A journalist, an activist and now an author, Kaya Gravitter’s debut novel, After She Said Yes, hit the bookshelves last month. 

Kaya Gravitter is a passionate, curious soul, and a self-described hopeless romantic. Her first foray – a defining moment – into the writing world took place within the confines of her fifth-grade classroom during recess. 

“I don’t know what clicked,” she said in an exclusive interview with The Tempest. 

“But one day, instead of going out for recess, I wrote a story I liked so much that I wrote up its screenplay. It then ended up being acted out for the middle school.”

And after years of writing in a myriad of ways, across multiple platforms and journaling her way through pre-teen, teen, and then young adulthood, Kaya now has her first published novel in her hands.

After She Said Yes follows the tale of Aurora Tousey as she navigates the stresses and pressures of leaving a trying, abusive marriage, and potentially having to choose between a successful career or a chance at love once more. 

“A woman’s growth through challenges,” is how the Wisconsin-born author described it.

The book touches upon multiple trials and tribulations comprising abuse, PTSD as well as eating disorders, and holds the promising look of an emotional, touching read. It covers the topics of divorce, abuse, anxiety, and interracial relationships. 

“It does so for a few reasons, partly because I have seen and/or experienced this firsthand,” explained Kaya, adding: “But my love for writing and my life experiences also led me to write this novel for the women speaking out against their abusers and for the women who still haven’t. I was also inspired by the #MeToo movement.”

And though the novel is fiction, Kaya cites that her hopes lie in it inspiring and being a source of not only comfort but strength as well, for any person who’s experienced or is experiencing similar trials.

“I want women to see that there is a light at the end of the sometimes very dark tunnel. In the novel, you will learn about an organization called the Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS for short), which is based in Madison, Wisconsin,” said Kaya.

“I volunteered there a few years ago among other women’s shelters. After She Said Yes is written for all of those women I spent time with and tried to help from when I started volunteering at fourteen years old.”

The book draws some parallels between Aurora, the main character, and Kaya’s life as well through the mental health struggles that Aurora combats with.

”I have anxiety and depression,” explained Kaya. “It is something I am not the most open about but I have been suffering with it since I was 10, and that is why I started journaling but I did not know I had anxiety or depression. I just kept praying to God to help me.”

[Image description: Author holds the book up to the camera.] Property of the author.
[Image description: Author holds the book up to the camera.] Property of the author.
Kaya’s own experiences have shaped her to be a caring person, dedicated to “speaking up for the voiceless.” She pursued a double major in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Wisconsin, and then went on to pen a number of hard-hitting op-eds for Yahoo! News and The Huffington Post, to name two outlets. Through her words and activism, she hopes to help create a more inclusive world.

And if you’re interested in breaking into the writing industry yourself, Kaya has her own tidbits to share now.

“Be persistent! Be prepared to be rejected but rejection makes the reward so much better. I recommend that you don’t give up on your dreams of writing, even if you feel your work is not perfect. Nothing is perfect. 

“Also, writers do not make much money, so don’t quit your day job if you get a $10,000 advance for your book. You should always prepare for the worst but expect the best,” said the author of After She Said Yes who’s already working on her next novel while prepping for a Masters degree in either creative writing or psychology.

In the meantime, though, you should absolutely get your hands on After She Said Yes and try your luck at winning a free copy in our giveaway! It’s a novel that reaches far further than it’s possible to explain. 

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Sana Panjwani

By Sana Panjwani

Senior Now+ BEYOND Editor // Assistant Pop Culture Editor