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An Interview with Hetty Waite

It is my great pleasure to welcome debut author Hetty Waite to the blog today to discuss her new novel, Mutate being published by SpellBound Books this summer. She signed with SpellBound Books Ltd after meeting the directors at The Writers' Summer School at Swanwick last year. Welcome Hetty, tell us about your book and your writing.

What inspired you to write your most recent book?


In March 2020, I found myself in Lockdown with a three-month-old baby. Up until that point, I’d been happily living my best life with café brunches, baby classes and other delightfully lovely maternity leave things. Being suddenly confined to the house with a newborn felt pretty lonely in comparison. It did, however, give me the impetus to stop procrastinating and finally try to write a novel – something I’d been threatening to do for years, but never got time to actually get around to whilst working full time as an English teacher. So, alongside country walks and precious family time at home, I started The Chromosome Trilogy Book 1: Mutate during nap times and broken nights of sleep. It really helped give my brain an outlet and made me feel I might actually achieve a long-held dream.


Even though the books are set in a dystopian world which has been changed by the effects of a virus, I had the initial idea of a disease that only affects the male Y chromosome before Covid. I think some of my ideas and imagery must have been influenced by the real-life pandemic though, even if only sub-consciously.

 

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?


Mutate is narrated from several different viewpoints, so it’s hard to choose between them. Cara, the female protagonist, is heroic, strong-minded and nurturing. I love the fact that she’s a strong leader, but still ultimately driven by love. Brown, the male protagonist, is more of an underdog. In a society where he’s treated like a slave, he’s fiercely loyal to both his friends and Cara. As a true Brit, I can’t help but root for the underdog! The final first-person narrator is Myla – Cara’s sister and the villain of the story. I definitely enjoyed the contrast of writing from her perspective, and who honestly doesn’t love a good baddie?!

 

What was the first piece you had published?


This is my first! I think like a lot of writers, I’ve found it hard to share my work with other people. It’s far easier to give in to ‘imposter syndrome’ and tell yourself it’s not good enough. The more you share, the easier it gets, though, so I do write articles for Boom magazine in Derbyshire fairly regularly and am looking forward to the release of Mutate on the 12th August, despite the accompanying nervous tension!


Do you have another story planned or in progress? When can we expect to see that?


I’ve just sent the draft for The Chromosome Trilogy Book 2: Evolve to my beta readers, so I’m hoping with a bit more polishing it won’t be too long before it’s ready to send to my publishers, SpellBound Books Ltd. I expect it will be out next year. Then I’ll be moving on to the final part of the trilogy!



Who is your favourite author?


There are lots of authors that I love and eagerly anticipate their next release. Marian Keyes, whose books are like catching up with an old friend; the unputdownable Strike novels by Robert Galbraith; anything by Kate Atkinson, Maggie O’Farrell or C J Samson. I really enjoyed Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow recently, so I’m looking forward to reading more by Gabrielle Zevin.


In the Young Adult genre, I think Patrick Ness is fabulous – More Than This is a brilliant book. I also like Frances Hardinge – she’s a really interesting writer.


What do you like to do when you’re not planning or writing your next book?


I have a four-year-old so a lot of my time is spent entertaining her, with lots of craft activities, days out and sports clubs. I like walking so try to make time to take the dog for long country walks. Travelling, eating out, bingeing a great tv drama and swimming also count as some of my favourite things.


When did you know you wanted to write novels?


I’ve always harboured the ambition to write – it’s been my dream job even when I’ve been making no effort to make it come true. I don’t know why it has always appealed so much – I’m guessing it’s just the desire to create and share stories and communicate with other people.


Do you write in other genres?


I do enjoy writing Young Adult fiction – I think it gives you a freedom to create a fresh new voice and tackle interesting themes. I’d love to write a thriller, though, so hopefully I will pursue this in the future.


What do you like most about being an author?


I’m a huge book lover. I always have (at least one) book on the go. Books and stories are a way of finding escape and freedom. Writing is the same, except you’re in control. This can be scary, but is also so exhilarating. I also like the fact that my office can be a local coffee shop!

 

Do you have a specific routine for writing?  Is there a special place or particular tool you use?


When I’m drafting, I try and get a bit written everyday, even if it’s only for five minutes just before bed. This often turns into longer, though, probably because it’s often the only peaceful time of day in my house!

 

What advice do you have for other writers?


Be resilient. This is often the greatest challenge!


Just get started. When I start a story, I often only have a germ of an idea and a sense of the character. I find a plot develops quite organically and often goes in a direction I wasn’t expecting. Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts and get something down – you can always improve it later.


If your book were to be made into an Audiobook, who would you choose to read it?


This is tricky! Maybe Maisie Williams (Arya Stark from Game of Thrones) for Cara – she’s used to playing a powerful, unconventional female role.

 

If your book were to be made into a movie, who would you like to play the main character?


I think someone like Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven from Stranger Things) would make a great Cara. Bella Ramsey (Ellie in The Last of Us) is extremely talented – she would make a formidable Myla.


I’ll have to ask my students and nieces for their opinions – they’ll have a much better knowledge of young actors than I will!

The Blurb


In the city of Galex, all that matters is your genetics. Living with a virus that only affects the Y chromosome, men – Ys – are at risk of death or mutation and considered too dangerous to live freely. Women – Xs- rule the city.

 

Cara must navigate a world where the one she loves is considered a deadly enemy. With her sister Myla in charge of Galex and driven by a hatred of Ys, Cara has a dangerous secret.  If discovered, it will not only destroy her relationship with her sister, but will threaten the life of the Y she loves.

 

Brown has spent his life enslaved, knowing he could mutate at any moment. After seeing his best friend killed, he volunteers for a deadly mission.  He is soon to face a difficult decision: protect Cara and sacrifice her sister, or betray his fellow Ys and place all his loyalty in the hands of an X.

The Author


Hetty Waite lives in Derbyshire with her husband, daughter and cavapoo.

 

She is always looking to get lost in a good book and has spent years passing on her love of reading by teaching English to teenagers. Whilst no longer in the classroom, (and definitely not missing the marking), she is keen to continue helping young people engage with literature.

 

Nowadays, when not pandering to the whims of her demanding 4-year-old or tutoring GCSE students, she finds time to write YA fiction.

 

The Chromosome Trilogy Book 1: Mutate is her first novel.



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