Author interview: Hailey Sawyer

1. Do you prefer ebooks, printed books, or audiobooks most of the time?

For me, I prefer physical books. I just like the feeling of holding one in my hand. I also have a huge collection of bookmarks and I feel that physical books really allow me to take advantage of it. However, I’m very much open to ebooks and audiobooks as well.

2. Does writing energize or exhaust you? Or both?

Honestly, it depends on what I’m writing. Sometimes, it’s really fun and easy. Other times I just wanna tear my friggin’ hair out.

3. Have you used an app to borrow ebooks or audiobooks from the library?

Yes. My state’s library system has an eZone that’s powered by OverDrive and I’ve used it many times to borrow ebooks and audiobooks. The UI is clean and easy to understand, you can listen or read the material you’ve borrowed on your phone, tablet, or computer without needing to download another app or program, you can borrow things up to twenty one days (which, for me, is more than enough time to finish something), and overall, it’s fantastic!

4. How long did it take you to write this book?

From 2017 to 2021, Kenji and Yuki: A Japanese Tale had been in development. In other words, four years. Now sure, works like The Other Side of The Wind had been in the works for forty-eight years so my novel’s development period may not seem like much. But those four years were still an adventure and a half for me.

When I first started working on Kenji and Yuki: A Japanese in 2017, the one question I had on my mind was “How am I going to do this?” You see, at this point in time, I had no experience writing novels. Only experience with writing shorter works. On top of that, I struggled immensely with finishing things in a timely manner, including writing projects, and I was also just starting college.

Despite all this, I managed to find a successful way to balance working on Kenji and Yuki: A Japanese Tale and other writing projects with working on my college assignments. I also learned a more efficient way of completing a story’s writing stage with the “outline then chapter” method where I write a single chapter’s plot outline first before writing the actual chapter. To this day, I’m still using this method and loving it.

5. How much research did you need to do for your book?

With Kenji and Yuki: A Japanese Tale, I already had some prior knowledge of Japanese culture before I began working on it. However, I still decided to conduct research because there were some things about the culture that I didn’t know. To get the information I needed, I utilized things like articles, videos, Google Maps Street Views, and whatever else I could get my hands on. I even consulted with some people who lived and worked in Japan.

6. Name an underappreciated novel that you love.

So there’s actually two novels that I would like to name as underappreciated. Those would be The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman and Chase of The Rising Sun by Colin Rink. I actually wrote reviews for them on Goodreads, so if you want to know more about what I think of them, you can go to the “read” shelf on my Goodreads profile, type in either title into the “Search and Add Books” search bar, and hit “View (with text)” when it comes up.

In short, The Evil Wizard Smallbone has characters that are memorable and have distinct personalities, worldbuilding that’s fun and creative, and legitimately great plot twists and ending fight scene. Chase of The Rising Sun is a novel that takes risks and commits to them, has excellently written characters, and really allows the reader to get immersed in the setting’s culture, delivering a (mostly accurate) portrayal of it to boot.

7. What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?

Characters hands down. To me, characters are the most important part of the story. If you don’t care about the characters (i.e you find them to be bland, boring, and/or unlikable), why would you want to read about what happens to them?

8. What is a significant way your book has changed since the first draft?

Well, when you work on a novel for four years, you’re gonna have quite a bit on the cutting room floor. But one big way my novel had changed during development was in the characterization of Yuki. Originally, she was supposed to be this somewhat snarky, trickster sort of character. But based on the feedback I’ve received from beta readers on the first draft of the first chapter, I realized that this characterization was just not working and decided to overhaul Yuki into the character she is today.

9. What part of the book was the most fun to write?

I really loved writing all the parts where Kenji and Yuki are hanging out and getting to know one another. But if I had to pick just one moment that was the most fun to write, I would say the part in chapter eight where Kenji and Yuki are making fun of this film called Reefer Madness. It’s a really simple scene, but it’s the first time that you really get to see them having a ball with one another. It’s also the starting point for a cute little in-joke they share with each other.

10. What’s your writing software of choice?

That would be Google Docs. It’s very similar to Microsoft Word, but it allows me to work on my writing on the go. It’s also free and has no ads, which is a huge plus if you want to minimize distractions. I find Notepad to be a very good no frills program, though I just use it for character sheets and creating files containing cut content. One great program that I recently discovered is Hemingway Editor. It’s a free online program that tells you the minimum education level required to understand your writing, which sentences within your writing are difficult to read, whether or not there’s passive voice being used, and so on. It’s pretty cool and I can honestly see myself using it more in the future.

For more information about me and my novel, as well as other content you may find useful, you may view my media kit

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