Alayna Hallward is an author who enjoys pushing the limit. She is still considered new to the writing community, but she prides herself on creating chilling stories. In her stories, she tries to pay homage to other things that she finds interesting. While she enjoys entertaining readers, she believes it is important to challenge a person’s wit.
Describe yourself in five words
If I had to pick five words then they would be mysterious, compassionate, childish, headstrong, and sarcastic. All of which bundle together for good memories and fun times.
What fact about yourself would really surprise people?
I love nature and while I love animals, I am big on gardening. It was something that my great grandfather loved doing. When he passed away, I found myself keeping his memory alive. When you plant a lovely garden, it attracts different creatures. On top of seeing different animals, a garden gives a backyard personality. I love coming up with a new personality each year.
How do you work through self-doubts and fear?
While I have my family and they are very supportive, sometimes it is not enough. I tend to talk to my friends. They tend to give me the swift kick in the backside that I really need. If I am struggling with plots, they offer advice. If I am truly struggling with a certain matter, then I have a group of friends that help me with writing. After working with them I find the strength I need to go back and tackle a certain problem.
What scares you the most?
While it may sound a bit cliché, I actually fear letting people down. I don’t like when people put a lot of faith in me and I am unable to deliver. It is not about making a name for yourself. It is about doing what you set out for yourself. I feel that if I don’t give my all then I have wasted the time and effort that they put into me. The last thing I want to do is make someone feel as if they have wasted their time.
What makes you happiest?
I am the happiest when I am with my friends or family. I wish I could say that we are doing something cool, but that is not the case. It can be as simple as eating dinner together or playing a card game. As long as I am with the people that make me smile, I tend to be rather happy. When it comes to my friends, if I am not playing games with them, I am actually happy when we write together. There is something about coming up with a story together, that just makes my day.
Why do you write?
I write to express myself and as a way to relax. There is something about coming up with a world of my own that keeps me going. I could never draw and there were dreams like becoming a veterinarian that I did not achieve. I realized with writing, I could make a character that could do what I could never do.
Have you always enjoyed writing?
That is actually a tough and somewhat tricky question to answer. I tended to write and read a lot when I was growing up. I did not come to enjoy it until high school. Before that, I mostly wrote for a grade and nothing more. I guess what stopped me from realizing my love was getting over grammar issues. The constant corrections and feedback made me think that writing was not fun. After doing lots of reading, I realized that writing is more than papers. You can express yourself in ways that some people may never understand.
What motivates you to write?
Most of my writing is done with my friends. If they come to me with a storyline and it has a great plot, I cannot resist bringing that story to life. When I am working on a story alone, it all comes down to an idea. If it has grown to a point that cannot be ignored, then I am all for creating the story. When I am creating the story, I want to ensure that I am not the only person that is going to enjoy it.
What writing are you most proud of? .
I am proud of the short story that motivated me to actually write “Deviously Sincere”. It was something that I made in my creative writing class. If it was not for the positive feedback from my classmates, I doubt that I would have kept it going. When I came up with the second draft, I fell in love with the story.
What are you most proud of in your personal life?
When it comes to my personal life, I will have to say I am proud of my own personal growth. I am comfortable with who I am. Since I know who I am, I am finally able to be the friend that I have always wanted to be. While I am still flawed, I like to think that diamonds are flawed as well. Regardless of my flaws, I still strive to make my friends happy.
What books did you love growing up?
I loved “A Series of Unfortunate Events”. I remember seeing the posters for that book in the hallway for a few years. Each year that I saw it, I wanted the series more and more. Then one day I was given the set as a gift and I could not put it down. I also loved Shel Silverstein’s poems. There was something about his poems and books that just made me smile. Other books that I could relate to were “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” and a few Beverly Cleary stories.
What do you hope your obituary will say about you?
That is something that I have not even thought about. It is actually something I don’t place much thought in. I just hope that it makes people smile and is honest at the same time. Since my family will be the ones writing it, I am sure it will capture my personality in some way. In all honesty, that is one piece that I want to have no connection with.
Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?
Since I don’t want my life to have much sway over my work, I will give a few things. I spent enough time in the city and in the country. I am open to living in the country or city. While it may be slower, you can actually appreciate nature in rural areas.
How did you develop your writing?
I discovered online roleplaying and fell in love with it. I learned how to develop characters, plots, and many other things. Without roleplaying, I don’t think I would have gotten this far. Working with other people is a good way to develop yourself as a writer. Since roleplaying has a lot of different genres, like fantasy, fan fiction, etc, you can grow in many ways. This also helped me to see that I was not limited to just one thing.
What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?
