Morning my lovelies and happy Saturday! I’m off to work in a minute but will back in time to watch England play tonight – fingers crossed for us!! But first today, I’m thrilled to be chatting with Lily Hayden on Meet the Author. We’re discussing irresponsible (but good!) friends, favourite films and places to travel, what she’s looking forward to in the next year, her new book, Bad Blood, and more……
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m from beautiful South Wales, and mother to four children, two dogs, two cats, and a house rabbit. I’m a lifelong book lover who penned my first novel at thirty-five, and by day I work in the Financial Services industry.
What inspired you to start writing and where do you get your ideas?
It had always been a dream of mine to write a book, but as someone who knew absolutely nobody in the publishing world it never felt remotely achievable. To cut a long story short, my friend persuaded me to hand my notice in and have a year out to write a book. It just goes to show that you’re never too old to dare your friends to do something incredibly irresponsible!
Joking aside, I’m so glad that I had someone to push me, and it’s these very real relationships and interactions that give me inspiration for my books. Humans are a fascinating species, and the hard part is having to park new ideas to crack on with finishing the current work in progress.
How many books have you written and published?
I’ve written eight books in total, with another two in progress. Six of these are full length contemporary fiction, one festive-themed novella, and a Young Adult Dystopian as S.J Woods.
Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?
For good company, probably Ellie and Freddie from New Rules. They’ve both got sunny dispositions and a great work ethic, so it would be more likely to feel like a luxury holiday than a Lord of the Flies situation. They’re probably the nicest of all my characters and the least likely to eat me when I get cranky from the lack of creature comforts! If I was thinking strategically, I’d have more chance at surviving with Dane and Teonie from Project Terra at my side. Their military survival skills would definitely come in handy!
Name one book you think everyone should read and tell us why?
One book that has really stuck with me is The Boy With Two Hearts by Hamed Amiri. It’s a true story about a family that flee Afghanistan to seek a safe haven in the UK. I don’t tend to read a lot of non-fiction, but I picked this up after reading American Dirt (which is of course a fictional account of the harrowing journey made by millions on the other side of the Atlantic). The book is a tribute to Hamed’s brother who sadly passed away, and to the wonderful NHS who cared for him. I cried and felt inspired in equal parts reading this family’s story.
We see a lot about refugees in the media, but this really brings it home how desperate mothers are for their children, how full of fear another human feels to make such a dangerous journey knowing from the outset that they may not survive it. No human should have to make these choices in this day and age, and it’s utterly heartbreaking.
What’s your favourite film of all time and why?
Stand By Me. It reminds me of my own childhood friends (not that we ever found a body!), but the roaming the streets, the feeling that the whole world is an adventure waiting to happen, and that bittersweetness of knowing that it all comes to an end. It just captures the essence of young life so perfectly.
If you could travel anywhere (world/universe etc!) where would you go and why?
At the moment, I would be happy to go anywhere! I love visiting new places, but Ibiza and California are two places that I’m happy to return to time and time again. As cheesy as it is, a magical visit to Disneyland California with my kids followed by some beach time would be perfect right now.
You win a million pounds – you give half to charity. Which charity do you pick and why? What would you do with the rest of the money?
This is such a tough question as there are so many worthy causes, but the charity that I would pick is the Huntington’s Disease Association (HDA UK). All royalties from my 2020 release Coming Back to You went to this fabulous charity, and I spoke with people living with the illness as well as young carers who receive support from HDA UK. Like many charities, their fundraising has really been impacted by the lockdown restrictions.
With the rest of their money, I can make a start on my dream of expanding my family of animals with a mini sanctuary for animals in need of a home.
Do you feel it’s more important to have a) strong characters b) a mind-blowing plot or c) amazing settings?
It’s definitely down to personal preference, but I’m all about the characters! I find that I’m a rarity in the book world as my favourite subject in school was Sociology, not English! I’m obsessed with what makes us so different and I love exploring this in my stories. It makes my day hearing readers talk about my characters, who they relate to, and which ones they can’t stand!
What are you looking forward to in the next year?
Hopefully, we can all look forward to a return to some kind of normality. It’s a first world problem, but I’m definitely eagerly anticipating hitting the dancefloor as well as jumping on a plane to explore some new destinations! I’m also excited for the release of my next book (date still to be confirmed). I’m a little nervous about the reception as it’s a little darker than my other books, but I can’t wait to find out what readers think!
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
Bad Blood is a family mystery full of twists and turns.
Tim, Rose, Will and Belle led a charmed childhood growing up together on idyllic Bluebell Farm, but everything changed when their mother died. Sixteen years on, they’re practically strangers.
An unexpected invitation from their estranged father brings them back together giving them an opportunity to heal past wounds and start afresh.
But when Frank is found dead on the morning of his wedding, suspicion turns to the four siblings’ motivations, and the bad blood of the past resurfaces.
Thanks so much for chatting with us Lily! I’d definitely start up an animal sanctuary too if I won the lottery!!
If you have any questions or comments for Lily, you all know what to do!
Have a wonderful day my lovelies