Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn in Kim Liggett's breakout novel, Blood and Salt. The story follows Ash Larkin on her journey to discover her eerie family past. Ash's life is plagued with memories of her ancestors and can be summed up in one word: weird. Long story short, Ash sees things one typically would not, like the dead girl hanging above her head. After her mother disappears, Ash and her twin brother find themselves in Quivera, Kansas. Among sinister pasts and abandoned villages, the plot balances romance, horror and self-discovery in a whirlwind. If you haven't read this book yet, you now have plans for the weekend. You're welcome. (Not to give anything away, the ending is shocking, so please, sit down while reading it, and don't worry, there is a sequel coming out.)
The woman who wrote this twisted plot didn't always know she was going to be an author. Being dyslexic, Kim wasn't sure if writing was in her cards. However, after writing a few chapters dedicated to her daughter plagued with heartbreak, Kim became obsessed with the story and knew she had to continue. "I learned how to write to tell this story," Kim said. "I wanted to create a book for reluctant readers." And she succeeded. The threads of beautiful imagery and language are well-balanced with attention-grabbing plot details that will seem appetizing to any type of reader.
Writing this book was founded as a letter to her daughter about dealing with heartbreak and while it is unfortunate, it's something everyone deals with and eventually overcomes (with tissues, chocolate and sweatpants!). "We all fall in love like idiots, and I wanted to show her that there is life after the heartache," she said. Printed on the cover of the book is, "It's good to be afraid. It means you still have something to live for." Heartbreak can definitely be woven into this statement, but so can other fears. That's the main premise of the book. Whether it's something mundane as heartbreak or something as crazy as an immortal cult, being afraid isn't necessarily a bad thing. Kim's aim was to make it relevant to pop culture while still upholding a richness of the English language. Personally, I think she did this well.
Even just in the characters, no reader will be bored or offended by the lack of the depth or overcomplexity of them. Being a twin, I enjoyed the dynamic between the two main characters being played out. It was real and reflective, while incorporating this wicked, immortal side. More specifically on this wicked side, the main villian is Katia. She's the character the reader hates. Haunting, selfish and, for the lack of better words, creepy. The author, on the other hand, loved her. "Everyone sees [Katia] as a villain, but she was just twisted with heartache. Her way of thinking is so black and white and so do or die," Kim said. "I would love to write a book on just how she came to be immortal."
As we already mentioned, Kim did let on that a sequel to Blood and Salt will be coming out soon (you will be thanking her once you find herself at the end of the book), but she also explained she is working on many projects that will delve into the horror genre a little bit more.
Kim's story is inspiring as it really proves that anyone can be a writer, at any stage in life with any background. Not every writer has had that intuition since the beginning of time; sometimes they need a little push. Whether you're looking for a weekend read or a swift kick in the butt to start your writing career, Kim Liggett can provide both.