Hi everyone and welcome to my interview series Saturday Night Author Fever, where I interview authors with a bit of a 70s music and diversity theme. I personally love 70s music, especially disco music, and sometimes on Friday nights when no one is looking you can find me dancing to classic 70s songs such as September, Bennie and the Jets and We Are Family. However, books are my true passion and because of this, I thought it would be a great idea to mix my two loves and start this interview series. The questions will be similar every week, but with a new author every time, and I hope you’ll enjoy the answers as much as I have. Now let’s get this party started!
This Saturday Night we welcome Hayley Chewins. Thank you so much for sitting down with me today in my galaxy of books.
Hayley, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books? What do you think about 70s music?
Sure! My debut is called THE TURNAWAY GIRLS and it’s a middle grade fantasy about girls who are trained to turn boys’ songs into gold but who aren’t permitted to make any music themselves. The main character, Delphernia Undersea, sings in secret—and discovers a new kind of magic that changes her whole world. It’s coming out in September 2018 from Candlewick in the US and Walker Books in the UK and Australia.
Music is a huge part of my life. In fact, until I was eighteen I wanted to be a professional singer. I really connected with the singer-songwriter tradition of the 70s when I was a teenager. I loved Cat Stevens and Bob Dylan. I also listened to a lot of ABBA growing up, because my mum loves them. That music is pure happiness to me.
I hardly ever perform, but I still love singing. I’m writing some songs as an accompaniment to THE TURNAWAY GIRLS—hopefully I’ll be brave enough to share them closer to my release date.
When did you feel like this is it, I’m an author whose words are going to be read by, and have an impact on, others?
When my agent phoned me with the news that Miriam Newman at Candlewick wanted to buy my book. It was so surreal. I screamed and then went really, really quiet and didn’t know what to say. (Thank goodness my agent is understanding when it comes to my supreme awkwardness.)
What do you want your readers to take with them after having read your books?
I would love for girls—all girls—to know that their voices matter.
What does the future look like for you, Hayley? Future projects, releases etc.?
At the moment I’m still very much preoccupied with THE TURNAWAY GIRLS. But I’ve been playing around with other ideas in snatches of free time, and the plot for my next MG fantasy is finally taking shape, which is really exciting!
If one (or several) of your characters got invited to a disco, what would be the most unforgettable part of their night and why?
If Delphernia Undersea were invited to a disco, her mind would be blown to smithereens. The music would be a revelation to her. She adores music, but her exposure has been limited to the flute and voice. So hearing disco would be like magic to her.
You can easily look back at the 70s and see how the times have changed. If you look at the book community and publishing world today, what changes would you like to see for the future?
This is a very specific thing, but I’d definitely like to see an end to the attitude that when writers of colour get published, white writers lose out—as in, it makes it harder for their books to get acquired. This just isn’t true, and it’s harmful. White feminists need to support women of colour. Period.
Hayley, can you recommend two already published diverse books you’ve read and loved and one you can’t wait to read?
I absolutely adored THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN by Roshani Chokshi. It’s a completely original fantasy told in lush, literary prose. I’m dying to read the sequel, A CROWN OF WISHES.
One of my favorite MG novels ever is INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN by Thanhha Lai. It’s told in verse and it’s about a Vietnamese girl who immigrates to the US. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and poignant.
The diverse read I’m most excited for is Kheryn Callender’s HURRICANE CHILD, which is coming out in 2018 from Scholastic. It’s a magical realist story set in the US Virgin Islands about a young girl’s search for her mother. Kheryn’s writing is stunning and I’m so excited for her debut! She just revealed her cover yesterday and it’s GORGEOUS! You can find that here.
Lastly, to end this interview, do you have a favorite 70s song to recommend your readers?
There are so many incredible songs from that period. One of my favourites is IF YOU WANT TO SING OUT, SING OUT by Cat Stevens. I love the lyrics!
Thank you so much, Hayley, for answering my questions. I hope you readers enjoyed this interview, I know I did! Eager to find out more about Hayley Chewins? All information about her and her books can be found on her website. You can also find her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads.
About The Author
Hayley Chewins writes books about magical girls with secrets. Her debut novel, THE TURNAWAY GIRLS, is forthcoming from Candlewick Press and Walker Books in September 2018. She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with her husband and a very small poodle. Her work is represented by Patricia Nelson at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.
Since I promised a very 70s music-themed interview series, I have one last surprise, a favorite 70s song of mine (and there will be a new one every week yay). Now let’s get those dance moves on, here’s Because the Night by Patti Smith.
Do you want to listen to all of the songs from my Saturday Night Author Fever interview series?
To make things easier I have created a Spotify playlist that features all of the songs mentioned in my Saturday Night Author Fever posts. You can check out the playlist below or go here. Every time a new interview is published new songs will be added to it.