This week, I had the opportunity to talk with this talented young author about her debut novel, The Hazel Tree, which she self-published a few short weeks ago. It is set in a world of werewolves and power struggles, a world in which the main character, Ivy, finds herself forced to make difficult choices that may prove deadly.
First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to have your first novel out in the world?
Unreal. I feel like I should still be going back and writing the next chapter or editing. On the other hand, I’m very happy it is published—I’ve been looking forward to starting my next project.
How did you come up with the idea for The Hazel Tree?
There was a revamp of fairy tales and that sort of thing recently, like Once Upon A Time, and on shows like Supernatural. It was a very appealing idea to retell a story that we had all grown up with, and retelling it with a supernatural twist to it, and making it darker and far more suspenseful. That is what the Hazel Tree was originally based on—Cinderella. The plot from it doesn’t play as big of a role in the story as it did in the first draft, but it is still pretty evident.
Where did your inspiration for your settings come from?
I have a soft spot for the Canadian and Northeastern United States landscape. I love the thick green forests and the mountains and the cold. The woods in North Carolina really stuck with me as well, which is why the Orarius packland is set in the Appalachian Mountains.
Which character do you feel is most like you?
Well my favorite character is Judice. Who doesn’t love a big, tall, redheaded woman who’s one of the best—if not the best—warriors in the world? If I was to write a sequel, she would be a big part of it.
What do you feel is the strongest aspect of your book, and why?
Personally I think that the characters are. The Hazel Tree has quite a cast and I think there’s someone every reader can relate to and come to love. I’m also very proud of the mythology and lore I incorporated into the story and the plot. Anyone who knows me knows I love mythology, folklore, and the supernatural, and that is why I tend to write fantasy. So I love the Celtic mythology entwined in the story.
What would you say was the hardest part of writing/publishing The Hazel Tree?
Everything. Nothing about writing a novel is easy—that’s why you have to love it and love what you are creating. The absolute hardest part was staying motivated. I worked on The Hazel Tree for nearly two years, from the moment I began plotting the idea to when I self-published it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I am awful at keeping deadlines, and several times I had to work on one chapter for over 12 hours just so I could stay even remotely on track. During the editing process, I was so fed up with the story I found it hard to care about doing a good job. Luckily I had my best friend and my mum to keep me going. It is always hardest to create a story if you don’t love it, so you have to find reasons to love it again.
What are you reading right now?
Stephen King’s On Writing and his novel Carrie, and Greg Wilkey’s Mortimer Drake series. They’re all brilliant.
What is one book that you are dying to read?
Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies. (And Wolf Hall—it’s part of a trilogy.)
Okay, just for funsies, give us a random fact about yourself.
And just for funsies, I’ll give you two: I lived in France for 3 years, and I have two dogs, Issi and Mika, and three cats, Walle, Wabu, and Wiki (short for Wikipedia), aaaand two horses, Sharlie and Casper.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on some short stories. I’m hoping to publish a collection of them sometime in the spring, and then begin working on my next novel. I have several ideas to choose from. Also, I hope to get The Hazel Tree published by a traditional publisher, but it isn’t a priority right now.
I wish you the best of luck! Thank you for talking with me, it’s been a pleasure!
Thank you for having me! It was lovely. Cheers!