Meet Hayley Chow.
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Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.
Hayley Reese Chow has short and flash fiction featured or upcoming in Lite Lit One, The Drabble, Bewildering Stories, Teleport Magazine, and Rogue Blades Entertainment’s omnibus, AS YOU WISH!
Until recently though, she’s mostly done a lot of things that have nothing at all to do with writing. Her hat collection includes mother, wife, engineer, USAF veteran, reservist, four-time All American fencer, 100 mile ultramarathoner, triathlete, world traveler, voracious reader, and super nerd. Hayley currently lives in Florida with two small wild boys, her long-suffering husband, and her miniature ragehound.
But at night, when the house is still, she writes.
I adore your site tagline of “Telling stories fished from the dreamcatcher.” How did you come up with it? Do you have a dreamcatcher?
My writing tends toward the speculative and fantastical, so I really like the idea of dreams being a potential source of inspiration. When I was a young kid, I used to have really horrible nightmares, so my mom got me a beautiful dreamcatcher. I think I was a little afraid of it. For some reason, I’ve always thought they were a bit eerie, like some kind of sandman spider crawled through it while you slept. I became convinced that the dreamcatcher actually made the nightmares worse, so it disappeared back into my mother’s nest of treasures. The nightmares are gone, but I still have extremely vivid dreams (zombies, time-travel, magic… you name it), often in the third-person. They’re not always writing material, but they are always interesting.
Out of your published works, which story gave you the most backlash while going through the process: from writing to revising to final edits?
I think I had the most trouble with my first foray into dark humor in my short story, “Wild Demand.” The plot came to me right away, but I struggled to get the tone right in the first few drafts. Walking the tightrope between amusing and disturbing turned out to be a little tougher than I first imagined. Then, even after it was finished, I wasn’t sure what genre to call it. I usually write fantasy or science-fiction, so trying to classify a “not-quite” contemporary short story was difficult for me. I write for me and think about publishing later, so stuffing the story into a genre box to pitch at someone can be a little awkward sometimes.
What made you decide to go the self-publishing route?
I did give the traditional route my best shot. I queried agents and got a handful of full requests that were inevitably followed by a long wait and then the standard feedback that it was “good but just not quite right for them” or something similar. Then, I got connected with the writing community and realized how many great indie books there are out there. I started investigating self-publishing, got some tips from other indie authors, and decided to go for it. This book has been a work-in-progress for a long time, so it was extraordinarily freeing to have some closure in sight. Now, that I have a handle on the process, I think I will be much quicker to move to self-publishing rather than spend valuable writing time in the query trenches.
As a follow up to the previous question: What would be one thing you’d stress of importance to other writers considering this route too?
Research everything! The amount of resources out there for indie authors is tremendous—from editing, to formatting, to marketing—there are so many options and a lot of steps in the process (so try to plan ahead if you can.) The writing community on Twitter and Instagram can also be a great source for information and encouragement. Through tips from other indie authors, I discovered Amazon KDP and the Reedsy blog, which have both been tremendously helpful. Self-publishing is definitely a journey that takes a lot of time and energy, but a very fulfilling one.
YA vs. Middle Grade: What are some challenges you face when switching between age groups while writing?
At 12-years-old, somewhere in between MG and YA, I fell in love with reading. So, I often feel stuck between the no man’s land of lower YA and upper MG. I think the struggle begins with the decision if the story will be YA or MG. Which, thus far, has depended on whether the journey’s end takes them to independence or brings them back to their family. From there, I really have to work to keep the darkness under control in a middle-grade and maintain a more simplistic sentence structure, since I think my natural voice is a bit more appropriate for YA. Either way, I love getting to know a world with a young main character that still has so much room for growth and change. I’ll never grow up!
How did you go about creating your website – research, asking other writers?
I avoided making a website for a long time, but after I decided to self-publish, I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. I asked for tips from other writers on social media, consulted with the almighty google, and checked out other author websites to get a general feel for what I needed. There was a bit of a learning curve, but wordpress has a simplistic visual block editor that’s easy to use once you get the hang of it. I utilize a minimalistic design, but it works well as a place to highlight the links to my published work and some snippets of my writing. Ultimately, it wasn’t as hard as I feared and I’d totally recommend it for anyone looking to augment their online platform. Lessons learned: Everything is learnable, so google everything.
Real life vs. Writing: What is your daily writing routine?
I’m a full-time engineer with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, so I basically get 2 hours to myself after they go to bed. I get a cup of hot honey-water (my cheap, lazy version of tea), settle onto the couch (or sometimes a tiny elmo armchair) and then the night can go one of two ways. If I’m on a drafting binge, I jump straight into the story and knock out a couple thousand words. But if I’m revising, editing, querying, formatting, marketing or working on some other non-writing task, I have to settle for a one word writing prompt on social-media—very short stories on twitter and haikus are my favorites. I wish I had more time to spend writing, but in the end, my family and my day job will always come first. Still, I feel lucky to have a creative outlet I feel so passionately about.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?
Well, I am releasing my debut novel on 1 March 2020! *Insert fanfare here* Odriel’s Heirs is a YA Fantasy starring a demon necromancer, a handsome shadow-twister, and a bullied fire-wielder with rage issues. If you want to take a peek, the first chapter is here: https://hayleyreesechow.com/odriels-heirs/ and I’d love to hear what you think.
And as much as I love writing, I actually love reading more. So, if you ever want to connect and talk about anything that has to do with books, please feel free to reach out on Instagram or Twitter @hayleyreesechow.
Be sure to follow Hayley for updates!
Her debut, Odriel’s Heirs, is coming soon!