Gabriella Meghan’s debut novel tells the story of Layla Crimson, a millennial who moves to a small lesbian community in Chattanooga to discover herself and come to terms with her true identity.
Once there, Layla quickly becomes the town’s “It Girl”, experiencing love and lust as she weaves her way in and out of relationships with an assortment of young women. But just as she is thriving in her newfound freedom, a string of mysterious suicides among her inner circle of friends threatens to lead Layla toward a twisted journey of undeniable fate.
It’s a spellbinding tale of romance and murder, set in a world not often explored in today’s literature.
What was your original inspiration for the novel?
Gabriella Meghan: My original inspiration was the struggles I was going through at the time of my life when I first came out. I was involved in several toxic relationships and friendships, and writing was my outlet to it all.
Are the characters and situations based on your real life?
Gabriella Meghan: The characters and situations are strongly based off of my experiences, but with a twist.
Did you fall into the sex and drugs nightlife scene?
Gabriella Meghan: I did. Looking back on that time in my life seems like a sick scene in a movie. The nightlife quickly consumes you, and it is easy to lose touch with who you are and who you want to be. I lost touch with reality.
Its hard to find a likable character in “As Told By Us”. Even Layla, who we want to like, is flawed in ways that make her hard to sympathize with. Was that a conscious decision on your part—to write a story without a clear heroine?
Gabriella Meghan: Yes. I don’t think life provides us with heroes or heroines, we have to become the hero/heroine for ourselves. Nobody is going to swoop in on a white horse and save us. Layla is relatable to many young adults. She learns by making mistakes, and that is what makes her easy to connect with. Life doesn’t always have a happy ending, but we are given free will to create our endings, good or bad. I want readers to understand that nobody is perfect, and that is OK. We are all beautifully flawed like Layla.
That was my next question. The book seems to imply the young gay millennials may be irredeemable.
Gabriella Meghan: We are flawed, but certainly not irredeemable! Being young and naive, it is so easy to get lost in the whirlwind of finding where you belong that you lose track of your goals, dreams and ambitions. It is even more difficult for young gay adults because we still live in a relatively heteronormative society. I think one major thing that the young LGBTQ people need to consider is that we ultimately control our own happiness and our own fate. We have so much more power than we are led to believe. If you are in a situation that isn’t ideal, step outside of your comfort zone, take control and make life what you want it to be. You have the power.
I don’t want to spoil the ending, but what do you think is next for Layla?
Gabriella Meghan: I think that there is a silver lining in the distance for Layla. I can’t quite disclose what that is, but she is about to see the sun rise in ways she hasn’t before. Her love, her experiences, and her maturity will flourish. She will, in a sense, transform, like most young adults do.
Are you working on a sequel?
Gabriella Meghan: No. I have started three other books, two fiction and one poetry, and hope to release one within the next year. I also plan to start traveling and speaking out against domestic violence in LGBTQ relationships. I feel like it’s an issue that not many people talk about or take seriously. I want to shed light on the fact that it is happening, and that it is important.
Follow Gabriella on Twitter @GabriellaMeghan, Facebook.com/GabriellaMeghanModel, and Instagram @GabriellaMeghan.