Stephen Hayes lives and writes in Melbourne, Australia, and has a distinctly ‘Aussie’ style of writing. Having been born partially blind in 1986 and lost his limited vision in 2000, he started writing stories at the age of eight, completing his first novella in Braille at the age of fourteen and by sixteen, had completed the first draft of what would become his debut publication: The Seventh Sorcerer.
‘The Magic Crystals’ is Hayes’ main project: A story of youth, laughter, pain, romance, heartbreak, good and evil, life and death, power and magic. Not afraid to speak his mind, and prepared for whatever consequences come of it, he doesn’t mind stepping outside social convention and stating uncomfortable and controversial truths about today’s society, particularly where teenagers are concerned. As the theme of power is explored, the books stray into political, psychological and philosophical debates, making ‘The Magic Crystals’ an odd combination of both light and deep reading.
Congratulations on the release of ‘The Magic Crystals’ books. When did you start writing and what got you into fantasy fiction?
Firstly, thank you for having me on here. I’ve been writing in some form or other since I was eight years old, back before I even knew how to correctly spell the word ‘said’. At first, my content was determined by how many pages I could staple together, and then later how many I could bind. It was when I was a teenager that I really began putting properly developed plots together, and I wrote both The Seventh Sorcerer and Rock Haulter while I was still in high school. As for my choice of genre, it was never something I actually considered; I’ve always relied on a pretty wacky imagination to provide inspiration, so fantasy was the logical direction for me.
Did you have a mentor who encouraged you?
I’ve always had people around me encouraging me to do my best, particularly my family and my teachers at school. I would say that my dad has probably been my greatest mentor though; he’s a great writer in his own right, and he was the one who persuaded me to chase publication of my books.
Did you have any struggles or difficulties when you started writing?
A couple. Firstly, despite being a writer, I’m really not much of a reader of books. When I was partially blind as a child, I could read both braille and large print, but both only at a snail’s pace. It made reading very difficult, which was a shame because I liked stories, but only really got them when they were read to me. On the plus side, it meant that my ideas were probably more original than most writers. Secondly, I’ve always been a phonetic speller, and to this day rely on spell check and having my work proof read for spelling mistakes. That’s always going to be a problem for me, I think, but the more practice I’ve had, the better I’ve beecum.
What was your inspiration for ‘The Magic Crystals’?
The series has been an accumulation of ideas spanning two entire decades—most of my life, in fact. It started with the games I used to play as a child with my sister, and some of the characters in the series were based on those which we created. In those games, however, the magic only belonged to certain people and there was no way of changing it. So the first draft of ‘The Magic Crystals’ books explored a situation in which the magic could be stolen, and that eventually became the central theme throughout the series: The concept of power, how it can be shifted from person to person, what it can do to different types of people, and how it should be used.
Many writers experience a vague anxiety before they sit down to right. Can you relate to this?
Up until recently, no. While I was writing the first three books in the series, they were private works which I hadn’t shown to anybody, and for several years intended not to. Writing was a release for me, so rather than creating anxiety, it did the opposite. It’s been a different story more recently, but it’s still not too bad. It takes a lot of pressure off if you can accept that there’s no such thing as a perfect piece of fiction, so when I write, my only goal is to just get my ideas down and then worry about making it readable later.
Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?
Sadly, no to both. When I started out, I just wrote whenever I could—whenever I had time, and whenever my mind was in the right place. Sometimes, it’s easier to write in the morning after I’ve been awake for a couple of hours, and other times it’s easier to write later on, after I’ve been using the analytical part of my brain all day and my creative side is fresh. Given that I’ve been able to finish five considerably long books and get almost halfway into a sixth, I’ve pretty much given up on having a schedule; if this works well enough for me, I may as well keep it up. So I guess you could say, I’m pretty disciplined at being undisciplined.
How do you celebrate the completion of a novel?
I don’t. Yes, I suppose finishing writing a book is an achievement, but in the minutes after you finish writing a book which you’ve been working on for more than a year, the immediate feeling is kind of hollow. It hasn’t been too bad for me so far, since the series is still going, but I’ll probably bawl like a baby when I finish the last ‘Magic Crystals’ book and have to say goodbye to all my characters.
How do you define success?
That’s a very difficult question to answer, and the more I’ve thought about it, the more I think that it all depends on the person asking the question and what it is that they’re trying to achieve. A successful writer could be a person who is able to make a living off their writing alone, or it could be a writer who is always able to find the perfect word to put into any context, even if that same writer doesn’t ever get published. I would consider myself a successful writer if I can do a bit of both, because the one thing that both of those types of writers have in common is that they are clearly able to connect with people reading their work. Maybe that’s what it all comes down to.
What do you love most about the writer’s life?
Watching it all come together. Another hobby I have besides writing is computer programming, and one of the best things about that is watching the computer do exactly what you’ve told it to according to the code you entered. Writing a book is a bit similar in that as you write, it gets longer and longer as though you’re putting pieces of a puzzle on a board one at a time, and only when it’s done do you get to see the entire picture. It’s the gradual process I enjoy most, though.
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?
Yes, my website is at www.themagiccrystals.com. Anyone interested should go check it out; it’s got the first three chapters of The Seventh Sorcerer available to read for free as well as excerpts, character profiles, news about upcoming releases and links to follow me on other social media platforms.
Where is your book available?
All the usual places: Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, etc., though at this stage, they are only available in electronic format. A couple of links to purchase directly where you can also choose your preferred format:
The Seventh Sorcerer: https://www.ebookit.com/books/0000002323/The-Seventh-Sorcerer.html
Also keep an eye (or should I say ear) out for both books to soon be available in audio format.
Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
There may be only two books so far, but I have already written five and plan to write another two, perhaps more if I have trouble working my way to the finish line. ‘The Magic Crystals’ is an epic tail so there’s no harm in getting in on the ground floor. Book three, Hunt and Power, is scheduled to be published in mid-2014, so why not go check out the website above and see what it’s all about? Cheers, and thanks for reading.