“Take 5″ is an interview series that will highlight AHS Alumni who have a special story to tell or have a career, talent, or major achievement that may be of interest to other alumni and students.
Today we Take 5 with Catherine “Kit” Lyman. Kit, the daughter of Albion attorney, Nathan Lyman, and his wife, Gail, is an Albion High School graduate and valedictorian of the class of 2007. She went on to graduate from Cornell University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree, double majoring in Communication and Development Sociology. Since graduation, Kit has worked in Australia, Los Angeles, and Syracuse, gaining experience in screenwriting, script reading and analysis, production assistance, and web strategy. But, we will focus on her current role as “Author” in this edition of our Take 5 Interview Series.
Satan’s Garden is the recently self-published debut novel by Kit Lyman. It is a psychological thriller and coming-of-age story that follows twin sisters, Dani and Keely, whose lives diverge after one is kidnapped. The story chronicles their experiences in parallel over the course of six years, unfolding the independent challenges they face while struggling to survive worlds apart from each other. It inspires readers to see that love, friendship, and faith can survive in spite of the most terrible circumstances.
BLOGGER’s NOTE: I had the pleasure of reading Satan’s Garden just recently and LOVED it!!! It is a very emotional read that had me in tears and on the edge of my seat through most of it! I was reading chapter one while having lunch at the Village House Restaurant in Albion and found myself sobbing at the end of the chapter and wondering what the other diners must have thought of me! Well worth it……I highly recommend this book – it is amazing! You can purchase the book at Binding’s Bookstore in Albion, NY or online through Amazon.com, including Kindle editions.
For more information on Kit and her incredible book, click here to visit her website. Also, scroll down to view the book trailers embedded at the end of this interview.
Kit has two upcoming events scheduled in Albion:
Writer’s Workshop at Hoag Library
August 4, 2014 at 9:00 am
134 S. Main St
Albion, NY 14411
Book Signing – Bindings Bookstore
August 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm – 5:00
“If you would like to reserve a book for the signing, please contact Bindings Bookstore to request a book. I hope to see you all there.” ~ Kit Lyman
28 W. Bank St
Albion, NY 14411
And, now, for our interview with Kit Lyman:
1. Satan’s Garden tells a very intense and emotional story about the strengths and weaknesses of the main characters, Dani and Keely. What was your inspiration for the story and, in particular, Dani and Keely? What brought it all to life for you and compelled you to write it down?
Prior to writing my novel, my stories always had a very distinct origin. In my screenplays and short stories, I can remember the exact moments when the ideas came to me––the locations, people I was speaking with, the feelings of an experience. There were defined moments of clarity and a clear purpose behind all of them. However, Satan’s Garden arose from something different.
I was living in Los Angeles at the time, pursuing the screenwriting path and learning the intriguing culture of the entertainment industry. I was supposed to be finishing my pilot script, a light-hearted, comedic mockumentary. But, there were nine words I couldn’t get out of my head. I had always thought that death would be cold. The dark sentence was a splinter embedded in my brain that I couldn’t pluck out. So, I wrote the prologue. I didn’t have a storyline or an outline for my characters. However, those two pages stayed with me after that. No matter how hard I tried to focus on my scripts, I kept being pulled back into the murky beginnings of that story.
Dani and Keely came to me on their own terms. I was in a local park, which, by my neighborhood’s standards, was an acre-sized plot of land with a lone bench at its center, awkwardly placed beside a dried-up drinking fountain. That day, a mother had brought her two young girls there to fly a kite. The sisters looked close in age, maybe six and eight years old. The younger one gripped the furthest end of the shabby string as the oldest shot off instructions and repeatedly flung the flimsy plastic into the air. The small kite became bruised and bent as it repeatedly scraped the cracked dirt, but eventually they made it fly. They celebrated in that small moment, the oldest taking over the cord as the youngest smiled and clapped. Those sisters gave me Dani and Keely. I didn’t need to imagine or choose a list of defining traits to mold them into existence. Instead, they came to me as living, breathing beings, their story already in place.
In the beginning, I set out to write my novel as a way to transition from screenwriting. Writing a book offers more freedom, professionally and personally. Since nine out of ten movies are adapted from a book, I saw that I could carve my own path by becoming an author. However, as the story evolved and Dani and Keely became more defined, the process became something more. I found purpose in bringing them to life. I wanted to capture these characters, allowing others to experience the story along with me.
2. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer and how did you get started? What drove you to write a novel and self-publish it? What, if any, role did Albion High School and/or your former teachers play in your chosen path?
