Friday, September 2, 2016

Author Interview with Heather Hayden

Welcome to Heather Hayden, the author of Augment.

By Government-enforced mandate, genetic augmentation and implant technology cannot coexist in the same human body. Sixteen year old Viki's life has depended on her implants since she was five.
Now her implants are failing.

When Viki discovers that the malfunctions are due to illegal augmentation, she is determined to find those responsible. However, Agent Smith of the Search and Retrieval Bureau is also looking for the geneticists who augmented Viki, and his orders are to capture them by any means necessary--even if it requires risking Viki's life by using her as bait.

Viki's friend Halle, a rogue AI, is doing its best to help her search, but Halle has its own problems. Agent Smith had been closing in on the AI before being reassigned to Viki's case, and Smith's partner is still on the hunt. Searching for the geneticists risks exposing Halle, but Viki and her friend must find them first--they are her only chance for survival.

Heather is currently working on a sequel, Upgrade. And here's what Heather had to say when I interviewed her.

Kristen - Which writers inspire you?

Heather - Oh dear, this question... It’s so hard to answer, because there are so many answers. Though those who have read my earlier books would definitely say I was influenced by Brian Jacques (because I spend so much time describing the food). I’d say that it’s really more a conglomeration of Jacques, Asimov, Cherryh, Beddor, Colfer, Novik, Collins, Jones... I think you probably get the idea! Most of the writers are fantasy and science fiction, though; they all introduced me to fantastical worlds.
Kristen - Haha, I never thought about how much time Jacques spends on food descriptions. I love food descriptions, though, especially when they make your mouth water.

What’s your favorite method for coming up with names for your characters and locations?

Heather - I like to choose names that have a meaning associated with the character. It’s a bit cheesy, but I find it fun! As for locations... Sometimes I do the same thing, other times the name just sort of pops up. When I’m at a loss for either, I turn to the mighty search engine of Google to help me locate potentially interesting names.

Kristen - Not cheesy at all! At least not to me, as I do much of the same thing. Even if the readers never know, it's like a private little thing that you'll see every time you read or talk about your story.

If you could be any one of your characters, who would it be and why?  

Heather - Hm, that’s such a difficult question to answer! First there’s Sharque from The Astrals who actually was me at one point—the original story was based on a role-playing game my friends and I used to play. She’s grown a lot as a character, though, and the resemblance isn’t really there anymore. Plus, she has super-awesome water-manipulation powers! And she doesn’t have to worry about drowning, and she’s a great swimmer—all things I wish I was! But then there’s Halle, the AI from Augment and Upgrade, who can do pretty much anything it likes in the Cloud (though I guess in our world, that wouldn’t be quite as useful, and limited by the reaches of the Internet.) And Viki, Halle’s friend, who’s a great runner—something I am not. And in stories I haven’t brought to light yet, there are mermaids and pegasi and cats and androids and dragons and all sorts of other amazing characters! It’s hard to choose just one. But for the sake of answering the question, let’s go with Sharque. I really want to be a better swimmer!

Kristen - I love swimming! I wish I had more time to go. I'd definitely love a pool of my own.

Do you use any references to mythology or real-world folklore in your stories, or do they contain their own folklore?

Heather - Augment and its sequel, Upgrade, are science fiction, so they don’t really have any references like that. My fantasy trilogy of magic and demons has some grounds in the religious mythology of our world, but also their own myths. Another book I’m writing, The Astrals (working title), has myths and legends surrounding various different races, including the astrals, which is the race of several main characters, and the elementals (not saying more on that to avoid spoilers!) And for an upcoming anthology, I’m writing a retelling of the selkie myth, so that’ll definitely have references to the original. As well as my own twists, of course. I love writing fairy tale retellings!

Kristen - Have you ever created your own race for a book you wrote? 

Heather- Actually, yes! I almost answered no, and then remembered that the astrals from The Astrals (working title) were in fact of my own creation. Sort of. Originally I called them goddesses/gods/deities, but in reality their powers aren’t quite the same, though they are inspired by deity myths, and they do draw power from the belief of other races (mainly humans.) However, they aren’t immortal or all-powerful and must train hard to develop their powers so they can become a “mature” astral. They also must journey through the world as their final test of their maturity—this journey is where the story in The Astrals begins, as four young astrals set out to test their powers. Unfortunately, their path has plenty of obstacles on it… But getting back to the main question, I changed the name when I decided that “deities” didn’t really work for them. I think the astrals is one of the few races I’ve actually created for a story; most of the time my stories only involve humans (and the occasional AI, android, elf, dragon, or mermaid.)

Kristen - I've done the same with races in my novels. It's fun to take races that have been already created and tweak them a little and come up with something unique to your world.

Thank you for letting me interview you and I can't wait to read Upgrade!

I've had the pleasure of reading Augment. If you're interested in my review, you can find it here.
Augment is available on Amazon!

Though a part-time editor by day, Heather Hayden's not-so-secret identity is that of a writer—at night she pours heart and soul into science fiction and fantasy novels. In March 2015 she published her first novella, Augment, a YA science fiction story filled with excitement, danger, and the strength of friendship. She immediately began work on its sequel, Upgrade, which continues the adventures of Viki, a girl who loves to run, and her friend Halle, an AI. 

Learn more about Heather on Twitter or her blog, both of which consist of equal amounts of writerly things and random stuff she’s interested in.

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