I’m pleased to bring you this interview today with Hailey Sawyer, author of Kenji and Yuki – A Japanese Tale.
1) What is your author name and in what state do you live (or country if not in the US)?
Hello everyone. My name is Hailey Sawyer and I was born and raised in Rhode Island. Come to think of it, I’ve never lived anywhere else but Rhode Island.
2) What is the title of your newest book and what is the genre?
Funny enough, my newest book is also my first book. It’s called Kenji and Yuki: A Japanese Tale. It’s a coming of age romance story that takes place in Japan in 2016 and is geared towards Young Adults.
3) What is the book about?
Well in all honesty, I think this blurb sums it up best:
“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.
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 is set to arrive on November 10th, 2021 so stay tuned!
4) Where did you come up with the idea?
If you were expecting some kind of epic or emotional backstory behind how it came into fruition, you’re not gonna get that here. See, this is an idea that just sort of popped into my head one day. At first though, I wasn’t really sure if it was something I’d turn into a novel. But, after giving it some thought, I went ahead with it.
5) How long did it take you to write it?
Kenji and Yuki: A Japanese Tale has been in the works since about 2017. When I started working on it, I was in my first year of college so I had to figure out how to balance working on my assignments with working on Kenji and Yuki and my other writing projects. To be honest, I think I did a pretty good job. Oh and for those who might be wondering, I graduated last May.
6) Did you learn anything from the project?
Prior to working on Kenji and Yuki, I had only written shorter works. I also struggled immensely with finishing things in a timely manner, including writing projects. So for me, this was a huge undertaking.
Now when I write stories, I like to do a lot of planning first. This includes creating character sheets and plot outlines. For this book, I had at least three different documents containing outlines for groups of different chapters. For example, the first document contained outlines for chapters one to four. With this document in particular, it took me about a year to complete before I started writing the actual book.
However, at some point, I decided to employ what I call the “outline then chapter” method. Basically, it involved writing a single chapter’s plot outline first then writing the actual chapter and repeating the process until the book’s writing stage was complete. For me, this method was much more efficient than what I had done for the first plot outline document.
In addition to finding a more efficient method of completing the writing stage, my ability to finish things in a timely manner had drastically improved (though I still kind of struggle a bit from time to time). I had gone from taking months, to near months, to weeks, and finally to days to complete each chapter.
I joined this site called Goodreads in February of 2018. On occasion, I would offer up chapters of my book for beta reading on there to see if I was going in the right direction. To me, I found most of the feedback I received from the beta readers to be really helpful for not only helping me figure out if I was going in the right direction, but also helpful for improving my writing skills. I also consulted the people of Goodreads for feedback on things such as the cover for Kenji and Yuki (which I designed myself using Canva after researching what makes a good book cover and whatnot), and its blurb.
7) Do you have an author website and/or blog? How about a book video?
Oh yes. I have an author website (https://haileysawyer.wordpress.com/), a Twitter (https://twitter.com/haileysawyer101), and a Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/78172698-hailey-sawyer).
8) Do you have any success tips to pass on to fellow authors? How about any great editors/cover artists?
If you want to write a story involving a topic you don’t know too much about, don’t be afraid to do thorough research on it and double check what you think you know already. If you’re able to find them, having your work looked at by people knowledgeable on the topic doesn’t hurt either.
I also suggest looking into Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling, as I feel there’s a lot of good tips in there. I think some of my personal favorites from there are “You admire a character more for trying than for their successes” and “Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle.”
9) What genres do you like to read? Are you open to reading new authors and reviewing their work?
Some of the genres I like to read include, but aren’t limited to, romance, coming of age, slice of life, horror, and comedy. In terms of reading and reviewing the works of new authors, if the work piques my interest, then I’m all for it.
10) What is your favorite book of all time and why?
Oh boy. I have quite a few favorite books so this is a bit of a tough one for me. However, if I had to pick just one, I would say that my favorite book of all time is the Azumanga Daioh Omnibus. Yeah I know I’m kind of cheating a bit because it’s essentially all the volumes of the series combined into one book, but I think it still counts. To me, everything about this book works fantastically. The characters are fun and over the top but still manage to feel like real people, the comedy is top notch, the pacing is well balanced, the list goes on.
11) Fun Question: Do you have any pets? If so, what kind?
I don’t have any pets at the moment. However, over the course of my life, I’ve had two cats, some hermit crabs, and some fish.
12) Fun Question 2: Do you own an electronic reading device? If so, what kind and how do you like it?
Not currently. However, I had one when I was a teenager, but I think I stopped using it when I got one of those RCA tablets for Christmas one year.