Interview with Kendra Leighton

Ever since I first heard about Glimpse on Project UKYA I’ve been wanting to read it. The book isn’t out until June 2014 so in the meantime I’ve invited Kendra round for virtual tea & chocolate to get to know her better. 🙂

Kendra is a YA author represented by Lutyens & Rubinstein Literary Agency. Her debut novel, Glimpse, will be published in June 2014 by Much-in-Little.

Kendra has a BA in English Literature from Durham University. Her first ‘grown-up’ job was teaching English in China, Spain, and the UK. She discovered her love for YA fiction while working as a middle-school English teacher.

In 2008, she left teaching to start a raw chocolate company in Cambridge. These days, when she’s not making chocolate, she can usually be found writing, reading, taste-testing chocolate (far more than necessary), or trying to steal other people’s cats.
Twitter: @KendraLeighton

There is already a lot of buzz about Glimpse, how does that make you feel?
Really excited and a little nervous! I’m sure every debut author must feel the same at handing over their work. I’m especially curious (and biting my nails) to find out what people will think of Glimpse, since it’s inspired by Noyes’ poem ‘The Highwayman’, which is so very loved. I’m hoping people will like the spin I’ve taken on it.

Why did you want to write this book?
I’ve always loved classic Gothic fiction from the Romantic and Victorian periods, and love YA paranormal romance, so whatever I wrote first was always going to have a dark, Gothic flavour. I wanted to write a romantic ghost story, something with mystery and cobwebs and heart-pounding love, and ‘The Highwayman’ poem popped instantly to mind.
Glimpse is about more than ’The Highwayman’ though—it isn’t a retelling. It’s got romance and mystery, but it’s really about self-acceptance, which is another theme close to my heart.

I love the cover, what do you think of it? Were you involved in the design?
Thank you! I love it too. I wasn’t involved in the design, so it was an entirely exciting moment when it pinged into my inbox. I think my editor and the designer have done such a great job.

Tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
Until last year, I worked part-time as a cat carer in an animal shelter. I’ve emptied more litter trays than anyone should ever have to.

What’s the scariest thing about your journey so far?
Sending my book to agents. The thought that three years’ work might lead to nothing was a scary one, though writers have to face that kind of fear all the time.

And the best?
The day Glimpse sold to a publisher and I realised it was actually going to be a *real* book. Still can’t quite believe it.

So what do you think you’ll do the first time you see Glimpse in a shop?
Have a minor out-of-body experience, take about twenty photos, buy a copy, then go and eat cake.

You’re a chocolatier as well, tell us about that? Do you ever get sick of chocolate?
My boyfriend and I started Rawr (our chocolate company) five years ago. We make organic chocolate bars and sell around the UK and Europe. Having our own company can be hard work, but I get to listen to audio books while working and I can plan my own schedule, so it perfectly complements writing. Plus, having hundreds of kilos of chocolate around can be useful when writing tricky scenes… (And no, I don’t get sick of eating chocolate, though I sometimes wish I would!)

LUNA: Well I had to try this chocolate (for research purposes) and it’s yummy, especially the After Dinner.
You can find the website here:

What do you think are the differences between UK and US YA?
Hmm, that’s a tricky one. Obviously, there are content differences  – you won’t find many mean-girl cheerleaders in UK YA, or people talking about Eastenders in US YA. I’ve heard it said that UK YA’s generally grittier. I’m making an effort to read more UKYA and really enjoying it, though I love both US and UKYA equally!

Tell us what happens next…
More writing! I’ve got a couple of new story ideas that I can’t wait to get working on.

Quickfire round

Tea or coffee?
Tea, especially if it’s jasmine.

What book have you read the most?
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood.

Favourite place?

When no one is watching do you dance?

One thing you couldn’t write without?
A full belly. My mind’s really good at procrastinating by thinking about food.

You can have one superpower, what would you like?
The ability to control time.

What word describes you best?

Do you ever re-arrange book displays in bookshops?
Only if it can be done without messing up the alphabetisation!

What’s the perfect cure to a bad day?
Listening to a favourite song really loudly and dancing (if no-one is watching).

And finally, what is the question you wish people would ask and never do?
“How does it feel to have won the lottery?” (I can dream!)


Seven years ago Liz was in a car accident which killed her mother and left her with no memory of the first ten years of her life. Since then nothing has felt quite right: on top of the perpetual nightmares, she keeps catching glimpses of things, things that can’t really be there, that no-one else can see.

When she inherits the famous Highwayman Inn from her grandfather, and moves to live there with her dad, she is convinced it will be a fresh start: but if anything, life at the Inn is stranger than ever. The sinister caretaker and his creepy son seem to be watching her constantly . . . A boy called Zachary keeps haunting her . . . And out of the pitch-black night, the Highwayman comes riding.

Inspired by Alfred Noyes’ poem ‘The Highwayman’, Glimpse is a ghost story, a love story, and a story of overcoming trauma.

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