An Interview with Hayley Barrett
By: Michelle Lynn
Hi Hayley, welcome to YAAR. First things first, can you tell me about your books.
My first novel is called Into Darkness and it’s a dystopia set in New Zealand about a privileged girl who is convicted of a crime she didn’t commit by her father. I’ve also written a novella which includes some of the same characters but happens before Into Darkness, and that book is called In the Cool Light of Dawn. In September, the sequel will be released and it’s called A Silhouette in the Night.
So, at first glance your book seems to be just a dystopian, but there’s a bit of the paranormal thrown in. Can you tells us about that?
It is primarily dystopian, but there are also a race of people whose ancestors were experimented on many years ago and genetically modified. The result is that these people, Drifters, are faster and stronger than humans and they require human blood to survive. However, a few drops of Drifter blood can fix any human illness or disease meaning that humans and Drifters are constantly at war with each other.
How did you come up with the world you’ve created?
I’m not really sure. I had a basic idea of the story I wanted to write and the world just sort of formed around the story.
You’ve created so many great characters that move the story forward. Who’s your favorite?
Emily Jane. She doesn’t appear much in Into Darkness, but she is the main character in Cool Light and is a supporting character in Silhouette. Her back story keeps revealing itself each time I write about her, and I really enjoy finding out what she’s gone through in the past.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
There is a part near the end of Into Darkness where readers often tell me they hate me (I can’t say more without giving the plot away). I loved writing that because it upset me to write it. It comes unexpectedly and with any luck, it makes readers feel something that they weren’t expecting to feel.
Were there alternate endings that you considered?
Nope, not for Into Darkness. Cool Light originally finished where Emily Jane first meets Alex and Will in Into Darkness but I’d glossed over what are now the last chapters of the novella. A beta reader suggested I try a different ending and I like it so much better than what I’d originally written.
Are there any other authors that have inspired you to write?
When I read Sara Donati’s Into the Wilderness, I’d never read a book that I was so invested in and I decided that I wanted to write a book like that. It took about twelve more years before I actually sat down and started to write, but it really was that book that did it.
What age were you when you started writing?
My school reports right back to when I was about eight years old all say I had a flair for writing. In high school, I won the school writing competition twice without (I hate to say it) really trying. But once I left high school, I didn’t write anything for about eighteen years.
Writer’s block – an author’s worst nightmare. Ever experience it?
Yes, although I don’t often find I can’t write anything. For me, it’s more that I find myself writing the wrong thing. When that happens, my writing doesn’t flow and I need to scrap it and start again. Usually it means I have to do something entirely different with the scene to make it work.
Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I’m not an outliner. I often wish I was, but plot twists often come to me as I’m writing and if I’d written an outline, it would have to go out the window at that point.
Do you ever get sad when you realize that the characters that you’ve created aren’t real?
Hehe. Not so far!
Here’s a couple just for fun – If you were a super hero, what would your name be? What costume would you wear?
I don’t know! Maybe Super Mom. I’m not sure what my costume would be, but I’d definitely need a decent vehicle so I could run my kids to all their afterschool activities (hmmmm, that sounds suspiciously like real life!)
If you could have any accent from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?
I was going to say Irish because I just love the way it sounds. But I also have a thing for Diana Gabaldon’s character Jamie Fraser, so I’m going to go with Scottish!
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I actually didn’t have too many challenges. Double Dragon Publishing was recommended to me by another author and they were one of the first publishers I submitted to.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I don’t think I’d change anything!
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
I’m currently working on something completely different. It is another young adult novel but this one is historical with a hint of paranormal. It’s been a lot more challenging to write, but I’m pretty happy with how it’s turning out.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I find it really hard to read critical reviews where some of the things the reviewer has a problem with are actually answered in the novel – if only they’d bothered to read it properly! The best compliment was hearing about an eleven-year-old who likes my books who had a “To Do” list beside her bed. One of the points on her list was “read more of Hayley Barrett’s books.”
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Keep writing. Everyone says it, but it’s true. It’s easy to come up with a reason to stop writing such as, “I can’t work out why this character does this and I can’t go on until I figure it out.” Something like that is just an excuse. Even if you can’t make it work, move on. Write the book. Then go back and fix the difficult part in editing. Oh, and that’s another thing for aspiring authors. Make sure you edit your work!
Do you have any strange writing habits?
Not really. I can’t write on an empty stomach though, so I’m least productive right before a meal.
Thanks for joining us Hayley and to all of YAAR’s readers out there – I hope you’ve found another fantastic Young Adult author to follow!
Praise for Hayley Barrett:
“I was hooked at the beginning. I thought it was such an original and unique way to introduce us to the characters, which have amazing personalities, portraying the real complex of human nature.”
“The story is fast paced, there is lots of action, intrigue, romance and adventure, and I was constantly surprised by all the plot twists, especially the shocking turn of events near the end of the book.”