Interview with Hayley Stone, Author of Machinations
26 Jul 2016
What can you tell us about your new release, Machinations?
Machinations is a story about expectations, about the struggle to live up to your own as well as those placed upon you by other people. It’s also a story about killer robots. Sci-fi, hoorah!
When I set out to write this book years ago, I initially envisioned it as a short story, but within a few pages, I knew it would become much bigger. Rhona Long sprang almost fully formed from the very first line, and she commands every page of this novel. That’s why, in addition to being a story about expectations and homicidal machines, Machinations is also a story about humanity. In this case, an ordinary woman pushing past fear in order to take back her life. The fact that she just so happens to be a clone adds further intrigue to the whole ordeal.
What books are currently on your night stand?
At the time of this interview, my night stand is stacked with an embarrassing amount of books because I can’t just read one book at a time. The ones presently at the top are The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin, Pride’s Spell by Matt Wallace, and The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers by Thomas Fleming.
If one of those books seems not like the other, it is because I, too, have fallen prey to the Hamilton musical, and like many have gone to history books to continue feeding my addiction. (I regret nothing.)
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
The characters, definitely. The human psyche is such a vast, unfathomable entity, and I love exploring the complexities that exist within people and between them. Writing also offers the chance to step outside one’s self, to experience new and sometimes impossible things.
Perhaps most importantly, writing provides an opportunity for empathy: to view the world through another’s perspective. Writing, to me, is often about shedding fear and reaching for the truth. Sometimes I get there, and it’s wonderful and eye-opening; sometimes I’m left reaching for the shadow of the thing. Either way, it’s always an interesting challenge.
On a more base level, I adore sentence construction. There’s nothing quite so satisfying as getting a sentence just right. This also explains why, in editing, I enjoy line edits so much!
In addition to writing novels, you also write poetry. Do you prefer one over the other?
I’m definitely a novelist first and foremost, but I wouldn’t say I prefer one over the other. Rather, I feel my love of poetry and prose inform one another. In many ways, poetry has actually improved my novel-writing, honing my ability to recognize and utilize rhythm when it comes to prose.
BAM. You’re a superhero. What’s your superpower?
Flying. Wait! No. Time travel with no negative repercussions. They could call me Self-Consistency Woman! Able to travel in time without causing a single paradox! (Bonus points if you get this reference.)
What’s rocking your world this month?
I just finished reading Kameron Hurley’s The Geek Feminist Revolution which was absolutely fantastic. I firmly believe Hurley is an important voice for this generation of SFF writers; she not only tells it how it is, but points out what changes need to be made to the status quo. Highly, highly recommended.
What scene in Machinations was your favorite to write?
There’s a scene about midway through the book where the main character, Rhona, calls her former lover out on some choices he’s made (I can’t give specifics because SPOILERS). Suffice to say, it’s a very charged, emotional scene, and a turning point in their relationship. I love writing those raw moments between characters. More than that, I see it too often in fiction where female characters seem to roll over and accept a male character’s decision, especially when he’s their love interest—this scene was a way for me to reverse that trope.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
Yes—two, as a matter of fact!
The first is an anonymous quote I’ve pinned beside my desk: “Remember why you started.” When things get tough, I always try and return to the heart of an idea, the spark that first gave it life, and revive the passion I had when I started writing.
As for my motto, I’ve borrowed it from my favorite historical figure, Anne Boleyn. At one point, in response to her negative reception as queen, she changed her personal motto to Ainsi sera groigne qui groigne which roughly translates to “Grumble all you like, this is how it’s going to be.”
It was basically the Tudor equivalent of flipping her critics the bird, and I think it serves as a good reminder to never let the haters get you down.
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