Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the two hundred and fifty-eighth, is of multi-genre author Hayley M Coates. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/author-spotlights.
An eighties child at heart, Hayley reminisces about Rainbow Bright, The Care Bears and Pippy Longstockings. An eccentric and dramatic child, Hayley remembers putting on dance and acting performances, as well as selling found items at her brick fence to passersby; such as shells, potpourri and mud pie.
In grade two, Hayley received her first writing award. It was for an entirely plagiarised story called, ‘Cowboy Jack and the Hoopsnake.’ From then on she started writing short stories, songs and poetry. At age nine she attempted to perform one of her songs, and was laughed at, causing her to put her pencil away for a while. Hayley focused on another love: dance. Ballet, Jazz and Modern, to name a few. Hayley performed many times over the years and still has a love of being on stage.
At the tender age of eleven, Hayley found Stephen King. At bedtime, she would creep out into the hallway where there was just enough light to read on. When the couch squeak signalled her mother’s movement, she would rush back to bed and hide under the covers. Tommyknockers, It and The Stand became some of her favourites. Hayley went on to fall obsessively in love with reading and spent hour upon hour in the clasps of an eclectic bunch of authors from R.L Stein and Paul Jennings to J.R.R. Tolkien. Hayley found her love of writing again, and began to imitate the greats. She soon found her own style. The many stories in her head were finally being put onto paper.
Hayley began drawing around the age of twelve and would look through tattoo books at her mother’s friend’s garage. She would copy the images until she began to form a style of her own; witches and warlocks, dragons and naked women were the tattoo trends of the nineties. Hayley was exposed to the biker scene having ties with the Port Macquarie Bandidos. It was a feast for the eyes, for a young girl obsessed with art.
At fourteen, Hayley found herself yearning for more. She was skipping school, and going down a most undesirable track. Rather than continue, Hayley decided to move away from her family and friends and come to the Gold Coast, in Queensland to stay with a friend of her mother’s. She attended Miami High School and never looked back (her family later followed her to the sunny Gold Coast – a wonderful change for them all).
Hayley was ‘unable’ to attend a tattoo parlour for her work experience placement in year eleven. It was a good thing, too, apparently, because her second choice was a primary school classroom. She fell in love with the students and realised her calling in life was to teach. Dabbling in all subjects from English and math, to dance, drama, art, science and history, she realised that she would be able to share her passions with primary school students.
It was her dream to attend university. She graduated high school in the year 2000 and was accepted into Griffith University. While completing her double degree in psychology and education, Hayley started writing her first novel, White Walls.
It was then, too, she found the drums! As if there wasn’t already enough going on, Hayley just couldn’t get enough out of life – always happy and enthusiastic, but eager and excited to learn more, and to do more. She bought a $100 third-hand drum kit and never looked back. She now drums with an African group called Imamba. They gig all over the Gold Coast.
Hayley’s first teaching job was at Biggera Waters Primary School. In her three years there, she worked with an amazing teaching partner, Brooke Curly, became a God-mother, and met and fell in love with her fiancé, Keith.
Standing on the oval, at Biggera Waters School, Hayley saw another of the many ‘signs’ that curbed her life. It was the fifth visit she’d had from a dragonfly in two days and as one swirled above her head, her teaching partner told her to Google them to find their meaning. It lead her to a site called dragonfly toys, which happened to be Waldorf / Steiner made. Having recalled the word ‘Steiner’ from University, she then found the site for the Silkwood Steiner School, who were looking for new teachers the following year.
‘You have to work there. You know that, don’t you?’ Her teaching partner saw that Hayley had found her calling. Perusing their philosophies, she found she was a Steiner teacher, without previously knowing what a Steiner teacher was.
She wandered up the golden path for a visit to the school, to find a place that held the arts in high regard, taught curricula through stories from around the world, studied all religions, was positioned in nature, used natural materials, and was immersed in spirituality. She started work there in 2009 and has been there ever since. Although the school is no longer Steiner, it holds the initial beauty and ideals that lead her there to begin with.
Her pseudo father (her half-brother’s dad), Eddie, fell ill. It came as a sad shock and she travelled with her brother to Newcastle to be with him. When Eddie passed, Hayley realised how very short life was. At his wake, several of his pub mates asked her if she’d published her novel yet. It was that day she knew she had to. Hayley had no idea Eddie had been so proud of her.
Hayley fell pregnant and while on maternity leave in 2012, was finally able to sit down and complete the novel that she’d been working on since attending university. The last few chapters of White Walls were finally complete and the editing process began – as she sat with her newborn daughter, Charlotte, strapped to her chest. Now, after many years, White Walls is complete and will launch June 20, 2013.
And now from the author herself:
The Journey of White Walls
I was actually sitting in an Abnormal Psychology lecture nine years ago (yes … nine years) when the idea for White Walls emerged. It’s been a long process! White Walls was a hobby, whereby I wrote between work, university, art and drumming.
