12:00 pm EST, February 19, 2014

Cover reveal: ‘Lailah,’ plus an interview with author Nikki Kelly

Hypable has an exclusive look at the gripping cover art for Lailah by Nikki Kelly, the story of one girl’s search for her identity in a supernatural world.

Though the first book in The Styclar Saga is a story of memory and identity, Lailah by Nikki Kelly already has an intriguing history. Initially released last year on Wattpad, Lailah proved hugely successful, rapidly attracting the attention of almost two million readers.

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Now Lailah will be published professionally by Feiwel and Friends later this year, with bonus content not seen in the initial Wattpad edition. The brand-new cover art for the print edition is revealed exclusively below!

Lailah by Nikki Kelly cover reveal


The girl knows she’s different. She doesn’t age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams – a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel.

On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve even darker forces. Jonah and the few like him, are fighting with help from an unlikely ally – a rogue Angel, named Gabriel.

In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom?

Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is.

Interview with Nikki Kelly

Nikki Kelly, Lailah

Tell us five random facts about yourself.

1. I drink more than 10 cups of tea in any given day! But I am British, so I highly doubt there’s anything random or unusual about this fact!

2. I consider myself a Twi-hard, a Darkling Darling and a Whovian – I wear my badges with pride. Allons-y!

3. When I’m asked if I speak French, I answer “yes” – though I learned the language from the ‘School of Joey Tribbiani’ and my response to everything is “Bleu de la bleu, de la blu bla bleu.” Don’t judge, you’d be surprised how well this got me by when I was in France doing research for the book!

4. Before I can write any high-energy battle scenes, I have to put on my headphones and listen to “Eye Of The Tiger” and “No Easy Way Out” from the Rocky soundtrack on a loop; only after this do I feel ‘equipped’!

5. When I was very little, my Nana told me to “eat my crusts” on my toast “and I would have curly hair.” I always wanted straight hair, so to this very day I avoid crusts on everything!

What is your favorite element of the cover for Lailah?

I love everything about the cover! The colours and tones give a real sense of atmosphere and depict the mood of the story just perfectly. But, if I had to pick just one element, it would be Lailah herself at the centre of the cover. The story is, after all, focused on her journey – finding out who she once was, who she is now and ultimately making decisions that will carve out who she will become. I also really love the outfit styling; the vintage laced top over a vest and jeans is just perfect for her, and the model is exactly how I envisioned Lailah when I was writing the story.

Why did you feel you had to tell Lailah’s story?

I first met Lailah in a dream I had. (Granted, I had watched Twilight and True Blood more times than I care to admit that week!) It was a short scene in which I saw her assisting an injured vampire in a derelict shell of a building. She seemed caught in the shadows – I couldn’t see her face. Suddenly she turned around and all I saw were these crystal-blue eyes staring back at me. They then flipped into a fierce red and I woke up, quite startled.

I thought of the girl for days after, wondering what she was. And then I realised there was a far more important question that needed answering: it was who she was. At which point, I decided to find out by telling her story. I had to; she wouldn’t have left me alone otherwise!

I began with that very scene and initially worked from there. And while Lailah’s story is the pivotal point, there’s always something greater going on, beyond ourselves; so then came the world-building – the bigger picture – and her place and purpose within those worlds.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you sat down to write Lailah?

To be honest, the one thing I wish I knew would probably be the one thing I wish I had read before sitting down to pen Lailah. Lailah is my first novel, and having never studied English past secondary school (just a girl with a dream!), I bought my fair share of “How To” books. The only one I ever needed to pick up was How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James N Frey. It’s a to-the-point, no-nonsense guide to dramatic story-telling. It really helped me understand what parts of the story to show, and how to be able to prove my premise in a dramatic fashion. The man’s a legend!

Which is easier to write: The first line, or the last line?

So far, the last line! The first line is so, so, so important and equally tricky as hell. Personally, I think it has to be and do lots of things all at once: it has to be punchy and well-constructed; it has to tell the reader what to expect from the book; and personally, I like it to hold a subtle hidden meaning or a contradiction in terms that makes you revisit it three lines later and go, “Hey, hang on…” I rewrote the opening lines of Lailah’s prologue and first chapter more times than I can remember, but the end line has never changed.

That said, ask me again at the end of the third book and you might well get a different answer! I am not looking forward to writing that line!!

What are you working on now?

Right now I am busy penning Book Two in the Saga! I have also been focusing my time these last few months on the editing process, getting Lailah ready for publication day, which involves far more detailed work and focus compared with the process I adopt when zooming through a very messy first draft! I love the creative writing process, and it’s brilliant to be back in Lailah’s world again; I felt bad leaving her hanging – quite literally!

You’ll notice that all the chapters in the book feature a relatively climactic moment and the ending is a series of twists, turns and revelations, culminating in the ultimate “dum dum dum” cliffhanger ending! I promise, it’s a doozy!

For more information…

Follow Nikki on Twitter and check out her website at TheStyclarSaga.com.

Lailiah: Book One in the Styclar Saga will be available on Oct. 7 of this year.

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