All our lives we have been told to look up to our elders and follow the example of those wiser and more experienced than ourselves. However, there is a huge lesson to be learned from this young, bright and determined Elizabethtown College student, 19-year-old Cayla Kluver.
A Wisconsin native and resident her entire life, Kluver lives in Eau Claire with her parents, older sister Cara, younger sister Kendra and extremely spoiled cat, Nina. She graduated high school when she was just 15, and soon after became a published young adult author. The novels of Kluver’s trilogy, “Legacy,” “Allegiance” and “Sacrifice” are currently being sold in over 16 countries.
According to her mother, Kluver found her passion for writing early in life. “I dictated my first book when I was two,” Kluver said. “It was about a bunny. She tells everyone about this, even though I don’t remember it at all.”
When Kluver was growing up, she didn’t spend much time reading. She used her free time to write and express her creative side, rather than sit down with a book in hand. This strategy worked out well for her as she produced her first book, “Legacy,” at age 15.
Kluver’s mom began her own publishing company in hopes of getting “Legacy” on the shelves and attracting a large audience. Kluver worked with a local printing company to produce 3,000 copies of the novel. She submitted it to several reviewers and award programs and received a large amount of positive feedback. Her mother’s publishing company released “Legacy” on April 15, 2008.
Kluver’s dream of gaining national recognition from a larger publishing company came true when she was contacted by Amazon.com. She then worked with AmazonEncore, the company’s publishing arm, to produce “Legacy” in hardcover. This version of “Legacy” went to shelves on Aug. 18, 2009. “I had a great time with AmazonEncore and got to meet some amazing people, but ultimately we parted ways,” Kluver said.
Currently, Kevan Lyon of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency represents Kluver. HarlequinTEEN, a world-leading publishing company of books for women, produced an edited paperback version of “Legacy” this past June. An edited version of “Allegiance” will also be produced this winter in paperback.
While it may seem as though Kluver has had smooth sailing throughout the writing, editing and publishing process, no great accomplishment comes without its fair share of trials and tribulations. “There is a common misconception that young authors have it easy, but it’s not true,” Kluver said. “I can’t tell you the number of nasty emails and feedback I’ve gotten because I’m too young.”
Through all of the rejection letters from publishers and criticism from readers due to her age, Kluver has persevered and risen above the negative criticisms. “Writing defines me; it’s who I am,” Kluver said. “I’m an artist through and through.” She explained that she often comes across people who resent her for what she has accomplished. “I’m almost put in the position of apologizing for what I’ve done,” Kluver said. “But it wasn’t handed to me on a silver platter; I worked really hard.”
Here at the College, Kluver is a sociology and anthropology major with a concentration in criminal justice. She is minoring in psychology as well. Now, one might wonder why someone with such great talent and passion for writing would not major in professional or creative writing. Kluver decided to follow the recommendation of her mother’s friend to steer away from this direction; Kluver has already established her own writing style and would be put in the position of learning how to write all over again.
After being out of school for three years, Kluver decided it was time to go back and focus on getting an education. “I was interested in east coast schools because I hadn’t spent a lot of time out here,” she said. Originally, Kluver was looking at schools in New York City. Soon after, she realized she wanted a historical environment in which to go to school. After visiting Etown for accepted students’ day, Kluver knew this was the place for her. “Everyone was so nice,” she said. “The campus was pretty and the peer mentors’ enthusiasm for the College really made me want to come here.”
While at Etown, Kluver is continuing her passion for writing. She is currently working on her fourth book, which is on proposal to her editor. So why then would someone who has a fabulous career already set in stone return to school? “I came to college because I thought I was intellectually flat lining,” she said. “I felt like I wasn’t having any new experiences.”
Even though Kluver is enjoying her time at the College thus far, the ability to sit down, write and be inside her own head is what gives her the strength and mentality to keep going each day. “I love being inside my own head because I’ll never understand it,” Kluver said. “None of it makes sense up there. But I want to understand how my brain works and what makes me, me.” Kluver remarked that the only way for her to do that is to write. “I love that feeling when you just disappear,” she said.
Kluver’s advice to other young writers aspiring to publish a novel is to keep writing and not worry about publishing until you have written something you really like. “Don’t start a project with the mentality that you want to publish,” she said. “Write because you love it.”
Kluver also remarked that “Publishing is really hard and really competitive, so don’t get discouraged. If you have faith in what you’ve written, keep going. You’re not a real writer until you’ve gotten your first rejection letter.”