I made the decision to pursue a writing career during my junior year of college while studying abroad in Australia. I had the privilege of working for Seph McKenna (Albion native), who is the Head of Australian Production at Roadshow Films. During my time at Roadshow, my primary responsibilities included writing coverage for screenplays, which involves summarizing market feasibility and profit potential for submitted scripts. However, another aspect of the internship was learning the art of storytelling. Seph sent me on a ceaseless search to broaden my study, providing me with books, films, and workshops to investigate how to bring a story to life. My passion grew out of these experiences. I was all-in.
Originally, I set my heart on screenwriting because of my experience in Australia. I headed out to LA after graduating from college in 2011. In the time that I was there, I not only learned a great deal about my writing style but also what I envisioned for my life. Satan’s Garden was a turning point for me, freeing me from a one-track mindset and opening my mind to different possibilities.
In terms of self-publishing versus the traditional route, it was a decision that I put a lot of thought into and at times struggled with. I didn’t self-publish because I no longer believe in traditional publishers. Instead, I self-published because I think the querying process is overpopulated. Being a debut author gives you very little leverage, and instead of telling agents and publishers to believe in my story, I wanted to show them what kind of impact it could make. Some think that publishing a book yourself places it into the “used goods” pile, but I like to believe that good stories will eventually make their way to the top. Self-publishing has offered me a platform to prove myself and earn my spot as a writer. Instead of it sitting as an unpublished manuscript, it’s out on the market, earning readers and making waves. It puts the cards back in my hand. My end goal is to land an agent and sign with a publisher because I believe that’s how I’ll ultimately expand my readership.
As for the role that ACS played in my life, there isn’t quite one place I can begin and one place I can end when I think of its part in it all. Not only the teachers, but also the coaches, mentors, sports fans, and fellow students helped to shape me into a creative and hard-working adult. Growing up is largely about finding the confidence to be the person you’re supposed to be. I’m not sure if I would have found that confidence if I grew up somewhere else. My upbringing offered me every opportunity. It shaped me, moved me, and ultimately defined me. Albion stands in vast difference to “Ridgewood,” one of the contrived towns used in my book, and I’m very grateful for that. My years at Albion High School were filled with defining moments, and I’ll always be indebted to those who had a hand in that.
3. What will we see from you next? Do you have any projects or ideas for projects in the works – anything you are willing to share with us?
I’ve already started working on my second novel, which will be another psychological thriller. It’s entitled The Sixth Fear, which is in reference to the five basic fears described in psychology. It explores the emotions that make us human and the beauty that can grow out of the depths of tragedy. Like Satan’s Garden, I aim for it to be a thriller that does more than shock an audience. In the end, I don’t want to write stories that are simply dark and twisted. I prefer stories that manage to highlight the sweeter sides of life despite devastating situations.
Also, I am currently working on putting together a collection of my short stories. The series will be called “Second Chances.” I haven’t decided on a plan for releasing them, but readers can sign up for my mailing list to keep up-to-date on future developments.
4. You were the 2007 recipient of the Paul R. Haines Memorial Scholarship ($1500) administered by the Albion High School Alumni Foundation. How did that scholarship help you?
The Paul R. Haines Memorial Scholarship was actually set aside for my study abroad, so one could say it had a direct impact on my writing career. Australia was the catalyst, one of the most defining experiences in my life. Having financial backing from my community will always remind me of where it all started. It was in those Albion walls that I had become a writer. I just didn’t know it yet.
The scholarships I earned through the Albion High School Alumni Foundation encouraged me to take a chance on the things I believe in. It helped provide me with opportunities to purchase reading material and workshops that have been instrumental for me as a writer. Without these scholarships, I would have had difficulty pursuing these additional opportunities.
5. What advice would you give Albion High School students and recent graduates regarding their future endeavors? Any last thoughts/word of wisdom for us?
It’s not in the dreaming; it’s in the doing. The hardest and most rewarding parts of life are in the doing. It is the stepping off that sidewalk and into the road so that you can make it to the other side before the light turns red again. Sometimes you walk off the curb yourself, but most times there are people behind you, lightly pushing you forward. Surround yourself with those people. Find the ones who give you momentum, encouraging you to take action and pursue your interests.
You don’t have to get it right the first time around. Chances are, you won’t. I didn’t. I’m sure some will see my time in LA as a failure, simply because it didn’t end up being my final destination. I didn’t follow the path that I set out to pursue. Experiences, even the wrong ones, help us to discover what we need in our lives. When it comes down to it, LA is one of my greatest successes yet. I left at a time that was right for me and didn’t stay just to prove to others that I could do it. And, an amazing novel arose out of that experience.
You never know how it’s all going to turn out. Your life will surprise you if you let it, and I hope you do. Do instead of dream. Keep the right people behind you. Follow any inkling of interest. Be honest with yourself. And find out what you don’t want. I believe that if you do those things, you’ll eventually get it right.
Posted by Kim Wright Pritt
Photos and videos courtesy of Kit Lyman at www.kitlyman.com