Featured Author: Kayla Rutledge

AE: What have your experiences been with creative writing?

KR: Before I came to Carolina, I did a lot of angsty poetry writing and I applied to the Thomas Wolfe scholarship, which I did not get unfortunately. My first semester here I took a creative writing class which got me solidified to take the minor, which got me more serious about writing. I am definitely trying to get into the habit of writing almost every day. It’s super hard because I am someone who writes once a week for 11 hours. It’s definitely something I want to keep doing consistently though.


AE: What inspired you to write your story?

Author of the story, “Grown”

KR: So, I actually wrote the story while at Smith Mountain Lake up in Virginia with one of my housemates. Everyone In the story is super sleepy which was actually kind of our experience. Everyone slept all weekend long. We would sleep all night, wake up in the morning, take a nap, and we had a lot of jokes about it. When I was writing the story, I don’t usually write flash fiction so it was kind of difficult for me. I was having a lot of trouble with the ending. I didn’t really know what the story was about. Really randomly I was reading the story of Adam and Eve, and I really wanted to tell this story of the fall, and I think that’s really similar to growing up. As a kid, you’re really safe and protected, but when you become a teenager you want to stop becoming that, like Adam and Eve. When you do something you can’t take back and then it feels really different than you had intended — it’s really sad, because you want to take something back that you can’t take back. Then all of a sudden you do something you can’t take back, and I found that really striking. That’s why I had the theme of the parent — this mom isn’t really doing anything, she just wants to be the main character’s mom, kind of like in the same way that God provides for Adam and Eve. I think the emotion I wanted to get across here is that feeling of when you kind of realize you’ve grown up, and it’s worse than you thought it would be, or scarier, and that feeling of wanting to go back to being a kid.


AE: How does your personal background influence the story?

KR: I definitely think the goal of my writing is for people to better understand each other emotionally. When I was a kid I had really severe obsessive compulsive disorder, and to me a lot of the times I felt that my brain was very different than other people’s, and I wanted to explain it and understand it. And, wanting to understand feelings and emotions has been a really big theme in my work. And then I think also, I do think it’s funny this story was written in a similar vein of Adam and Eve because I definitely am very spiritual, and I think that really influences a lot of my work. Not in super overt ways but in that we’re all looking for redemption and to be loved, and I do believe God loves everyone and that is a big part of my work. I would never write anything postmodern where everything is meaningless.


AE: What are your future career interests?

KR: I really hope I get into an MFA program because I would love to write books or be a creative writing professor, which you have to write a book to do, so it’s not mutually exclusive. If I don’t get into an MFA program, I’m hoping to do basic communications for a nonprofit or church — something I care about.


AE: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

KR: I’m such a homebody! Honestly, I’d probably go to my grandparent’s house. They live near Mackinac Island in Michigan and we would visit the island sometimes. Basically it’s just an isolated island, but it’s really famous for making fudge, and there are no cars there.

Kayla Rutledge is a senior in Strategic Communications (Hussman School) with a Creative Writing minor. She’s from Charlotte and was this year’s first place winner in the Mini Max competition. (Read her winning story here.) She has also won the George B. Wynn award for creative writing at UNC and the James Hearst award from NC State. She has pieces published and forthcoming in Cellar Door and the Well.