The Author: Lakish’a
17 year old aspiring screenwriter and author, Lakish’a, is the writer of the new psychological thriller, Escaping Mr. Grayson. Born and raised in Zambia, Lakish’a works tirelessly to create work that inspires, connects and above all else entertains not only her fellow Africans but also all of her readers across borders. Her works include, highly successful online books; Kylie Burklin’s Killer and Tell Me I’m Beautiful among other many works in progress. Accumulating over 19,000 reads on social writing platforms such as Wattpad and Scriblyz, Lakish’a has made it her main focus to continuously illustrate various stories that leave her readers with a sense of shock and pure anticipation in its most enthusiastic form. Lakish’a is headstrong and passionate towards relating to her thousands of readers all over the world and appreciates having the opportunity to include her audience in her imagination and give them a glimpse of the world(s) that she creates for her characters. Some of her work has been discussed during her interview with the successful arts blog, betterauds. When she’s not writing, you might find her listening to music, singing in her room, spending time with her family, keeping in contact with friends and above all else, dreaming big.
The Book: Escaping Mr. Grayson
21-year-old Nailea Tembo has always been the perfect definition of reserved and anti-social, continuously being forced to live the way that her mother and her society expect her to. When she’s assigned to be her new professor’s student assistant, it turns out to be the most notorious affair that’s ever hit Shakespeare University. At first glance, Professor Xavier Grayson is gorgeous, well educated, attentive and successful, causing Nailea’s seemingly prim and proper persona to take a complete one-eighty when she starts to have an illicit affair with her new lecturer. But when Professor Xavier Grayson grows more and more obsessively infatuated by Nailea, it proves to be a deliciously dangerous situation. Escaping Mr. Grayson is a psychological thriller that explores the fixation that a mentally ill psychopath has with his new student assistant. A story about danger, possession and obsession.
The Review: 4 stars!
“And when it comes to thrill, oh my dear sweet Nailea, I can be…insatiable.”
Escaping Mr. Grayson is a psychological thriller full of danger, obsession, and possession. Think 50 shades of Grey crossed with You.
There are many similar themes in this book as those I mentioned – however Lakish’a has managed to add a lot of darker undertones with her twisted character, Mr. Grayson.
Mental illness and the effects this has on people plays a huge roll in this story, and in a way that I haven’t really seen before. Lakish’a allows her characters to play out their dark fantasies, to give in to their core desires and just be bad. And I found myself full of anxious worry and guilty pleasure at the pure creepiness our MC comes across in the pages of the book.
I enjoyed the supporting characters too – the relationships between each of them was beautiful and raw.
Lakish’a wove a few amazing twists into the second half of her story, none of which I saw coming – the ending especially left me shaken and applauding the twisted creativity in the mind of our author.
What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book?
Mainly that as I’ve written, even before writing Escaping Mr. Grayson, I unconsciously put a little bit of my personality in each character that I create, or have created. It was so wild because I never realized it until very recently after I had just read my favorite chapter of the book (Chapter 18) and I had this lightbulb moment of like, “Oh my gosh…This is me”
Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Probably that our main protagonist Nailea has a sort of unhealthy, almost at the very edge of becoming obsessive, fixation towards her roommate Daisy. Nailea is the exact opposite of Daisy and, more than anything, she craves that feeling of liberation that just seems to come so easily to Daisy. It’s something that I really fought within myself over because I wanted so badly to incorporate it into the story as much as I could without really taking too much away from the main plot.
Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
I love all my characters the same. Haha. But yes, I have such a soft spot for Mr. Grayson himself because, I feel like he’s just so open to interpretation. As you’ll read in the book, he had an incredibly messed up childhood and although that doesn’t necessarily justify the things that he does, it does make you understand why he is the way that he is. I don’t know, I think also just as a person I’ve always been very intrigued by mental illness and the people that are affected by it so, being able to create my very own charming and complex psychopath is very special and almost intimate to me.
What was the inspiration for the story?
I remember reading a Wattpad novel, I don’t even remember the title, and there was a scene where this man had just come home from the hospital and he had been in a coma for a while so he went into his bathroom and washed his face and felt almost delirious. I’m not sure how my brain works haha, but, I was able to take that scene and create one of the first scenes in the book (in chapter 3) where my protagonist Nailea woke up the night after she slept with Mr. Grayson. So i don’t know, i guess things just sort of fell into pace after that. It’s kind of weird how it all worked out in the end.
What is the key theme and/or message in the book?
Just, the disgusting reality of human nature and how, you never really know the drastic and/or dangerous severity that might come from the little decisions that you make every single day. Although, I try not to have an exact and final meaning of any of my work purely because i like to leave that up to the reader. But, in my opinion. That was the message of the book.
What is the significance of the title?
To be completely honest, I suck at titles haha. The title doesn’t really have much of a significance. It was just the first thought that I had and it stuck.
What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel?
No. No sequels. I’ve never been a fan of writing sequels (I’m not completely opposed to the idea of them though). Like I said before, I enjoy the idea of havng my readers make up their own fantasy endings and meanings and interpretations. Sometimes i think when you don’t have an exact ending, it makes the story that much more memorable and you have a lot of fun theorising over what would have happened next. I’ve read so many book whose endings I was just so disappointed by and that’s the one thing i try to avoid in my own work. So, to answer the question, What is the future for the characters? Well, I’m happy to leave that to my readers’ imagination. It’s whatever you want it to be.
What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book? What was the highlight of writing this book?
