Sunday, March 5, 2023

Hayley Reese Chow: The IAN Interview

Hayley Reese Chow is the author of Odriel's Heirs, the 2020 winner of the Florida Author Project, Wishing Shelf Book Award Finalist, and 5th place finalist in the 2021 Book Blogger Novel of the Year Awards. She is also the author of Into the Churn, a romantic YA sci-fi coming from Whimsical Publishing April 4th, 2023. When not falling head over heels into fictional worlds, her hat collection includes mother, wife, engineer, USAF veteran, reservist, four-time All American fencer, 100-mile ultramarathoner, triathlete, world traveler, book inhaler, and super nerd. Hayley currently dodges hurricanes in Florida with two small wild boys, her long-suffering husband, and her miniature ragehound.

IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.

Hayley Reese Chow: My latest book is a dual-POV young adult science fiction adventure coming from Whimsical Publishing on April 4th. Into the Churn tells the story of two young adults entering the Casolla system’s deadliest, and most lucrative, race in an attempt to save their stormy, backwater planet. As a string of mysterious accidents haunts the two racers and the bond between them grows, they’ll have to decide if their dreams are worth their lives. Walking in the footsteps of Hunger Games, Illuminae, and Skyward, Into the Churn features underdog heroes, slow burn romance, and high stakes sci-fi on a ruthless interplanetary stage where appearances are everything, speed means survival, and the only thing deadlier than the storms are the other racers.

IAN: Is your Into the Churn published in print, e-book or both?

Hayley Reese Chow: Into the Churn e-books are available on Amazon. Hardcovers are available on Amazon, B&N, and Whimsical Publishing. Paperbacks and special jacketed editions are also available on Whimsical Publishing’s website.

IAN: What inspired you to write Into the Churn?

Hayley Reese Chow: I spent my college years travelling nationally and internationally as a scholarship fencer and then my early twenties completing triathlons, ultramarathons, and adventure races, so I knew I wanted to write a book that centered on extreme sports and the culture that surrounds them. However, as a sci-fi junkie perpetually obsessed with Firefly, Star Trek Battlestar Galactica, and Star Wars, I also wanted to take that story to a new world full of exploration, gadgets, and new possibilities. Somewhere in that mix, Into the Churn was born.

IAN: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

Hayley Reese Chow: With every book, I become more of a plotter. Now my outlines have grown to 10+ pages before I even start the first chapter. Even though… that doesn’t always mean I strictly follow them.

IAN: How long did it take to write Into the Churn?

Hayley Reese Chow: Writing Into the Churn took me roughly 3 months to write the first draft, and then roughly another 9 months to revise and edit.

IAN: Do you have a specific writing style?

Hayley Reese Chow: I love fast-paced action and dialogue, and those two things can definitely be found in spades in all of my books. In any kind of story, I might show up for the plot, but I stay for the interaction and growth between the characters, and it’s something I definitely pride myself on in my own writing.

IAN: How did you come up with the title?

Hayley Reese Chow: Okay, titles are tough for me. The working title for Into the Churn was actually The Belethea Race Royale… which was a bit of a mouthful. Into the Churn was a lot snappier and in this story it refers to the deadly storms that the teams of two have to survive in order to win the race, but it took me a few brainstorming sessions with my critique partners to come up with it. It’s always tough to come up with something both unique and descriptive!

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

Hayley Reese Chow: Into the Churn has big themes of spreading your wings, learning to trust and rely on your friends, chasing your dreams, and understanding that you are more capable of so much more than you ever thought possible. I hope my readers take all of this away with them, and I hope it gives them inspiration and strength in their own lives.

IAN: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Hayley Reese Chow: With each book, I think I put more and more of myself into these stories. In college, I was a scholarship athlete on the Notre Dame fencing team. My warm-ups were three sizes too big, the girl’s lockers were in the boiler room with a curtain of sheets hung around it, we had a string of student managers that took care of us like we were family, and my senior year, after three years of heartbreaking near misses, we managed to come together to win the national championship. All of those ups and downs, all the blood, sweat, and tears, definitely inspired Belethea’s Race Royale team, and it was so cool to really bring them to life with the touch of those personal experiences.

IAN: How is your book different from others in your genre?

Hayley Reese Chow: First of all, there isn’t a lot of young adult science fiction in the world, and that, in itself, is a travesty. Into the Churn is unique though because not only is it a sci-fi, but it’s also a sweet dual-POV romance, as well as an underdog sports hero story and even a pinch of a murder mystery. There’s a lot of elements layered in one epic, high-stakes adventure, so there’s a little something for everyone.

IAN: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Hayley Reese Chow: Big shout-out to Whimsical Publishing here! Honestly, I was really nervous about transitioning from self-publishing to a traditional small press, and entrusting my book-baby to someone else. But Whimsical Publishing has been so supportive and encouraging from day one. They took my vision for Into the Churn and made it indescribably beautiful—bringing it to life with character art, maps, book trailers, and more. The experience has totally blown me away, and I’m so grateful for all of their guidance and passion.

IAN: Did you learn anything from writing Into the Churn and what was it?

Hayley Reese Chow: I was really nervous when I started this book. It was an ambitious plotline, and I love sci-fi so much, I really wanted to do the genre justice. It was also my first dual-POV story, and honestly both of those elements were so much fun. I never realized how much more relationship depth I could dig into when we get the story from both love interests. And while I tend to genre hop at the moment, it definitely reminded me of how much I love sci-fi, and I can’t wait to write another!

IAN: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Hayley Reese Chow: I just want to say thank you so much for reading and giving my books a look. As a self-published/small press author, your support makes a huge difference to me! And please consider leaving a rating or review if you can—even just a sentence or two helps get indie books out into the world, and I love hearing your thoughts! I appreciate you all so much!

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?

Hayley Reese Chow: I juggle several works in progress at once. I’m currently working on a young adult paranormal horror and a young adult romance, both of which I’m hoping to query later this year. But although Into the Churn is a stand-alone, with preorders going really well so far, the chances are looking good I might get to write the sequel I’ve been waiting to start on!

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