Fairyloot Exclusive Feb 2018: The Hazel Wood

**The interview is included in the monthly FairyScoop sent with every Fairyloot box

What inspired you to write THE HAZEL WOOD?

The book is informed by my obsession with fairy tales, classic portal fiction, and the awesome mashup of the contemporary world and old magic found in Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy. I’ve also never really stopped thinking about an article I read more than a decade ago, on “hinterland” as a mystical term for the unknown wilds of the north. I’ve wanted to capture the feeling that word gives me in a book ever since.

Describe THE HAZEL WOOD in 5 words.

Delirious contemporary fairy-tale noir.

What was your favorite part to write in THE HAZEL WOOD?

There are parts in the second half of the book – which I designed as a precipitous descent into fairyland – that I had so. much. FUN writing, but to be more specific than that would mean spoilers. So I’ll just say, the weird stuff. My favorite thing to write is the weird stuff.

What are some of your writing habits?

Here’s a dorky but satisfying thing I like to do: light a scented candle while I work on a particular project, in the hopes that I’ll develop a scent memory for the feeling of that book. And it works! The Hazel Wood took long enough to finish that I had switch candles midstream, but I still have wax left on two of my works in progress: Christmas Tree and Cedar. Other than that, I like to have everything I need close at hand so I don’t ave any reason to pause and get up: tea, lip balm, etc. It’s the worst to wreck your writing flow just because your throat is dry.

Did you have to do any kind of special research?

Only if you count reading as research, which I do. I always, always read when I’m writing (because to go a day without reading is too dark a fate to consider), and while 90% of my brain is swept into the story, 10% of it is watching how different authors do what they do: manage the dialogue, the twist, the shifts in tone, the big reveal, the love scene, and so on and so on. The Hazel Wood is my debut, so it’s fair to say it’s the product of everything I’ve ever read, but the books that inspired it most directly include Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy, Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow Bird, Catherine Valente’s Deathless and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland, and the uncanny short fiction of Kelly Link.

Other than Alice, who is your favorite character?

Janet is the only character who shares my Hogwarts house (Ravenpuff), I love Audrey more than I expected to when I met her, Ella and I definitely like the same music, and Finch and I share a lot: curiosity, an inward-looking nature, a tendency to fangirl over something obscure that we decide is ours and ours alone. But if I had to name just one favorite, I’d have to say Finch.

Did you listen to music whilst you wrote? If so, what kind?

Parts of the book were written at a cafe, to the tune of whatever the baristas chose to play, but mostly it was written in my apartment with a white noise app on. My brain has a tendency to sing along with any music I try to play.