @Pop_Reader or email me at [email protected]. I would love to collaborate with you!

About K. A. Reynolds

K. A. Reynolds is a poet and writer from Winnipeg Canada currently residing in the wilds of Maine. Her superpowers include: Monty Python references, risqué madlibs, and saving spiders from certain peril. When not madly typing, daydreaming, or caring for the elderly, she enjoys laughing, smiling, apologizing (and other favorite Canadian pastimes), swapping bad jokes with her numerous offspring, herding various furry beasts, and reading strange and colorful tales expertly crafted by other imagination astronauts in love with words.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads

On Battling Monsters and Finding A Light In The Dark

Until I was six years old, I lived with my mother, grandparents and young uncle, in a little green house on a charming street in the Canadian prairies. I loved this house with my entire being. I had cats. A yard. A friend my age next door. A wonderful family. And the loveliest mother a girl could ask for.

She and I would sit outside by the garden and swing in the sun. She’d put daisies in my hair and tell me stories — she was a book worm like me. We were always together, her and I, so I’m told. In every photo from those days, my gentle mum radiated such a beautiful light. One year later, my mother, who’d recently married an abusive man, died by suicide. And all the light in my safe world blinked out.

Everything changed then. I didn’t know how to fight off my abusive step-father. How to fill the gnawing blackhole of emotions and confusion inside of myself. I was desperate for a friend who understood my sorrow, fear, and grief. Someone who’d survived the same darkness currently eating me alive. I read a few sad books but found no middle graders like me, which made me feel even more alone. I needed to know how to fight off the monsters that kept coming for me. How to turn the lights back on in my world and myself, so I wouldn’t end up like my mother. I needed something I never found until much later.

Still, somehow, through depression, anxiety, OCD, eating disorders, cutting, suicidal thoughts, and PTSD, I survived.

I went on to have kids, and the light around me flickered back to life. 😊 We had cats. We swung in the yard and sun. I put daisies in their hair and told them stories, as my mum had done for me. They filled the dark lonely space within me. I thought, maybe now, I can be happy. Until a string of disasters knocked the wind from my lungs and the fledgling light I’d been building within me blew out.

Our rental home was destroyed in a catastrophic puff-back — an explosion between furnace and chimney — while we were away. Very little inside could be saved — a few photo albums, baby books, a baby blanket I’d made. We had no insurance. We were poor. The home was declared unliveable, our possessions insoluble and toxic, and we had to leave.

It. Was. Hard. But we picked ourselves up in the dark and moved on.

Thirteen months later, just when we were starting to settle, the home we’d bought six months earlier burned to the ground. This time, we lost everything. Every memory and photo of our lives, every one of my mother and children, every treasure passed down for generations, gone in a blink. We’d lost too much too fast, and this was so much worse than even before.

My gran, who’d gone completely blind, had sent me all our family heirlooms for safe-keeping. Every time I’d talk to her after the fire, she’d remember something and ask in this small sad voice, “Kris, was that lost, too?” I’d feel sick with guilt when I had to tell her, “Yes, Gran. That, too.” ☹

All those treasures ended with me.

But, again, we picked ourselves up in the dark and moved on.

I got pregnant with my third child two months later — with no possessions, not even a home — Surprise! But we had insurance! So, we built our dream home! It was gorgeous, and life was bright! We thought for sure our luck was changing for the better. Five years later, in 2008, the housing recession hit. My husband was a home builder with his own business. We lost everything — his business, our savings and beautiful forever home, built from scratch, just for us. When it was repossessed, some of the hardest, blackest years of our lives ensued.

And yet…

Thanks to all I’d been through, I’d grown stronger. I went to battle with monsters and won. I had survived, time and again, these unbelievable nightmares, and I realized, all this time, I’d been searching the wrong places for that fragile light. That the lantern I’d been seeking had been inside me all along. It was dusty, and my hands were shaking, but I’d sparked a match and it took.

On December 19th, 2014, I had a vision of Cecelia, my main character from The Land of Yesterday, crouched in a house in the dark and terrible woods, crying, grieving, alone. I saw a dark lantern inside the blue girl she didn’t know was there and had to write her story. Three weeks later, I had a draft. The next year, I had an agent, went on sub, and sold the book in two weeks. I had found my light and wanted to see if she could find hers.

While writing The Land of Yesterday, I’ve revisited the most haunted parts of my psyche where the bones of my monsters are buried, and their ghosts still linger. But it was my absolute pleasure. I know the forest. I’ve been lost more times than I can count. I’ve crouched in the shadows and hid. Spun worlds from my imagination into which I could escape. I’ve been to battle with monsters. Been defeated and gotten back up. I’ve run through the darkness and come out the other side. I needed kids going through the same things to know they aren’t alone. That if myself and Cecelia could do it, they could, too.

And for those struggling now, so can you.

Keep going. Find your light.
I will be watching for you.

Title The Land of Yesterday
Author K. A. Reynolds
Pages 272 Pages
Intended Target Audience Middle Grade
To Be Published July 31st 2018 by HarperCollins
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

A tender and fantastical adventure story perfect for fans of Coraline.

After Cecelia Dahl’s little brother, Celadon, dies tragically, his soul goes where all souls go: the Land of Yesterday — and Cecelia is left behind in a fractured world without him.

Her beloved house’s spirit is crumbling beyond repair, her father is imprisoned by sorrow, and worst of all, her grief-stricken mother abandons the land of the living to follow Celadon into Yesterday.

It’s up to Cecelia to put her family back together, even if that means venturing into the dark and forbidden Land of Yesterday on her own. But as Cecilia braves a hot-air balloon commanded by two gnomes, a sea of daisies, and the Planet of Nightmares, it’s clear that even if she finds her family, she might not be able to save them.

And if she’s not careful, she might just become a lost soul herself, trapped forever in Yesterday.

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