Keeping in mind, I’d had no ‘official’ writing training – only school, a teaching and psychology degree – I then sent the manuscript to my amazing American friend, Carson Buckingham. She is a horror writer, editor, ex-journalist AND comedian (that woman is crazy talented) and she tore White Wall to shreds. It was the BEST learning experience of my life.
I was picked up by a small publisher here on the Gold Coast. After learning so much about the industry, I realised that I wasn’t happy with them. I was doing most of the work myself and that’s when I decided, I needed to do this on my own. White Walls is now being self-published. It’s definitely the right choice for me.
Behind the Book
I began to question the whole idea of ‘sanity’. Some people are free from social restraint – thinking and acting in ways completely unbound by what is expected of them. Often, they are misfits or outcast, and in extreme cases, ‘insane.’
Then, we – the ‘sane’ ones, eat harmful chemicals, let corporations and money rule, sit in front of television sets, take a panadol instead of looking at why we’re actually getting headaches, starve ourselves thin … and that’s just the beginning. Don’t even get me started about Government. We have our clear lines of right and wrong and everyone’s right and wrong are just so different.
That’s the intended, underlying meaning.
The characters and the storyline were fun to create, as you can imagine.
Family and Writing
I’ve been asked so many times; ‘how do you find the time to write?’
It’s not easy! I write at night, or whenever my ten-month-old, Charlotte takes a nap (like right now). It can be done, though! In fact, I appreciate my writing time even more. I try to write a few hundred words a day. I’ve written more since Charlotte was born, than ever before.
My next manuscript is called Robert Mumpkin Myer and the Wish Makers. It’s a rite of passage adventure novel about a young boy’s journey in a magical realm. I’m having even more fun with this one. Especially considering, as a teacher, I have many children that want to read one of my books … they most certainly won’t EVER be allowed to get their hands on White Walls. I just tell them that it’s for very ‘old’ adults – like drinking coffee or driving cars.
Robert Mumpkin Myer is for my daughter.
I have three anthologies on the go, too.
The first is a post-apocalyptic horror/sci fi, called Arid Lands – part of the Writers’ anarchy Anthology: www.lulu.com/shop/multiple-authors/writers-anarchy/paperback/product-21025783.html
The next is an Australian drama called, Bobby, Be Good.
Lastly, I am hoping to get into The Horror Society anthology this year with a short called, Hilary’s Shadow. Fingers crossed!
It’s important to always be sharpening your teeth, or pencil, so to speak.
I probably have my fingers in too many pies, but that’s normal for me.
Advice for Writers
Stop writing for peanuts, unless you think that’s all your worth. I know that sounds harsh, but I mean it. Here in Australia, $30 is enough for milk, bread and a packet of cigarettes, OR two large bags of cashews. I think a paperback copy of a good book is easily worth that.
The second piece of advice I’d like to give is: write your first draft as if no one will read it and then edit like everyone will. The reason my first novel took far too long, was because I obsessed over every paragraph. Allow the writing to flow in your first draft. You can obsess later. Get that story out!
Thanks for hosting me, Morgen.
To all the readers out there, please visit some of my site below!
- Official Site: www.hmcwriter.com
- White Walls Online Launch and Charity Event for Lyme: www.facebook.com/events/140297089490554
- Blogs: www.soulstories.wordpress.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/hmcwrite
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/hmcwrite
H.M.C, White Walls.
Psychiatrist Jade Thatcher thinks that returning to her small, Australian hometown to start again, will be a healing experience – until her new job proves to be just the opposite. Her patients are linked in ways that she can’t explain, and the hospital has seen too many doctors come and go. It’s not long before she is lured by a well-guarded secret; one that sends her to a dark and dangerous place, with little hope of returning.
Sunlight peeked through the gaps in the canopy. The Australian bushland spread over either side of the road, and above them, like a welcoming arch. The quiet shade and cool air made Jade feel secure. Lawyer vines and creepers twirled around the old Gums and Paperbarks. The ground was covered in native grasses and layer upon layer of leaf litter.
It was breathtaking and it reminded Jade of her childhood. She remembered the smell of rain as she ventured through the undergrowth with nowhere in particular to be. There was no set time to be home, as long as it was before the sun went down. She would watch, delighted, as Angus would throw rocks into the creek, catch tadpoles and jump from rock to rock. A much simpler time – just like her mother and grandmother would profess about their very own childhoods. Were we all doomed to become more and more complex?
This was why she returned to Fairholmes. To try to regain some of that happiness that had been here … just where she had left it. Angus spoke, and he had to repeat himself before getting her attention.
‘I think they’ve given up,’ he said.
You’re very welcome, Hayley. Great to have you join me today. I blame Stephen King for me wearing glasses (reading his books under the duvet with a torch as a teenager).
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