This week, we’re talking with Hayley Machado Hanson about her new YA fantasy novel Calliope Jones and The Forests of Mist.
Tell us something unexpected about yourself!
I am a native Californian, but I’ve lived in Japan since 2015.
How did you get into writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. I’ve always had stories running through my head. It kept me out of trouble in middle school and high school, since I’d rather be in my room writing than running around going to parties.
I kept it up as a hobby as an adult but never thought I’d publish my work. After letting family and fellow writer friends read “Calliope Jones and The Last World Diver,” my first novel, they convinced me I had something that others would like to read and I should take a chance on it.
What are you currently working on?
Book 3 in the Calliope Jones Series.
Where did you get the inspiration for Calliope Jones series?
“Calliope Jones and The Forests of Mist” is the sequel to “Calliope Jones and The Last World Diver.”
I knew I wanted to take Callie way out of her element for this book. She’s from a beach town in California; very used to modern conveniences and customs. I decided that setting her in a world of thick, impenetrable forests, old-fashioned, autonomous villages with very different customs than her own world, and confronting her with creatures that will literally eat you alive was about as far away from her sunny existence as I could get.
She really has to fend for herself, and she has to act with a confidence she isn’t quite sure she possesses if she’s going to survive. It was very much meant to be an exploration of her coming to grips with being a Navigator, what that means to her, and if she is or isn’t meant to do what her mentor, Dr. Ormonde, believes she is meant to do. It’s a book about growth and learning to trust yourself, as well as a fun, spirited adventure into the unknown.
Tell us more about the main characters in your new novel.
There are two main characters in this book. Callie Jones, of course, people will know from “Calliope Jones and The Last World Diver.” She’s seventeen, resourceful, and spunky. She is also a bit impulsive and doesn’t think things through. She believes that her trip into Nebelwald with her robot World Diver will be a quick, three-day hunt for an ancient treasure she needs to find in order to keep her friends and family safe from her greatest enemy, Nathaniel Ormonde, a man also hunting the same treasure.
Well, it doesn’t exactly work out that way!
What Callie truly values most are her friends and family, and she’d do anything to keep them safe.
The second main character is new for this book: Soren Rykerson. He is a new friend Callie meets in Nebelwald, a seventeen-year-old Guide that Callie meets after he saves her from being eaten by forest animals. Soren is very conscientious and somewhat shy, but after he meets Callie, he starts to rebel and make decisions for himself and speak his mind.
Soren is also harboring some important secrets from everyone he knows- including Callie; secrets that prove to be pivotal to the story.
Who is your favorite writer and why?
I love all the classic female writers: think Austen and Bronte. I love them mostly because they did something that, at the time, was unheard of for a woman to do. They paved the way for generations of future female writers. I also love non-fiction writers who make their histories and stories read like exciting fiction- Jon Krakauer and Erik Larson
What are your top 3 books of all time?
Jane Eyre (I know, I know), To Kill A Mockingbird, and Into Thin Air.
Have you got any writing rituals?
I think better in the evenings, so I typically write at night. I like to listen to music while I write as well.
How important is marketing and social media for you?
My biggest weakness is I’m not good at the whole social media marketing thing. I don’t even have a Twitter account! I prefer using social media to look at cute videos of cats or sharing recipes instead of plugging myself and my books.
For a professional author, my media savviness is lacking. Just being honest here. I would say it’s very important and something I need to improve at. I know authors gain followers and readership through social media nowadays. It’s a huge tool for success.
Do you read your book reviews?
Typically, yes! It’s interesting to see what people think. I try not to take them too seriously, though.
What advice would you have for other writers?
Write because it’s fun and you love it, not because you want to be the next big thing in the writing world. Also, before you even THINK about publishing, get that manuscript edited! Editors are worth their weight in gold.
What are you reading now?
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Valiant Ambition by Nathaniel Philbrick, and my book club is starting A Man Called Ove.
What’s your next step?
Once Forests of Mist is released, I need to start working hard on Book 3 in the Calliope Jones series, so after the initial marketing blitz I’ll probably go dark for a little while and just write.
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