It was Emily, first, who taught me to write with heart, simply by watching her write her own stories. She lived and loved them, and I had not been able to look at her style and imitate some key steps at the beginning of my journey, I would never be where I am today. If she had not asked me to read one of her stories, and a couple of years later, said yes to reading one of mine...but she did.
And today, Emily is bursting on the world with her novel debut: a YA planetary fantasy, Crowning Heaven, crafted with heart and love and vision. It's a story of rival queens, of kindness and danger, of courage and responsibility...of a girl named Heaven, loved by one kingdom who wants to crown her and pursued by another kingdom who wants to kill her.
It's a joy to interview Emily on the blog today. (And stay tuned for a giveaway below!)
I got into story writing because I told stories for years, really ever since I can remember. I hit probably twelve or thirteen and I started writing some in documents on the computer. It was just kind of a natural progression. Oddly, I would boil it down to two things. I love people, and I was scared of things as a child. All the stories I ever made up as a kid were about people in dangerous situations doing brave things. I think for me, telling stories was a way to deal with things I didn't know to deal with any other way. And then I am so inspired by people and find different personalities fascinating, that once I started making up characters I found I couldn't stop. As for Crowning Heaven, I just knew. I had been working on a heavy historical fiction project for a while that I was intending to publish first, and then Crowning Heaven came out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. There are those projects that come and take over all on their own and this was certainly one of them.
I love how storytelling brings bravery and courage. That is so inspiring. What are some themes and character personalities close to your heart in Crowning Heaven?
Man, there are so many. Heaven dealing with death and loss, for one. I feel (though she had a far sadder upbringing) that I can relate on that level--being tender-hearted and loving people and trying to with wrestle death and who lives and dies, often when there seems to be no reason. I also love the themes of hope and finding beauty in the midst of darkness or being kind or doing the right thing regardless of what anyone else is doing. As for characters, I have always been fond of Thrasi. I don't think we are much alike but I so respect his reserve and his sense of honor. Of course, there's Heaven, and both Breac and Nic are just the sort of people who I would have admired growing up. And Swithun Flood. He has a very special place in my heart. He above anyone else I think I would respect in real life. I don't know. I want to say them all.
You have such a gift for writing heroes. I always love the integrity you capture in your characters. Are there any authors or art pieces that inspired you in writing this story?
Many. With authors (this is going to be a weird mix) it was probably Rosemary Sutcliff, Kathryn Worth, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Eloise Jarvis McGraw, and Armstrong Sperry among many, many others. I tend to read voraciously and then inspiration sort of filters down and I don't even realize who has inspired me. With this project actually, I had a few specific films that inspired me: Thor, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and all three Hobbit films. Coming off of watching them flavored and inspired the direction of this book. And then a particular piece of music: Homecoming by Thomas Bergersen. I heard it at a very formative stage in the book's development and it has been my faithful companion ever since. It encapsulates the whole impression of the book. For drawn art, check out my Pinterest board. All that's on there.
Very cool! I love the mix of things you drew from in your creative well. OK, so what have you enjoyed most about this publishing journey so far?
Getting to share my book with people. Seeing them fall in love with the characters that I am so madly in love with. That's it right there.
Yes!! Do you have a favorite way to celebrate on launch day? Movies? Tasty goodies?
As this is sort of my first time, I will see if I perfect my launch day celebration, but here's what I decided on the other day that I think might be my ultimate favorite: a nice cake, something sparkly, and a beloved film, preferably one that helped inspire my book. Oh, and writing again. I miss my first drafts!
Aww, this sounds perfect! Just the thing. If you could be a character in your book for a day, who would you pick and what would you do?
This is way harder than I thought it would be. Maybe Jani, because Jani always finds a way to have fun. If I was Jani I would go sneak back to Earth and buy myself pizza and a milkshake. But I guess I could do that anyway.... Tell you what, I would want to be Athen, and I would want to go up to the fast-running rivers in the north and go fishing for the great fish that spawn every year.
Jani's such a fun friend. I would totally want to do that too. OK, so last question: how do you feel that Crowning Heaven adds an important voice to the YA genre, and what message would you like to send with it?
The YA genre is in general very dark right now. Teens and others around that age are finding that the world can be an unfriendly and evil place and the genre is reflecting that struggle. I feel like Crowning Heaven is important right now especially because it takes real issues and it deals with them, yet without exposing the reader to content that is harsh or explicit, and while inspiring courage and hope. Many books that try to tackle hard issues can leave you feeling dark or discouraged and I think they do you a disservice because that actually is only half the picture. Because there is a God, there is hope. And that is what I strive for in my writing, to instill hope, to inspire courage, to show the beauty that exists around us, all while telling a good story. A good book should not primarily be about an argument or propaganda, but about telling a good story. And I think YA is in need of good stories right now.
Thank you so much for doing this Q&A! It's a joy to have you on the blog and celebrate your FIRST BOOK RELEASE!
Oh, it was my honor. Thank you for having me!
If you'd like to purchase Crowning Heaven--
who are we kidding Schuyler, GIVE ME THE LINK
Enter the Giveaway
Comment below for your chance to
win a Crowning Heaven themed
candle and art print!
Giveaway open until 5/22. International participants are welcome!
Meet the Author
As long as she can remember, Emily Hayse has been avidly in love with story, a love that has only grown with time. A fascination with human nature and an ongoing quest for courage, hope, and beauty drive her writing passion.
When she isn’t writing, she can be found working with dogs or horses, studying historical tall ships, or trying a new recipe in the kitchen. Her hobbies include learning Maori and Gaelic, playing the bodhran, and trying to restore a classic car.