Author: Nicole Hayes (Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
I am very pleased to welcome Nicole to Reading Upside Down. Nicole is an exciting new voice in Australian YA fiction whose books explore some very contemporary and relevant topics for teens (and, dare I say it, adults).
What book(s) are you currently reading?
I‘m reading the manuscript of Melanie Benjamin’s new novel, out next year, called Swans of Fifth Avenue. It’s fabulous! Glamorous, scandalous and rich with the sort of unforgettable characters Melanie is famous for. Plus it features Truman Capote! What’s not to love?
I’m also reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants, which is both hilarious and insightful – much like Tina Fey herself, I imagine.
Do you have a favourite genre? What do you enjoy most about it?
Not really. I have genres I don’t generally read, and genres I tend to gravitate towards, but even then there are so many exceptions. There is a pattern of contemporary social realism and fiction in my reading, whether in YA novels or non-YA, but then, when I think about my favourite novels – The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, or Beloved by Toni Morrison, for example, or what I’m reading right now – none of them fit that category! Truth is, I love great stories and memorable characters – give them to me in any form, any location, and whatever genre, and I’ll go with it. Happily.
Do you have a book you like to re-read? If yes, which book?
Yes. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It’s both grim and heartbreaking, yet, I would argue, it’s quite beautiful. It is the almost perfect book. There’s not a word out of place, or a sentence that hasn’t earned its spot. It’s a tough read because of the bleak, unforgiving landscape, and yet, in the end, it’s a love story between a man and his son. The cleanest, purest expression of love. It never fails to move me, often for days after rereading it.
Where do you read most often? Why?
In bed, though less and less lately because I struggle to stay awake when I do. I have a brand new “reading chair” I bought primarily to force myself to read more, and more often. I’ll let you know if it works.
Do you have a favourite book from your childhood?
I have two that, for years and years, I read and reread more times than I can count: Roald Dahl’s Danny the Champion of the World, and Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty. I should re-read them now to see if they still resonate in the same way. I’m going to bet they do because they both feature such memorable characters – characters I can picture in my mind, even today.
How do you choose which book to read next – Cover? Blurb? Recommendation from a friend? Reviews?
Um, yes? All of the above? Usually via recommendation, but so often I find myself at a bookshop, my memory failing me, and the scrupulously noted list of recommendations and “must reads” somewhere useful, like my kitchen bench, or my bedside table. So I scan the shelves for a cover that strikes me, or a name I recognise. Or both. I read a lot of YA because, frankly, I’m rarely disappointed when I do. Particularly Australian YA, which is producing some of the best writing out there. That’s my fallback – when in doubt, pick Aussie YA. You won’t be disappointed.
You can put one book you have written and one book by another author into a time capsule that will be opened in 100 years. Which books would you choose and why?
You’re asking me to choose a favourite child! So I’ll start with the easy one. The other novel I’d pick would be The Road, because it’s a favourite and because it’s a cautionary tale for the future – although by the time the capsule is opened, it might be too late anyway. Still. It’s a beautiful piece of writing.
Of my novels, I’m going to (reluctantly) pick The Whole of My World, not because I prefer it to One True Thing, but because it’s the first of its kind – that is, a footy novel written by a woman, featuring a female footy fan – which, I imagine, is the sort of thing we should include in time capsules.
Can you share little bit about your current or latest writing project?
My newly released novel,ONE TRUE THING is about sixteen year old Frankie Mulvaney-Webb who’s forced to deal with the fallout of her politician mother’s very public scandal. Frankie is a budding rockstar who hates politics, despite – or maybe because of – her Mum’s job. She’s more worried about the pending audition for her band which she and her best friend, Kessie, started that year. Except suddenly Kessie’s gone AWOL, and there’s a very cute, aspiring journalist, Jake, asking a lot of questions Frankie doesn’t want to answer. Or know how to. There’s also an asthmatic little brother Frankie feels she has to protect, and an overbearing grandmother who knows far more about what’s going on than she’ll let on. And the publication of scandalous photographs that threaten to tear her family apart.
Nicole Hayes is an Australian author of young adult fiction. Her books include The Whole of my World, published in 2013, and the recently released One True Thing, both published by Random House. You can find out more about Nicole on her website and Facebook page and you can chat with her on Twitter (@nichmelbourne).by