You all remember Heather Hayden, whom I interviewed way back in October. Click here to read Heather’s previous interview! (opens in a new tab) Today I’m hosting Heather for another interview! This time she has a very special announcement for us!
Though a part-time editor by day, Heather Hayden’s not-so-secret identity is that of a writer—at night she pours heart and soul into science fiction and fantasy novels. In March 2015 she published her first novella, Augment, a YA science fiction story filled with excitement, danger, and the strength of friendship. She immediately began work on its sequel, Upgrade, which continues the adventures of Viki, a girl who loves to run, and her friend Halle, an AI. You can learn more about Heather and her stories through her blog and her Twitter, both of which consist of equal amounts of writerly things and random stuff she’s interested in.
C: Welcome back to my blog, Heather! Let’s get right down to it, what’s your announcement for us today?
H: Thanks for having me, Corinne! I’m here to announce my writer’s group’s fairy tale anthology, From the Stories of Old. We’ve been working hard on it for the past five months or so, and are very excited to release it on December 7th. (That’s today!)
In this international collection, new life is given to fairy tales, both classic and obscure.
Mythical creatures put the fairy in Fairy Tale. Mermaids, selkies, and ocean guardians experience the best and worst of humanity; sisters encounter an unusually friendly bear; a brave bride meets a silly goose; and a spinner of gold sets the record straight.
Urban fantasies modernize classics: a Frenchman learns the truth about magic, his past, and his girlfriend; a girl sets out to find love but receives a curse; and today’s naughty list makes Old Saint Nick not-so-jolly.
New worlds bring a fresh sense of wonder! In the future, a young woman fights for her people and herself; a bastard son finds acceptance in a world ruled by women; and a farmer’s wits win the heart of a frosty king.
Discover unexpected twists on old favorites, and fall in love with new tales and worlds to explore!
C: Wow, that’s so exciting! I’m very excited to collaborate with you on this project. You own the publishing company, Rowanwood Publishing, LLC, is that right?
H: That’s correct! My sister Heidi and I started it about a year and a half ago, when I published Augment. I did a lot of research on micropublishing (actually did a residency on it as I was still in college at the time), and we determined that a partnership would be the best way to go about creating a name under which to publish our stories.
Rowanwood’s motto is “Two Sisters, Many Stories, One Dream.” This is quoted straight from the website: We want to share the products of our imaginations with the world, and we want to have complete control over the process through which our stories are released.
Heidi designed the logo, I took care of the paperwork, and our wonderful mother helped us sort out the taxes last year. This year, I’ll be learning how to do taxes on my own.
Rowanwood will be releasing From The Stories of Old, as the ISBNs I’m donating to the anthology are in Rowanwood’s name. However, we’ve sorted out the contract and all proceeds from the anthology’s sale will be going to the authors, the illustrator, and toward future anthologies. Our website is located at http://rowanwoodpublishing.com/ if you’re interested in learning more.
C: And I’ve also heard that your sister, Heidi Hayden, is doing the illustrations for the book, as well? How long has your sister been into art?
H: Yes, she is! She’s loved art since she was a kid. Now she’s a senior at the Maine College of Art, majoring in illustration. She plans to write and illustrate children’s books when she graduates.
When she heard my writer’s group was putting together an anthology, she was very excited as she loves fairy tales! She offered to create a black-and-white ink illustration for each of the stories, and has done an amazing job. Everyone’s so delighted to see their work illustrated, and it definitely adds a nice, old-timey touch to the anthology, as anthologies such as the Grimm Brothers’ often included illustrations.
Here is one of the illustrations from the anthology:
C: Wow, your sister is so talented! Does she have a website or portfolio where my readers can see more of her work?
H: Absolutely! Her website is http://haydenillustration.wix.com/maine and she’s got examples of both paintings and soft sculptures up. You should definitely check it out!
C: Of course! That’s next on my to-do list, after we’re finished here. 🙂
Your sister is so talented! Props to both of you for putting forth the extra effort to help us get this anthology out there! What fairy tale or myth did you decide to adapt and what inspired you to choose that one?
H: It took me a while to decide what I was going to retell. I have several retellings of various fairy tales that I wrote years ago, but I wanted to write something new.
Eventually, I settled on the selkie myth. In part it was because I’d recently discussed selkies with a friend of mine, and in part because those myths tend to be very similar to each other (though male and female selkies have distinct archetypal stories related to them). I wanted to put a new twist on the myth, and from the oceans of my imagination, Beneath His Skin was born.
C: The selkie myth? I’ve never heard of that one before. Are there any major differences between your version and the original myth?
H: Well, there are two original versions. A female selkie always has her skin stolen by a fisherman or other passerby, and is forced to live with the man, have his children, etc., until she finds her skin and can return to her sea home. Male selkies, on the other hand, are best known for their tendency to seduce human females.
As someone who likes to focus more on friendship than romantic love in her stories, I wanted to do something different with Beneath His Skin. At times it was difficult to evoke the emotions in my readers that I wanted, but with each draft the story developed further, and I love the end result. Hopefully the readers do as well!