Other than trying to find the time to actually sit down and write, It was a bit of a challenge trying to figure out the best way to end the story. I know these kinds of psychological thrillers are not exactly “original” and most of the endings to them are expected. I wanted to add a unique ending to my story and I really can only hope that I was able to do that in the end. As for the highlight, that would probably be; getting to be in the mind of a psychopath was a lot of fun. If anything it was alarmingly too much fun haha. I cant help it, I’m a sucker for anything dark and gory and unsettling. I get such a thrill from it so being able to create a psychopath as charismatic and sarcastic but still quite frightening as Mr. Xavier Grayson was definitely an experience I will never forget. I had so much fun writing this book!
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from everything around me really. Usually it’ll be from lyrics to a song or a movie i had just seen or a Tv show i just watched or a book i just read. The most unique way that i get inspired is through names. Sometimes I’ll hear a name that I really like and then create a character to go with that name. And then with that character, I later create a world for them and end up writing a pretty decent book.
Who is your favorite author, and why?
I have such a hard time picking any sort of favourite thing just purely because theres so much good crap in this world, you know? Haha. I don’t have a favorite author. Would it be narcissistic to say mhyself? Haha
What are you reading now?
I can never read just one book at a time haha. It wouldn’t be natural. I’m reading Pines by Blake Crouch, Falling into place by Amy Zhang and The Night She Died by Jenny BlackHurst
Favorite book/story you have read as an adult, and what was your favorite book when you were a kid?
My favorite book is American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. I’m always super hesitant to recommend it though just because it is painfully graphic and its a tough book to stomach (morally) but all in all I admire the realness of it and I just think it’s a very beautiful piece of literature when you read it from the point of view of an author as opposed to reading it from the point of view of a reader. As for my favourite book when I was a kid, my mama tells me it was The Three Little Pigs haha.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Nothing original really. I enjoy singing, lisyening to music, adding to my vision board, reading, catching up on Tv and above all else, dreaming big!
What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?
At the end of the day, we are all writing similar stories with similar plots and similar climaxes and similar endings so the only thing that’s really going to set your story apart is your authentic take on the story. To new writers I would advise you to stay true to your writing and your imagination and not compromise your stories to fit someone else’s opinion on what would sell or what make a good book. And also, if youre writng on a platform like wattpad where you can track your number of reads, DO NOT EQUATE THE QUALITY OF YOUR STORY TO THE NUMBER OF READS YOU RECEIVE. Just focus on getting better at your skill, stay consistent with your writing and do not forget to enjoy what you do because if you aren’t enjoying your writing, no ones gonna enjoy their reading.
How do you handle writer’s block?
I don’t haha. It’s importanat to be patient with yourself. Not just in your writing but also in life as a whole. I find that when I’m experiencing writers block it because i’m dealing with a lot of anxiety or even those moments when I get really depressed and detach from the world. My advice to anyone experiencing writers block woud be just to give it time, don’t stop trying and take a moment to just re-center yourself all while remembering that it is only temporary.
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
I think as long as your story has something memorable about it, something that once you read it you need to talk about it with someone else. Good writing makes you gasp or cry or laugh or even in my case go, “Oh my gosh! What the hell was that?!”
What comes first, the plot or characters? How do you develop your plot and characters?
You know, writing is such a natural thing to me that I never really have too much of a plan. Sometimes I’ll have a plot first, other times I’ll have a character first. There’s even moments where I’ll come up with the title first or just one random scene. Alternatively, sometimes I’ll come up with an ending first. It all just depends. As for development, I just figure it all out as I go (I wouldn’t recommend that for anyone else but it works just fine for me so..)
Describe a typical writing day.
It’s more of a writing moment. I typically would just write whenever it feels most natural or whenever I crave it most. I don’t have much of a schedule for it.
What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
Finding time!!! Also there’s always a moment during the process where I have a decision to make regarding what direction I want the story to take. It’s always difficult to try and decide the best way to go, especially since you never really know what your audience would most want to read.
How do you do research for your books?
Reading books in similar genres always saves my life! As for Escaping Mr. Grayson, I also did a lot of research on behavioral patterns of psychopaths’ and sociopaths (Though that was more just for curiosity and entertainments sake haha)
When you’re writing an emotionally draining scene, how do you get in the mood? How do you deal with emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?
Well firstly, it doesn’t take much effort to make myself sad lol. The hard part is dealing with the emotional aftermath. I’d never let people see it but I am an extremely emotional person. I’m fully incapable of feeling anything halfway so once I allow myself to feel emotional enough to write a draining scene, I have to be prepared to be stuck in that cocoon of emotion for a while. The book that I’m currently working on requires a lot of that and with every new chapter i try my best to learn to separate the reality of it from the fiction of it all.
How do you handle literary criticism?
I just try not to take it too personally. I adore constructive criticism (even though deep down it can piss me off sometimes haha). But at the same time, there’s pointless criticism as well from people that just didn’t enjoy my work and that’s fine too. Not everyone will enjoy what I write. I’m okay with that.
How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing?
So so much. There’s just so many endless possibilities when it comes to things as big as deciding a plot or even just picking a characters name. It’s sometimes tough to make those decisions but in the end I’m always quite pleased with the work, thank God.
Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?
My writing friends are so supportive and have a lot of positive comments on my work!
Where can readers find out more about you and your book, and are you on social media? Can your readers interact with you?
My readers can always catch up with me and my writing on my Instagram accounts under the usernames @_.satinsaturdai & @_.sibhongile._ or even reach out and read my other work on Wattpad under the username ‘satinsaturdai’ I hope that all my readers know they can feel free to contact me whenever they want to with absolutely anything from questions to criticism or even just if they need a friend!