They are all hard. I would say marketing takes the cake for sure. Once you create the story and then save up the money you think it would be easy. That is far from true. There is no promise when it comes to marketing, especially if you self-publish. I remember sitting down and thinking that I had to have missed a step. I felt like I was some kind of baker that forgot to add eggs or sugar to the batter. There is no set plan that you have to follow. There are a lot of suggestions out there, but nothing that is for sure. While people can help you, in the end, it all falls on your lap. If you honestly want to see results it all comes down to you. You cannot be shy about things. You have to get out there and promote your baby, because no one else understands everything that went into your masterpiece. There are times when you will get discouraged, because the market is not a stable place. In the end, it is all about determination and going even when you want to sit down. You don’t fully realize the struggle until you have to market your work.
What marketing works for you?
I discovered the Writing Community on Twitter. I tend to promote through there. Like I said, nothing is perfect. I am sure I am not fully using my platform properly. I am sure I could reach more if I had my own website or book trailer. For now, those are projects that I need to start. Word of mouth, via tweets is what truly works for me.
Do you find it hard to share your work?
While I bite my nails over reviews, it is not that hard. The fact that I took a creative writing class truly helped with that. The teacher of the class, I remember tore my work apart and my classmates enjoyed it. At that moment I realized, you cannot make everyone happy. Some people are going to hate it and others are not. As long as someone likes my work then I can keep going. If I didn’t share it, then I would never know where people stand.
Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you?
My family and friends are very supportive. Without them I doubt I would have made it this far. They keep me going and for that I am very grateful.
What else do you do, other than write?
I love playing video games. For the most part I enjoy playing alone, but there are few games that I will play with friends. When I am not playing video games, I enjoy card or board games. I used to play Star Wars: Imperial Assault and Catan. I love games like that and I love learning new games. Outside of gaming, I am big on sports. There are some sporting events that I have not attended, but in time I will check them off.
If you could study any subject at university what would you pick?
Paleontology since I love fossils and dinosaurs for sure. That is mainly something that was brought to life as a child when I watched “Jurassic Park” for the first time. If I had to pick a language to study, it would be Japanese. I was actually supposed to take that class, but it closed before I could join. I ended up studying another language for four semesters.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
There are actually two places that I want to live. I would not mind living in England or in Japan. I love the rural areas for both places. The cities are nice as well. The weather would not hinder my choice. It would just mean that I get to grow a certain garden, depending on where I decided to live.
How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?
Most of my writing is now done on a laptop. If I am out or in bed, then I use a notebook and a pen. I have a lot of notebooks filled with different ideas or plots. If I am typing a story, I will use a notebook to help me track certain events or names. I tried writing at a desk, but I never liked looking ahead at a wall. I may get a desk again, but for now I don’t use one.
How much sleep do you need to be your best?
I need at least six hours of sleep to feel like I am at my best. Since I have issues sleeping at night, my sleep is all over the place. As long as I get over four or five hours of sleep, I can function and think.
Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you?
Success comes from having an active group of people that give you feedback on your work. They participate in questions and answers and want to know more about the story. I wish I could say I care more for the rewards and other things, but I am interested in what the readers have to say. Rewards to me are a second bonus.
It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?
I wish I could write for everyone, but I mostly target people that are in their early twenties. That is the starting age, since I encourage people that are older as well. If my book did not have some violent moments, then I am sure it would be something that possibly young adults would like as well.
Tell us about your new book? Why did you write it?
It started as a short story that dealt with a serial killer giving his confession to a doctor. The feeling that I got while writing as Hyde was something I could not pass up on. It was actually the villain that encouraged me to keep writing the story. I had a vision that revolved around Hyde and his reasons for harming women. I was inspired by other ideas that added more fuel to Hyde’s development. While I created this interesting villain, I had to create someone that could go against him. The idea of a female agent was something that popped into my head. While I wish I could say more about the two, that would require me to spoil the ending of the book. This book pays respect to everyone in my creative writing class that told me to keep going and they wanted more of Hyde. I will admit that some aspects of the short story appear in the novel.
If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive, who would you ask?
It would not be a party if I just invited one person. I will start with the people who are no longer with us. I would invite: Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Stevenson, Bram Stoker, Arthur Conan Doyle, Shel Silverstein, and Mary Shelly. For those that are living I would not just stick with authors or poets. I would invite: Lemony Snicket, Patrick Stewart, Jeremy Irons, Ian Mckellen, Tom Hiddleston, Beverly Cleary, and Judy Blume. I like that my guests are all over the place since each has inspired me in their own way.
When you are not writing, how do you like to relax?
Depending on the season, I am either outside in my garden or doing something that allows me to be outside. I love going to sport events. When I feel like being lazy or it is too cold, then I enjoy playing video games or any type of indoor game.
What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel?
I hope that people just get lost in the story. I hope they feel some type of chill run through their body while they are reading. I truly wish that they are able to picture the characters how they want. There is a reason why I never actually describe how my characters look. My story gives the reader the world they are in, but they come up with how the characters look. I may give minor hints, but for the most part it is on them to create their own view. I believe that doing that allows them to feel closer to the story. Also, I encourage my readers to read closely. Names are mentioned for a reason and it is important to track dates, names, and other important details. I may mention a name once or twice, but it has meaning. Meaning is something that is explained either right away or over time.