Karla Levy is a writer and editorial coordinator for IN Media Group and their two magazines, Hotelero and In Riviera Maya. When she applied for that job in March 2016, she did not know what the job entailed, only that she wanted a job where she could spend all her days writing. The company invited her for a job interview. Excited, she sat on the bus googling the duties and tasks of an editorial coordinator. The more she read, the more surprised and excited she felt and happy thoughts filled her mind, “Wow, I am the perfect person for the job. I know how to do all this!”
This is Karla’s Story
Her writing dreams started at the age of 12, at the time Karla attended an extracurricular oratory course at school. Students had to write around 150 words about a different theme. Then, they had to memorise and declaim it. Karla noticed how much she enjoyed writing and how much others enjoyed listening to her words. Naturally, she finished the course with honours and started religiously writing letters to her friends, especially at Christmas.
The first lover, Psychology
Although Karla was a bright student at school, at home she was a rebel. She did whatever she wanted to do including ignoring her mum. At the age of 14, her mother threw the towel and reached out for help. A year of therapy with a psychologist healed their relationship and inspired young Karla. She left writing aside and decided she wanted to help people to better themselves; she wanted to be a psychologist.
It looked like it was meant to be until her father lost his job. At the time, 21-year-old Karla was studying Psychology at Ibero, an expensive university in Mexico City. Karla had to make a choice: go to a cheaper university or go to a public university in Spain where she had to pay €1000 of fees throughout the year, instead of €1000 for a registration fee in Mexico.
Her Spanish Partying love affair
Not knowing anyone in Spain, at the age of 22, she travelled to Salamanca. To pay her bills and her studies, she worked as a waitress. Since writing was still her passion, she made sure she wrote her usual Christmas email. Those were her only written words in the six years Karla lived in Spain. Life abroad was very intense; everything was the first. Karla noticed how much money she could make working in an after-hours bar and the how much fun it was to bring everyone back to her home after work. Quickly her parties became known throughout the city.
In 2007, Karla felt fed up with her life. She had finished her degree, and was having fun working at the bar. The problem was that getting people drunk was not how she dreamt that she would help people. Penniless, Karla decided to start again.
The return home and the lovers who supported her writing passion
A friend pointed out there were many job opportunities in Cancun. Just what she needed, to return home with a Spanish degree. Through Couchsurfing, she found a place to stay and got a job selling tours while she dreamt of opening a psychology office. But, all her money went towards supporting herself.
“I was not a writer until my readers made me a writer.”
Three years later, Karla started a blog and won a Gandhi writing contest – one of her stories was published in a book. In 2011, Sal, a magazine about Cancun opened her first doors in the writing world. Karla started writing simple things like what to do and where to go. Two newspapers, the Universal Veracruz and Universal San Antonio also opened their doors to her.
It was not enough to support herself and not the type of writing she dreamt of, but at least she was writing again. Shortly after, a couple of friends started In the Mood Veracruz and gave her the opportunity of writing a column, “Happy Mood”: a column about happiness. More income was needed to support herself, so she taught English at a Berlitz Cancun and also worked in an administrative office at a different school.
The last adventure before settling down
Karla fell in love and at the age of 31, her boyfriend started talking about settling down and buying a house; she felt stuck. It got worse when she thought she was pregnant. Karla never considered having children, but something strange happened. When the pregnancy test confirmed she was not expecting a child, she felt sad. Her biological clock was ticking. Karla said to her boyfriend, “I am going to Moscow!”
Karla arrived in Moscow with €20. She headed to the Diamond Way Buddhist Centre and instead of a small meditation centre with 20 members like the one she had been meditating since 2008 in Cancun, she found a huge meditation centre with over 1000 members. At the end of the meditation, she stood up embarrassed and said, “Hello friends, I do not speak Russian. I just arrived from Mexico and need a place to live.”
Her initial plan was to stay in Russia for three months, do the Trans-Siberian with Lama Ole and return. But she fell in love with Russia, with the Russians, and found out she could earn up to €100 per class teaching English. Karla only had to work a few hours per day and had time to meditate, to travel, chasing Lama throughout Europe and write her novels.
A “new” idea leading to an old dream
At the age of 33, Karla had a millionaire idea: to create a platform where she could write live, like a soap opera on tv! She researched and found out her dream platform already existed, Wattpad. Way better than what she had imagined.
As her classes started early and finished late in different parts of Moscow, Karla spent hours in the giant subway system and started reading all the time. The writer Joe Watson was the inspiration she needed. Karla uploaded the story she had written for the Gandhi contest, but nothing happened. Carefree and inspired, her reading time turned into writing time. She started writing “Siete Meses” – a novel 80% based on the time she lived in Salamanca.
It was so easy to recreate that world, to turn the real people who helped her willingly or not, into characters. While researching memories, Karla found an email from one of the characters saying “I hope one day I bump into your book.” Her mother said, “Reading your words, it’s like hearing you speaking on the phone.” And readers? Well, they loved it, gave her feedback and sent her messages asking about the new chapters if she missed one. It was very intense.
Karla’s happy ever after
In 2014, Wattpad announced the annual Wattys contest. Karla left her story as, “It will continue,” and pushed on to finish the book. Her story was the best chick lit that year. Comments carried on, but this time with a much bigger depth, “Thanks to your book, my life has changed.”
Exctatic, Karla felt like her mission in life was accomplished, she could leave this planet happy. But first, she would start writing the second part of the book. The more she wrote the more something strange happened. She was not writing it anymore; the new book was using her as a tool to bring it to life. In 2015, it was the most read at the Wattpad headquarters.
“I lived through hunger and cold. And now, I feel this is the beginning of a new stage.”
Terrified to death, Karla decided it was time to be brave and face the critics. She contacted several editors, and a month later Nova Casa Editorial said, “We will publish it.” A year later, on the 15th of October 2015 – the day this interview took place – and over 20 years after her first writing dreams, Karla’s first book was published.
Today, when Karla looks back, she feels that her biggest challenge was herself, believing that she could not live from of writing; that she had to do something else for a living. It was Karla who stopped herself from being with her true love, writing. The same writer and editor who today says,…
“Do not complain you have lots of writing work, this is what you asked for.”