Author’s Spotlight: Hailey Sawyer Interview

Hailey Sawyer, author of Kenji and Yuki: A Japanese Tale

– First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?

Hello everyone. My name is Hailey Sawyer and I was born and raised in the state of Rhode Island. Small in size, but big in character that state.

Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?

So, my latest work is actually my self-published debut novel titled Kenji and Yuki: A Japanese Tale. I’d tell you what it’s all about, but I think the blurb will do a better job explaining it:

Meet Yuki Sakamoto.

Sixteen, easily distracted, and a runaway. Coping with the loss of her grandma seems like a mountain she struggles to climb. She hasn’t even had the courage to visit the family grave she’s buried in.

After a series of misadventures, she meets another girl in an abandoned house one night.

That girl?

Kenjiro Furukawa.

Seventeen, wired when not on her meds, and resident of the house. The dark strikes fear into her heart. She has a nightlight in almost every room of the house.

As the days pass, their connection and feelings for each other strengthen through conversations, stories, and outings. But can these experiences help them rise above their struggles?

Kenji and Yuki: A Japanese Tale falls under quite a few genres and classifications. It’s a Young Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary, LGBTQ+ Romance story. If you like character driven stories, slow burn romances, or Japanese culture, then I think you’ll really enjoy it.

Tell us a bit about your main character; what are they like, how did they come about, and what are some of their strengths and weaknesses?

Kenji and Yuki: A Japanese Tale is told from the perspective of sixteen-year-old Yuki Sakamoto who hails from Sasebo, Japan. What defines Yuki as a character is her deep sense of compassion for others, her superb cooking skills, and her exceptional passion for and knowledge on insects and science, as well as being a bit of a rambler, easily distracted, occasionally impulsive, having a fear of snakes and an inability to cope with the loss of her grandma.

– Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

That is a very interesting question. With Kenji and Yuki: A Japanese Tale, I intended it to be a standalone novel. However, I am open to writing a sequel. But only if two conditions are met. One, there’s enough demand for a sequel. Two, I can come up with an idea for a sequel that’s not just a repeat of the original but not so different from the original that it might as well not have any connection to it.

– What are some of your favourite authors and books and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?

Due to my nature as a bookworm, I have come to love so many books and authors over the years. But, for the sake of keeping this answer under an eon long, I’ll only be listing the books and authors that I’ll come back to time and time again no questions asked.

In terms of authors, Rick Riordan, Kiyhiko Azuma, J.D Salinger, and Yoshitoki Oima definitely rank very highly with me.

When it comes to books, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, The Evil Wizard Smallbone, Demon Slayer Volume 1, A Silent Voice Volume 1, and the Azumanga Daioh omnibus are where it’s at.

Unfortunately, I don’t recall the exact reason why I even began writing in the first place. But here’s what I do know. I started when I was a little kid and it was something that I had a ball doing and decided to continue for years to come.

Are there any tropes, clichés, or writing styles that you dislike and, if so, what are they and why?

Oh, you bet I do.

So, one trope that I just can’t stand is “The Third Act Misunderstanding”. Most of the time, I feel like it’s used out of obligation, as if the writer is just using it because that’s what other stories do rather than because it’s a natural progression in their story. It makes things feel forced, stops the story dead in its tracks, and the number of stories I’ve seen where the characters don’t make up in the end is virtually zero.

There’s also the cliché where one character says, “As you know” or some variation to another character before delivering exposition. I think what gets me about it is that the character who is being given the exposition is a character that should already know it. Now, that wouldn’t be so bad if there was an in-universe reason given for why they needed to hear it again, but ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, there’s nothing.

I also don’t like the kind of writing style where the author tries to shove in as many large words or buzzwords as possible for no other reason than to show off. It doesn’t add anything to the story or characters and it just makes the reading experience unnecessarily annoying.

– What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?

When it comes to plotting things out, yes. I’m absolutely the kind of person that does that when writing stories. I create character sheets, plot outlines, and so on and so forth. In my experience, I feel like plotting things out just makes the writing process a heck of a lot easier.

I do listen to music and sound effects when writing. With music, I feel that it helps me capture or get into a specific mood. With sound effects, they help me gain a better understanding of how something sounds in order to describe it accurately.

As an example, during the development of Kenji and Yuki: A Japanese Tale, there were quite a few tear-jerking songs I listened to while writing the more emotional scenes. These included (but weren’t limited to): “Oogway Ascends” from Kung Fu Panda (Stevenson and Osborne, 2008), Neverland Orchestra’s version of a Mary Poppins (Stevenson, 1964), song called “Feed the Birds”, and “Baby Mine” from Dumbo (Sharpsteen, et al, 1941).

– What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?

Funny you should ask that because I’m actually working on a new novel right now. It’s called I’m Pursuing a Monster. At this point, it’s in the very early stages of development. You can find more information about it on my website, but in short, it’s basically Animorphs (Applegate and Grant, 1996 to 2001) meets Dexter (Lindsay, 2004 to 2015).

– Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:

If you want to visit my site, I have a page where you can sign up for my email list, which will allow you to get updates about my work and what-not before anyone else.

If you’d like to be featured in an interview, please check out the interview submissions page to submit your answers.

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