It's Day Four of the Indie Author Spring Festival, an event in which we celebrate a variety of different indie authors with a new feature and deal each day. Today is the turn of Hayley Anderton, the host of the event and the author of the Apocalypse and The Last Girls on Earth series. We chat to her about how she came up with such a wonderful event to promote indies, her co-writing process, and the inspiration behind her stories.
You’re the creator of the Indie Author Spring Festival and you have also hosted spotlight events in the past. What inspired you to dive into the indie community and begin planning such widespread celebrations and what do you most enjoy about the planning?
When I started my indie publishing journey last year, I saw it as an opportunity to meet and connect with other people like me. I studied Creative Writing at university, but many of my friends from my course stopped writing after we graduated. I wanted to talk to like-minded people about what we do in the world of indie publishing. When I decided to host the Indie Author Advent Calendar, it was out of a desire to help others feel seen and to get indie books in the hands of readers. I’m hoping that the Indie Author Spring Festival will have the same effect and more! The thing I enjoy most about the planning is knowing how much it’s going to possibly benefit the authors involved. That makes all of the hard work worth it!
What made you decide to self-publish rather than follow more traditional routes?
The thought of traditional publishing always gave me a headache! I have always wanted to write for a living, but I wanted to keep some control over my stories, from the writing itself to the cover design and the executive decisions on each project. I have been a ghostwriter since leaving university and watching all of my hard work be credited to someone else hasn’t been painless. Indie publishing has allowed me to take back control a little. It might not make me rich, but to me, the writing matters most!
You co-write the Apocalypse series with Laura Swift. How did this shared process begin and are there any benefits and/or challenges that come with working together? How do you ensure you remain on the same page as the story progresses?
Laura and I have been writing together since we were kids! We started off writing fanfiction together before we even knew what fanfiction was, and then we moved on to other things. We wrote plays, we wrote ‘novels’ and then, finally, we wrote Apocalypse.
Apocalypse was a fun project we started when we were seventeen. The original story featured our friends from college (most of whom are still main characters under different names…) and it was always meant to be a fun way to explore our creativity again! We never wanted it to be taken too seriously, though in our rewrites now we love to include queer stories, representation of mental health and deeper subjects alongside the daft one-liners and found family fun.
Generally, we tend to be on the same page when it comes to writing together (literally sometimes when we’re both hogging the Google Doc at once!) We don’t see each other often which can make it challenging to make our thoughts align, and we both have issues with timekeeping, but generally, it runs pretty smoothly! It’s definitely fun having a co-writer, and it takes off some of the pressure. When we’re writing Apocalypse, it feels like writing as a kid again, which is a feeling I’ve missed in my writing work!
Both Apocalypse and The Last Girls on Earth feature a strong cast of characters. Do you have a character you most identify with or enjoy developing in these works? Why?
In terms of Apocalypse, I would have to say that Laura and I both strongly identify with the characters we wrote based on ourselves. Heidi is based (very loosely!) on me, while Cassie is based on Laura to some extent. I see them as caricatures of the people we were ten years ago when we began writing it. It’s the same for some of the other characters such as Luke, who is based on a friend of ours. He’s not the same person, but there are so many elements to his character that can be pinned right back on him!
In The Last Girls on Earth, I definitely identify with all three of the main characters to some extent. Raven and Riley are complete opposites, but they both share a deep kind of love for the people around them which I can certainly relate to. As for Karissa, she has a lot of deep-rooted insecurity, a desperation to be liked, a fear that she won’t ever match up to the people around her. I think everyone can find a piece of themselves in her in that regard.
Can you tell us what’s in store for you next? More Apocalypse novellas or something new?
I have a lot of ideas and not enough hours in the day! The Last Girls on Earth is going to be a seven-part series that’ll certainly keep me busy. There will definitely be more Apocalypse books too. After that, I would maybe like to try something a little different. I have a thriller novel in mind that again will be very personal. I also have a sapphic new adult romance on the back burner that I wrote years ago, but it definitely needs some TLC to get it up to standard! It’s currently on Wattpad under the name A Week With Ray Summers!
Do you have a favourite movie, show, and/or book and has it influenced your own work at all? Bonus points if it’s queer!
The Hunger Games has always been a massive influence for me. I owe it to Suzanne Collins for making me fall back in love with writing and reading, so that’s definitely my biggest influence. I think The Walking Dead was my biggest influence for Apocalypse, but watching The Last of Us this year has also given me fresh ideas of how to approach my own series, especially with such a strong queer female lead in it!
Hayley Anderton is an author, reader, baker and crazy cat lady, born and raised in the North West of England. She strives for diversity in her writing, and believes that books can change the world. She graduated from John Moores University in 2017, and is now searching for her next adventure.
Apocalypse is a thrilling, fast-paced YA horror with a collection of interesting, lovable characters who are forced to work together to stay alive when a zombie outbreak hits their college. With moments of humour, grief, fear, and gore, it’s sure to keep you hooked from beginning to end. I don’t usually opt for zombie novels (because I am a scaredy cat) but I thoroughly enjoyed this and I’m so excited to delve further into this new world.
Characters introduced in Book 1 become even more interesting, well-rounded, and lovable as the books go on and relationships, friendships, and unlikely connections begin to develop in the midst of fatal danger. Not only that, but the plot thickens in this zombie-infested universe and I was on the edge of my seat wondering whether safety might ever await the two groups the story focuses on. There’s humour, moments of intimacy, and plenty of both deliciously predictable and spine-tingling unpredictable tension, with each character bringing something different to the table. And if they’re not enough, we also get a few new characters — some of whom can’t entirely be trusted yet.
If you’re looking for a short but fast-paced, richly-woven story packed with plenty of punches, this series is the one for you.
The Last Girls on Earth by Hayley Anderton is a dystopian YA story following three main characters as they navigate social and political upheaval in future Britain.
I loved every minute! Each of the girls brought something new to the story: a 17-year-old living in poverty who is responsible for taking care of her younger brother when their parents desert them, a young girl who fights to the death for the sake of shelter, and an officer fighting for their place of power in a military-esque institution. Not only were the stories completely diverse (and queer!!!), but the author told their story with distinct voices that enriched the characterisation wonderfully. I was so impressed with the way that, despite the first-person POV, I always knew who was speaking from the tone and language. Full of gritty action, suspense, pain, and the fight to stay afloat in a broken country, you absolutely want this book on your shell f. I can’t wait to see what comes next in this series after a dramatic cliffhanger — and Hayley Anderton is swiftly becoming one of my favourite authors!