Further to Jae’s interview yesterday, Day Two of our Sapphic Fiction author interviews is with the wonderful Hayden Quinn! Hayden is a woman of many talents – she writes YA, horror, short stories, novellas and novels… oh, and she has an MSc in Psychology on the side! Quite frankly, as someone who very nearly did a degree in Psychology, Hayden is an inspiration to me, and so I was ridiculously excited to interview her!
Hi Hayden! Tell us a little bit about you - who are you, and what do you do?
Hi, it's very nice to meet you! I have been writing forever but I've only been making (a small amount of) money from it for a little while, so I have a day job in mental health. If you've read any of my books, you'll probably already have guessed that I have an interest in mental health, it runs through everything that I do. My YA novels, romance novellas, and even some of my short stories feature characters who deal with mental health issues. I'm also the Founder of The Blade & Beyond, a self-harm recovery platform made up of a blog and a YouTube channel. It's still in it's early days but it is a major passion project for me. I do like to keep busy, but when I relax, I'm with my wife and our two spoiled little kitties. I really love referring to my wife, because we only married in November 2022 so it's new for us!
What made you want to sit down and write your first book?
I was around seven years old when I first sat down to write a 'novel'. The starting point came to me while waiting in line on the playground to go into school at the start of the day, it was about two close friends and what happens when one of them catches the other one stealing something expensive at school. Overall the story made no sense, because I just kept adding all and any ideas that I had to it over time, like a bunch of short stories being strung together. I'm equally glad that it is now long lost and sad that it is, because I can't imagine how bad it was, but I did work really hard on it. It was handwritten and the main characters were all named after the members of the pop band B*Witched (I'm cringing so hard right now!). Growing up I had quite a few false starts at novels, and then in 2011 I had the idea that would become my actual first novel, Ways To Fall Apart. It's inspired by something that happened within my family, and actually helped me work through my feelings afterwards.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
It's always so hard to know afterwards! I tend to start with an idea, then try to develop the most interesting kind of character that could happen to, and then add some ideas layered on top of it. That being said, the 12 story series that I'm doing this year all came about because a younger friend of mine had never heard the phrase "The call is coming from inside the house!" so you just never know where inspiration will strike!
Which of your characters do you relate to the most, and why?
This is an easy one because my third novel, These Endless Days, is the most self-indulgent book I've written and probably ever will write. The main character of Mia is based on myself but she's so much more self-assured and cool than I was at that age. I got to write things that had happened to me, but re-write them to have much happier endings and just come together in a more healthy way.
Has your own writing ever made you cry?
In a way actually, not because I've written anything that has hit me in the way that other writers' books would, but because I've taken inspiration from my real life at times and I've tried to write what I wish had happened, that has made me cry sometimes.
Does anyone you know in real life read your books?
No! I find it really hard to even talk about my writing in real life, so letting people read it is extra-difficult! When I wrote my first novel, Ways To Fall Apart, I was still finding my way and I did ask my parents and a friend to proof-read it for me, but I found it so uncomfortable when they talked to me about anything other than line edits that I've never told my parents about anything else I've written.
Imagine your book, or one of your books, was made into a film. Who would play the lead roles?
This is something I always picture when I'm writing, and usually it's just the case that I picture the main characters as actors from whatever I'm watching at the time. Apparently this is probably because I'm Autistic, I see clear pictures and have a vivid imagination, but I don't imagine brand new people, it's always actors and people that already exist. My dream, besides one of my books being made into a film, would be to see any of my favorite actors in it. What I would give to see Evan Rachel Wood or Kate Winslet play a part in one of my stories!
When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax?
Writing is something that I do find relaxing in a way, because it's such a positive outlet for me. Otherwise though, I snuggle with my cats, play games with my wife and friends, and I read, of course. I generally read YA, I love to read it as much as I love to write it, but I also enjoy true crime. I've been binging the My Favorite Murder podcast since May and there's so much for me to listen to! It's an Autistic dream!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given with regards to being an author?
I did a whole Creative Writing degree, so you would think I would have so much advice I'd been given...but actually I think the Sapphic fiction community on Twitter has taught me more than anything! The most important advice I've had is to write what you want to read, because you won't be the only one who wants to read that, there will be at least one other person who needs it.
How about in general life?
"The things that have happened to you aren't your fault, but they are your responsibility" - I heard it first on TikTok, from Kiri Callaghan, and it's something I try to share with people, especially in my day job. Essentially, you can't spend your whole life blaming your problems on others and the things that have happened in the past, at some point you have to take responsibility and put in the work to make it better.
What is a motto you live by?
It changes all the time, but right now I'm loving "Do it scared" which is something that Elise Myers says a lot.
How can people connect with you?
Twitter is best - @HaydenQuinn13 One of my new year's resolutions is to finally set up a web site and mailing list, I swear!
Finally a light-hearted one. If you were a sandwich, what sandwich would you be?
A Grilled peanut butter and a jam sandwich.
If you enjoyed this interview, then make sure you’re following my social media accounts (@kblakemanwriter on Twitter and @katherineblakemanwriter on Instagram) to get all the latest updates! And if you want to support my own Sapphic Fiction journey while you’re here, my new novel The Summer We’ve Had is available now!