Today we're excited to chat with Hayley Chewins (The Turnaway Girls)!

Read on for more about Hayley, her novel, plus a giveaway!




Meet Hayley Chewins!

Hayley Chewins grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, in a house full of books. A published poet, she studied classical voice before switching to a degree in English literature. The Turnaway Girls is her first novel. Hayley Chewins lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.


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Meet The Turnaway Girls!

Delphernia Undersea wants to sing. But everyone on Blightsend knows music belongs to the Masters — and girls with singing throats are swallowed by the sea.

On the strange, stormy island of Blightsend, twelve-year-old Delphernia Undersea has spent her whole life in the cloister of turnaway girls, hidden from sea and sky by a dome of stone and the laws of the island. Outside, the Masters play their music. Inside, the turnaway girls silently make that music into gold. Making shimmer, Mother Nine calls it. But Delphernia can’t make shimmer. She would rather sing than stay silent. When a Master who doesn’t act like a Master comes to the skydoor, it’s a chance for Delphernia to leave the cloister. Outside the stone dome, the sea breathes like a wild beast, the sky watches with stars like eyes, and even the gardens have claws. Outside, secrets fall silent in halls without sound. And outside, Delphernia is caught — between the island’s sinister Custodian and its mysterious Childer-Queen. Between a poem-speaking prince and a girl who feels like freedom. And in a debut that glimmers with hope and beauty, freedom — to sing, to change, to live — is precisely what’s at stake.


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~ Author Chat ~ 


YABC:  What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

The initial inspiration came from a question: what would it feel like to be a muse? To be expected to help make someone else’s art come to life, and to not have the space to make art yourself? It took me a few drafts to get to the image of girls turning music into gold.  


YABC:  Who is your favorite character in the book?

I love them all, but I really enjoyed writing the Childer-Queen because she’s really clever and a little scary—and she wears excellent dresses.


YABC:  Which came first, the title or the novel?

They came more or less at the same time. In my very first draft, I wrote a paragraph about how all the baby girls born in Blightsend were made to look into mirrors of polished gold; any girl who turned her face away from the mirror was sent to the cloister. Right away, I thought: they’re called turnaway girls because they turned away from the mirrors. And that became the title of the book.


YABC:  Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?

Everyone says this, but it’s so important to finish things. I always wanted to write a novel, but I was 23 before I actually finished a (very bad) manuscript. Finishing drafts is how you learn how to write drafts. Writing drafts is how you learn how to write a book. It’s not easy, but it can be done if you have enough gumption and stubbornness.


YABC:  What do you like most about the cover of the book?

I adore the whole thing, which was designed and illustrated by the incredible Sarah J. Coleman. But if I had to choose one detail, I would say the golden tree that surrounds Delphernia. I love how it sums up the plot and themes of THE TURNAWAY GIRLS so perfectly.


YABC:  What new release book are you looking most forward to?

Oh, there are so many! MUSE OF NIGHTMARES by Laini Taylor, SAWKILL GIRLS by Claire Legrand, THE WAY PAST WINTER by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, THE SPINNER OF DREAMS by K.A Reynolds, THE EVERLASTING ROSE by Dhonielle Clayton, THE BONE GARDEN by Heather Kassner, and I CAN MAKE THIS PROMISE by Christine Day, to name a few!


YABC:  What was your favorite book in 2017?

This is a really difficult question! I’ll go with STRANGE THE DREAMER by Laini Taylor. I love her lush prose and mysterious worlds. I would read anything she wrote. I also loved RACE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA by Lindsay Eagar and THE DOLLMAKER OF KRAKOW by R.M. Romero—both intricate, challenging, beautifully crafted middle grade books.


YABC:  What’s up next for you?

I’m writing another middle grade fantasy about magical girls with secrets, which I’m planning on submitting to my editor at the end of October. I’m also working on two other secret projects: a MG fantasy and a YA fantasy.



YABC:  Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: drafting or revising?

I love both. I love drafting for the thrill of discovery, and for how it sometimes feels like being swept up in a vivid dream. I love revising because I love making things better, having material to mold and polish, and playing with language—making it shine and leap and shimmer.





The Turnaway Girls 

By: Hayley Chewins

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Release Date: October 9th, 2018






Three winners will each receive a copy of The Turnaway Girls (Hayley Chewins) ~ US Only 

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