We had the good fortune of connecting with Kiley Roache and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kiley, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I started writing when I was 11 or 12 years old. This might sound odd, but looking back, I started writing in part because of Taylor Swift. I remember hearing an interview in which she spoke about her creative process, and how she realized she loved writing sitting at a desk in math class, writing poetry instead of the assignment, and realized that if she arranged the words on the page just so, the words would sort of sing. That thrill, of writing and rewriting until you had something that leaped off the page, is to me the crux of craft and style. And when I first heard Taylor Swift describe it, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. As I remember it, in the same interview she said that one day she went to middle school and sat down at the lunch table, and everyone else at the table picked up their trays and left. She was upset, so she went home and wrote a song about it. As a seventh grader myself at the time I heard this story – experiencing the Real-Housewives-finale- level drama that is the average American middle school – this story resonated deeply. I realized writing could be a way to deal with the overwhelming emotions of adolescent life. I started writing my first “book” in the seventh grade, typing away on a chunky pink laptop about my middle school life. I’ve been writing since, falling deeper in love with storytelling and this craft. It might seem kind of strange that an interview with Taylor Swift I heard when I was 11 had such an impact on my career trajectory, but I think that to see a young woman building a career by turning her thoughts and feelings into art…it was very inspiring to me at a formative age. I continued to write all through high school, and published my first book while I was in college. One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve found from working in a creative field, was after my first book came out when I started to receive Instagram DM’s from young women who’d read my book and related to it. Especially, I think of notes that mentioned the way I wrote about feminism or the way I described dealing with anxiety and how these young women resonated with the work, and how it made them feel like they weren’t alone in their experiences. I love writing Young Adult because I know how important books, music, and art were to me at that age, and how my favorite writers, from Taylor Swift to Suzanne Collins to John Green, made me feel less alone in the world. I hope to be able to pay that forward in whatever way I can.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I am a writer. I’m a novelist and screenwriter, and previously I wrote nonfiction as a journalist. My most recent book is a young adult novel called Killer Content. It is a whodunit murder mystery set in a house of famous TikTokers. I’ve been fortunate to have teachers, agents, and editors who’ve believed in my work. But, just like probably everyone in a creative field can relate to, it has not always been easy. Rejection is part of the job, especially early on. The first book I published was not the first manuscript I’d written, and there were dozens of internship and fellowship applications I was ghosted by or rejected from. I’m not saying this to complain – I’m saying this to be transparent so that other writer’s reading this know that this career path is a rollercoaster, and experiencing the ups and downs mean you’re doing the right thing, not the wrong thing. I overcame these setbacks by keeping in mind some great advice from my teachers and mentors, namely that “no writing is wasted.” Not everything you draft will be published, but everything you write will help you develop your voice and craft and make you a better writer. I’ve struggled with anxiety, and the uncertainty of this career path has certainly been stressful at times. However, I try to keep my eyes on my own paper and remember what I can control – which is my own creative output.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’ve lived in L.A. for about six months now, and in that time I’ve fallen head over heels in love with the city. But I must preface this by saying I’m new here and certainly not yet an expert on the city, so this list is not exhaustive.
The number one place I’d take anyone visiting the area would be the beach – I usually go to the Venice / Ocean Park area. If it’s warm, maybe we’d play beach volleyball, or read a good book reclined on towels. But even if it’s chilly, putting on a sweatshirt and going to the beach to watch the bright orange winter sunset over the ocean is one of my favorite things to do. Along those lines, a sunny drive along the coast with the windows down and “Golden” by Harry Styles blasting through the speakers would definitely be on my tour of LA.
I’m addicted to coffee, so I’d definitely want to hit Alfred’s and Philz. For food, I’d love to show them Madre in Palms for great food and mezcal margaritas, Sugarfish for Sushi, Gjusta for brunch, and a beer and burger at Duke’s in Malibu. And at some point of course we’d have to see live music, and Winston House and Venice West are some of my favorite spots for that.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
This Shoutout is dedicated to the teachers who encouraged my writing, teaching me the skills I need to do this work and inspiring me to have the courage to try. I’d especially like to shoutout: Jessica Radogno, Amelia Garcia, Lori Wasielewski, Mary Kate O’Mara, Janine Zacharia, Phil Taubman, Joanne Fayron, and Adam Tobin.
I owe so much to these teachers and professors, who taught classes ranging from from high school sophomore English to screenwriting coursework at Stanford and journalism classes at Columbia grad school. These teachers taught me about grammar rules and Three Act Structure. But they also taught me about believing in my voice, working toward my goals, and navigating the ups and downs of creative work. They deserve endless thanks and recognition.