Saturday, October 10, 2020

Middle Grade Ninja Episode 91: Author Hayley Chewins

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Hayley Chewins and I discuss her newest novel, THE SISTERS OF STRAYGARDEN PLACE, and our mutual love for the greatest singer, composer, and writing muse extraordinaire, Tori Amos. We also talk about writing intuitively, the joy of language, motivations to write, fixing common plot problems, working with her literary agent, Patricia Nelson, revising without removing your story’s heart, making writing a priority, writing what you love, and so much more.

Hayley Chewins writes books about magical girls with secrets. Her debut, The Turnaway Girls (Candlewick Press, 2018) was a Kirkus Best Book and made the 2019 Amelia Bloomer Book List. Her second novel, The Sisters of Straygarden Place, is forthcoming from Candlewick Press in September2020. Hayley lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with her husband and a very small poodle. She is represented by Patricia Nelson at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

A riveting middle-grade fantasy about sibling bonds, enchanted houses, and encroaching wildness, lyrically told in eerily beautiful prose

The grass grew taller than the house itself, surrounding it on all sides. It stuffed the keyholes and scraped against the roof. It shook the walls and made paintings shiver.

Seven years ago, the Ballastian sisters’ parents left them in the magical Straygarden Place, a house surrounded by tall silver grass and floating trees. They left behind a warning saying never to leave the house or go into the grass. “Wait for us,” the note read. “Sleep darkly.” Ever since then, the house itself has taken care of Winnow, Mayhap, and Pavonine—feeding them, clothing them, even keeping them company—while the girls have waited and grown up and played a guessing game: Think of an animal, think of a place. Think of a person, think of a face. Until one day, when the eldest, fourteen-year-old Winnow, does the unthinkable and goes outside into the grass, and everything twelve-year-old Mayhap thought she knew about her home, her family, and even herself starts to unravel. With luscious, vivid prose, poet and author Hayley Chewins transports readers to a house where beloved little dogs crawl into their owners’ minds to sleep, sick girls turn silver, and anything can be stolen—even laughter and silence.

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