Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit it is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sorts of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Today I chatting to women’s fiction writer, Hayley Walsh in the tearoom. Welcome to the tearoom, Hayley.
Thank you for the invite, Paula. The tearoom is lovely. I bet the gardens look amazing in the summer.
Yes, they do. You’ll have to come back again later in the year. Let me start by asking you when you first began your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
I have always been a big fan of light hearted women’s fiction. I have a great sense of humour and love to laugh, so when I decided to write my own book, I knew I wanted to make others laugh too. ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ by Helen Fielding is one of my favourite books, and was the inspiration behind my book titled ‘Making March’. Like Helen’s book, it is written in first person point of view in the form of the protagonist’s diary. I love the fact that these books talk about everyday issues that women face in a humourous way. We can all relate to that, and that is I what I love about my chosen genre. I also love to read a good thriller with a twist you don’t see coming at the end, but I am yet to attempt to write one. Who knows, one day I might give it a crack.
What writing elements do you think are your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
I think I am good at making my main character relatable, and making the story fun and easy to read. When I queried the manuscript for ‘Making March’, a couple of responses from literary agents, told me I needed to show the reader what was happening, rather than tell them, and this is easier to do when the book is written in third person. So, after my first two books, written in first person were published, I decided to challenge myself as an author. My current works in progress are all being written in third person, and I am really enjoying the process of learning how to better show, not tell.
Tell us a little about your latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
I currently have three projects I am working on.
The first one is a novel titled ‘Scattered Scones’. It is about a fifty-two-year-old lady who after receiving a devastating diagnosis, decides to take off on an impromptu road trip, across the country with her best friend, to try and reconnect with her estranged daughter. Although the story deals with some serious issues, it is still light hearted, and their will be manyinteresting people she meets on her travels, who will help her accept her uncertain future.
The second one is a novella titled ‘Not Dead Yet’. This tells the story of seventy-one-year-old Mary, who sells up her home and moves interstate to a Retirement Village, 12 months after losing her husband of fifty-one years. Mary has always enjoyed her own company and struggles with the many personalities she encounters in the village. There are two things Mary won’t tolerate, idiots, and nasty women. Unfortunately for her, the village is full of them. Has Mary made a mistake moving there, or will she find something wonderful?
The third one is another Novella titled ‘Tis Not the Season to be Molly’. This is a fun story about the emotional and mental burden placed on women to ensure Christmas happens. You know, buying the presents for everyone, writing out and sending all the cards, decorating, cooking, cleaning up etc. Poor Molly is considering going on strike this year? What will happen if she does?
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
Yes, absolutely. Kate, my protagonist in ‘Making March’ is based on many elements of my own personality. Her daughter Heidi also contains elements of me. The main character, Natalie, in ‘Crayons and Chaos’ was also based on me and my real-life experience of having to adjust to becoming an instant step mum to two boisterous young boys, or miniature terrorists as Natalie likes to refer to them, with no kids of my own, at the age of forty-one. I work as an Aged Care Clinical Nurse Consultant in my day job and have heard so many stories from older people over the years. Both ‘Scattered Scones’ and ‘Not Dead Yet’, were inspired by the stories of two patients I looked after. I feel there are not enough stories told about older people, and I wanted to bring my readers a story about an older person and the issues they face.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I don’t have a schedule I stick to. I simply write when I can find the time, or when inspiration strikes. I have note books full of scribble everywhere. On my desk at work, in my car, and all over the house.
Do you set yourself a daily word count?
No, I don’t. As I work a full-time day job in order to pay the bills, I try not to put any pressure on myself. Depending on what my week looks like (we have my partner’s kids’ week on and week off, and he is a shift worker), some weeks I might bash out 6,000 words, and other weeks, I write nothing due to time constraints, and running the kids around.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
Just the three I have spoken about, along with bits and pieces I’m working on for my blog.
What did you learn when writing your book? In writing it, how much research did you do?
Writing ‘Not Dead Yet’, has given me a great appreciation for authors who write genres such as historical fiction. In the book there are flash backs to the 1950’s, the 1960’s, and the 1970’s in Sydney Australia. I had to look up so many little details such as, was that ice cream invented yet, in order to ensure it was accurate. It’s exhausting and very time consuming.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
My Pen name is my maiden name. I have always wondered whether I would use a different pen name if I ever tried my hand at writing another genre, but I think I would use the same name, and make it clear on my website what genre a book falls under. I’ve read a lot about this topic, and many experts advice authors to stick to one pen name, even if writing different genres, as maintaining two author brands, websites, and social media accounts, would be very difficult.
How long on average does it take you to write a book ?
Ha Ha. How long is a piece of string? It took me five years to finish ‘Making March’. I first started writing it in 2012. I was forced to put it on hiatus many times over the next five years due to job changes, my father’s death, and a marriage break up. I finally picked it back up in 2017, determined to get it finished.
‘Crayons and Chaos’ only took me six months to write. At the time I was querying ‘Making March’, and was looking for a new project to work on. A work friend of mine suggested my real-life experience, would make a funny story that many parents could relate to. It was easy to write, as so much of it really happened.
I have been working on ‘Scattered Scones’ for two years. ‘Not Dead Yet’, I started writing in August last year, and it is almost finished. I have only started working on ‘Tis Not the Season to be Molly’, but plan to have it completed by November this year. I am not putting any pressure on myself to finish ‘Scattered Scones’, as I want to query it for a while when complete.
Thank you for joining me in the tearoom, Hayles. To find out more about Hayles’ writing and books please click on the links below:
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Members’ Books, don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops, too.