Today we travel to Colchester to chat with Hayley Mitchell about how a small desk, Rocky, a meerkat, The Notebook, a chameleon, Captain Planet, monkeys, Greek Mythology, and being a mom to three boys come together as part of Hayley’s past and current life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Wow! Fiction is much easier to write than biography. What to say about me? Can I cheat? Here’s my character description ..
It was a typically grey and drizzly winters day in Colchester. As Hayley looked out of the window she thought again that if you’re going to hail from the setting for a reality/non-reality TV show, there had to be better options than Essex. Besides, her life was far from the glamour of The Only Way is Essex, more like The Only Way is any way you can get though the day! Then that was the life with boys; three boys. Noisy, exhausting, often overwhelming and without doubt absolutely wonderful.
Life was manic but motherhood certainly gave scope for plenty of inspiration, after all, that’s how she started writing. Hayley smiled as she thought of the first children’s book she had written, shortly after her eldest was born. Feeling nostalgic, she picked up her IPad, thinking perhaps she’d write something new.
“Mum! I need a poo!”
Well, maybe she’d get time to write tonight, she thought. Duty calls.
In which genre do you write?
I started writing children’s books, publishing Charlie Bear Won’t go to Sleep, not long after my first child was born. He was a terrible sleeper so it was written at about 3am. Several more children’s books followed, enough to ensure all three of my boys had a dedicated book each and more.
Recently I branched into poetry, very much as a cathartic process to offload some pent up emotions. This then led to a psychological thriller in poetic verse. I tend to follow inspiration, which is largely dictated my my mood, so the genre changes according to how I feel at the time; I’m not sure what sort mood I was in when I wrote Breaking Birds!
What would you choose as your mascot, and why?
Probably a Meerkat. I’ve always been described as very scatty. I am extremely eager and enthusiastic, throwing myself out there with a passion, but then quite often duck down or retreat when things start to take off. Yes, I’ve got the nervous energy of a meerkat, with perhaps the adaptability of a chameleon. A Meermeleon?
What does your ideal writing space look like?
Small. That is if we’re describing my actual desk, which is a little cubby hole built into the corner of my bedroom. In honesty writing usually takes place on my iPad or phone, in fits and bursts around parenting and the rest of life. More often than not, inspiration strikes in the middle of the night, whereby I’ll be scrawling on a notepad or typing on my phone, half hidden under a duvet.
What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?
Rocky! I absolutely love the Rocky films and Eye of The Tiger is first on my running playlist. Such a great story of the underdog beating all odds, it never fails to motivate me. I also love the story behind it, of how Stallone wrote the screenplay and insisted he star in it, despite little interest from production companies. A real case of life imitating art.
Badly explain your hobby.
I bend myself into compromising positions whilst listening to whales moaning about the price of fish.
What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?
The Notebook. I don’t know how I’ve gone this long without watching it, but I was in the mood for a good cry and it didn’t disappoint.
What cartoons did you watch as a child?
Count Duckula. He Man. Mask. Captain Planet.
I still know the theme tunes as well, not to sound old or anything, but they don’t make them like they used to!
Which would you choose? Penguins or monkeys?
Monkeys-it’s a tough one as if you’d ask me to name my favourite animals these are always my top two, but monkeys are so fascinating. Other than their strange tendency to eat their own poop they really are amazing animals.
How handy are you when it comes to fixing things?
If it can be held with blutac then I’m your girl. I have zero DIY skills. My hubby is quite a craftsman (and a perfectionist) so he does the majority of the DIY although I do the painting. One of my New Years Resolutions is going to be to try and decorate the house though, so prepare for some serious TIkTok failures!
If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?
Why must you chase squirrels?
Did you really enjoy the contents of that nappy?
Where shall we go today?
Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.
After six months of saving I’ve just bought myself a campervan/MPV! I’m so excited to get out in it and have big plans… driving half hour down the road, pulling up by the coast and working on my writing. It will only be a few hours until nursery and school pick ups, but it is going to be the most chilled, perfect me time I’ve had in a while.
What are you currently working on?
I’m just about to publish a short, light hearted take on Greek Mythology. It’s the story of Theseus as retold via text messages. It’s a fun, easy read-very different from the dark vibes of Breaking Birds, but great fun to write.
Tell us about your most recent book.
Breaking Birds is a psychological thriller written entirely in poetic verse. I knew I wanted to write a novel in verse. I’d been enjoying writing poetry (often free verse) and the idea of writing a novel in poetry really appealed to me. The format suits me so well; with little time to dedicate to writing, I was able to write a poem here and there, in the odd five minutes of calm in my hectic house! Likewise I hope readers can pick it up when they have a spare minute, as in know we rarely get enough time to sit and read as we might like (though of course I hope, once you start that you can’t put it down!)
The story itself came from a desire to go against instinct. With a poetic novel I initially thought romance, so, being me, I decided to go against the grain and make it a dark, thriller instead. Once I started writing it was very organic, I didn’t force myself to write but just allowed each poem to come naturally-to use a cliche, the book practically wrote itself!
It was wonderful having you on MTA, and learning more about you, Hayley. Wishing you much success, and all the best! – Camilla
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