C: Oh, I think I’ve heard of the female selkie myth, although I didn’t know it was called a selkie. The only versions of the tale I’ve seen depict the “selkie” as an angel from Heaven whose celestial robes were stolen by a fisherman. What was the hardest part about writing the story?
H: Trying to portray my male protagonist in an innocent light. A lot of readers didn’t like the first draft because they felt he was being a pervert–which was never my intent! The friendship between him and the girl he meets is meant to be sweet and completely platonic–they’re both young and simply enjoy spending time together. I revised and revised and revised until I was certain that was how their relationship would come across, and even checked in with some of the readers of the late drafts to be certain I’d corrected that issue.
C: I liked reading your story because I’m really into swimming and so I really identified with the selkie and how he always seemed to be drawn back to the ocean. Are you also a swimmer? Do you prefer the beach or the pool?
H: Beach! I can’t stand chlorine, or even fresh water anymore. I grew up summering by the ocean, and there’s something about that scent of salty breeze that always makes me feel at peace. I love diving in when it’s hot out and just floating, or swimming around watching lobsters and crabs and flounders and other sea life.
I drew a lot on my memories of the ocean to describe both the beach the selkie first visits, as well as his connection to the ocean.
C: When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer, and what did you want to do before you discovered your passion for storytelling?
H: When I wrote my first novel in 2007, at the age of fourteen, I realized that this was something I loved to do. I’d dabbled in it before, but that was the moment when I realized that being a writer was my dream.
Before that, I wanted to work with computers, or write programs, or being a veterinarian, or work with horses, or even go to space someday! It depends how far back you go; my childhood was spent bouncing from idea to idea until that first shiny plotbunny showed up on my doorstep.
C: Curse those shiny plot bunnies, lol! 😀 What about projects aside from the anthology? What kinds of stuff are you working on?
H: Currently I’m working on Upgrade, the long-awaited sequel to Augment. I’m hoping to release it early next year.
I also have two fairy tale novelizations in progress, one based on Beauty and the Beast and the other on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Oh, and there’s a fantasy trilogy involving demons and magic (and even a smidgen of romance!) that I’ve been working on for about three years now…
I like being able to bounce between projects. That way I can let a story sit, or dodge writer’s block by focusing on something else for a bit.
C: Do you have any strange writing quirks? I know I do!
I can’t write by hand very easily. It’s so much slower than typing that I get frustrated, and then I write too fast and I can’t decipher the words afterwards.
I also often listen to music when I write, and sometimes I train myself to a certain song or album–to the point that hearing the music makes me want to work on a particular story. There’s actually a Christmas song, Mannheim Steamroller’s “Above the Northern Lights”, that still makes me want to work on Feather of a Raven, even though I wrote that novel years ago and will probably never pull it out again (it’s one of my first novels.)
C: I do the same thing with music, too! Certain songs put me in the mood to work on a certain story, even if I haven’t taken out that story in months!
How about when you’re not writing? What do you do?
H: I love to read, first of all! Don’t get me started on favorite authors… Just give me fantasy and science fiction with plenty of action!
I also enjoy baking–I grew up making everything from scratch because of some allergies in my family, and then at college one of my housemates was gluten-free.
And I love gaming–Minecraft, MMORPGs, Magic… The list goes on. I recently got my own copy of Coup, which is this awesome card game–now I just need to find people to play it with!
When I’m not doing things inside, I enjoy swimming and running, and going on hikes or walks with friends. 🙂
Oh, and my day job is editing, although it’s far less rewarding than writing my own stories. But it pays the bills and gives me free time for gaming and writing.
C: That card game sounds awesome! I’ll definitely play it with you sometime.
Time for some rapid fire questions! Favorite genre to read?
H: Fantasy or science fiction!
C: To write?
H: Fantasy or science fiction!
C: Favorite writing snack and/or beverage?
H: Chocolate! And I love most fruit juices!
C: Mac or PC?
H: PC FOR LIFE!
C: Me too. 🙂 Favorite writing spot?
H: Wrapped in a cozy, fluffy blanket with my laptop on my lap, usually in bed.
C: Sweet or salty?
H: Depends on my mood… Salty today!
C: Disney or Ghibli?
C: Of course. Don’t tell Alyson! 😀 Coffee or tea?
H: TEA. Although I do like coffee, provided it’s no less than 50% cream, 10% sugar, and 40% coffee.
C: And finally, if there was a mechanism of some sort that allowed you to learn any language without having to actively study it, which language would you choose and why?
H: Japanese. I really, really, really want to learn that language, but it’s a struggle learning on my own and I haven’t gotten very far yet. I’d love to be able to speak to friends in Japanese, and I’d also like to be able to read manga in its original language!
C: You should definitely learn it! That way we can talk to each other in Japanese and Kristen and the others won’t understand what we’re saying. xD
Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today, Heather!
Don’t forget to read Beneath His Skin and other fantastical fairy tales in the Just-Us League Anthology, available today! Right now!
Go get it!
Why are you still here? Go get your copy already!
And don’t forget to join us for our launch party! It starts this Saturday, December 10! We’ll be answering questions from our readers and giving away free copies of our book!
Hope to see you there!