In August of 2014, Vancouver-born author Kilayla Pilon released her debut novel, The Prophet’s Daughter. A tale of deceit, redemption and the strength of the human spirit, The Prophet’s Daughter tells the story of Arin Lovelock, a sixteen-year-old girl forced to fight for her own survival in a post-apocalyptic world after her parents are brutally murdered.
Kilayla started writing when she was a child and, after learning about Jim Jones and the People’s Temple in a Human Behaviors class, began crafting the story that would eventually become her debut novel.
Learn more about Kilayla and The Prophet’s Daughter at kilaylapilon.wix.com/books.
What was your upbringing like, and how did it shape who you are today?
I was brought up in a rough neighbourhood surrounded by children and people of all cultures. We were not very well off, but I found the place more of a home and far more welcoming than I did when in homes of people who were not struggling in the financial part of life.
I grew up grateful for everything I got, brought up to love and to give everyone a chance. My mother did the best she could with what she had and, despite the fact that she wishes she could have done more, she’d done more than enough for me that I can never thankful in words.
In short, I was brought up in an area that wasn’t the best but I had a mother that loved and cared for me, and that made me into what I have become.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
It takes me away from the perils of the real world and helps me breathe. It helps me get rid of the clutter in my mind by writing a character either in the same situation as me or in something a lot worse.
Who have been the biggest influences on you, creatively or otherwise?
Influence wise, I would say J.K. Rowling with how she overcame her depression and continued to push through despite the fact that inside, her mind wanted to just give in. Eric Walters was one of the reasons I began to take writing as a serious outlet, as he’d come to my school when I was in Grade 7 and something about him, about everything he said just seemed to click.
When studying cults — and specifically The People’s Temple — what was it that you found most interesting or intriguing?
I found the psychology of it all to be the most intriguing. How people could be so willing to follow a man and his words without question. Or, in some cults, how they could be drive to commit acts so heinous that they found a way to justify what they were doing.
What was the most challenging part of the process of writing The Prophet’s Daughter?
SPOILER ALERT: The hardest part was writing Olive’s death scene. One of my nieces was six years old at the time of writing, and when I wrote it all I could imagine was the pain I would feel if it were her instead.
How much of yourself is there in Arin Lovelock?
I’d say she’s modeled after the part of me that is naïve, as well as the parts that are inconsistent and always changing. My mind, my decisions – I can change what I want to do and who I choose to trust, no matter what they have done to me, in seconds. I don’t have a set-in-stone personality, and I guess that is the part of me that I put into Arin – the lost little girl desperate to figure out just how she is going to survive in a world that wants to crush her.
What was it like seeing your book in print for the first time?
Indescribable, I couldn’t fathom that it was there and in my hands, that it had happened and that I had taken a step towards completing my dream. It didn’t feel right, but it didn’t feel wrong either – it felt weird, to be honest.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
I think the best advice I received is that there will always be someone better – people will always compare their work to the work of others. I just need to accept that life is like that and just write because it’s what I love to do, even if there are others who are better.
Where are you most comfortable and/or happy?
I am most comfortable at school in the student success room, oddly enough. It’s often where I feel I can be myself and not care what others think.
If you could go anywhere in the world for a week-long vacation, where would you choose?
I’d love to Scotland, see the Fairypools. It’s just my dream to see them. I don’t know why, though.
What’s the last great movie you saw?
I can’t remember, though I did love Alice in Wonderland – the Tim Burton version. That was one of my favourite movies.
What are you working on next?
Seven Thousand Shadows, the sequel to The Prophet’s Daughter. It’s going to have a lot more personal turmoil, a little bit of romance and I hope it’ll bring light to some very serious issues that exist not only in Arin’s life but in the lives of men and woman in society now.