Last week I shared my review of the fantasy book Awakening Shadows (see it here), and this week I have the honor of interviewing the author Sydney Hawthorn! Residing in Cleveland, Ohio, Hawthorn works for Stitch Fix. In addition to being an awesomely talented writer, Hawthorn is an actress. She works for and helps manage a character entertainment company where she goes to children’s parties and events dressed as princesses and other characters. Hawthorn also enjoys hiking and exploring – unless it is humid (girl, same). Fun fact: Hawthorn can sing the alphabet backwards!
Read our full interview below!
Q) How long have you been writing?
A) Oh gosh. This story, or in general? I started working on the very first drafts of Awakening Shadows when I was probably 8? (like story and concept wise) but I wrote the first draft when I was 12! I’ve always been a writer at heart 🙂
Q) Why do you write?
A) I write because I enjoy it. I’ve always been a creative soul, so it’s therapeutic for me! But I also write because I want to bring joy to those who might read my stories. Because I want to share my stories, which are all so near and dear to my heart with the world. I don’t expect everyone to love it as much as I do, but for those who do find value in my stories, I’m so grateful for their support and love! All in all, because I find it brings joy to others, and there is nothing more rewarding than being the reason someone else smiles. 🙂
Q) What is your favorite genre to read? To write?
A) Fantasy through and through!! I am forever a die-hard fantasy queen. I do also enjoy sci-fi, romance, and thrillers, but I will almost never turn away a fantasy book!
Q) What is your favorite book and why?
A) This might be one of the hardest questions I’ve ever been asked. The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce will forever be my favorite series, but The Chronicles of Narnia holds an eternally special place in my heart. I also adore all the messages in To Kill a Mockingbird, which was one of the only books I actually enjoyed reading in school! Then as far as fantasy goes, Throne of Glass has been my biggest inspiration for The Navarre Chronicles, and I also adore Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse world!!
Q) Who is your favorite author and why?
A) As I mentioned above, Tamora Pierce is an icon to me. I even got to meet her in high school, and it was such a magical experience!! I also really love Sarah Maas and Leigh Bardugo. 🙂
Q) Who is someone that inspires you? Non author wise? My mom. She’s never stopped believing in me, and pushing me to be my best self, and I am so so grateful to have her in my life. 🙂
Q) What inspired Awakening Shadows, the first book of the Navarre Chronicles?
A) I’ve talked about this on Instagram before, but this story started as a way for my voice to be heard and to show others feeling what I was that they weren’t alone. I was bullied in school as a kid, and I created Navarre as an imaginary world I could escape to with my imaginary friend, Max (now Quinn) where we could go on adventures. Awakening Shadows was originally called The Shadow, and it told the story of Max being accused of murdering his bully, and how he coped with that and learned to be a better person (even though the murder was an accident). Clearly it has evolved since, but I still like to think Awakening Shadows is the story of those who might struggle to find their true strength, and those who will do no matter what to find courage and goodness in a cruel world.
Q) Were there any books or stories that influenced the Navarre Chronicles?
A) Absolutely!! Throne of Glass and Alanna of Trebond’s journey to knighthood were both major influences to me!
Q) Evalyn was one of my favorite characters with her sass and determination – is she based on anyone you know in real life?
A) I try really hard not to base my characters off real people, save for a few. (Jenson is a literal incarnate of me, and it’s a bit terrifying even for me at times XD) but Evalyn is also a lot like me! Having gone through some extremely abusive relationships in my past, having a character who has been through so much trauma but still finds the strength to push on and live is something I cherish a lot, and so Evalyn is definitely a manifestation of that inner strength.
Q) Have you thought about writing a prequel featuring Dax?
A) *giggles* It is!! I actually have several prequel stories I’m planning to write. One, I’ve talked about on Instagram is currently titled #ProjectSunshineTears and is the backstory of Edan Stormwood (one of the witches introduced in Whispering Shadows) and the other three are prequel backstories for Dax, Fallon, and Aeron!! 🙂
Q) Can you give us any preview of what to expect in the sequel to Awakening Shadows?
A) Darkness, torture, and magic. Lots and lots of them. This series definitely gets progressively darker as it goes on, even though Awakening Shadows is only mildly dark for the YA genre. Book two, on the other hand, has a trigger warning for gore and violence, torture, and abuse as well as mild language. Readers can also expect to learn about some unanswered questions about certain character’s pasts and roles they play in the future (some expected, and others not so much) as well as an introduction to the witches mentioned in Awakening Shadows, whose allegiance nobody is certain of!! I’m so so excited to have Whispering Shadows in the hands of waiting readers!!
Q) I saw on your website that you are a freelance editor. What do you enjoy most about editing?
A) I love helping other writers bring their story to life! Helping other aspiring authors have the best story they can is something that I’ve always really enjoyed.
Q) You are an indie published author – can you tell readers about your experience? Do you have any advice for fellow indie authors?
A) Oh yes!! First and foremost, it’s a major trial and error type deal. I cannot stress enough: do your RESEARCH!! Because there’s so much information out there to take in and so many different ways to do things. What works for one person might now work for you and vise versa. Make a list of everything and decide what’s most important to you. DO NOT skimp on an editor. Make an author platform (I made my Instagram 2 years before I published so I could work up a following and build excitement for my book release!!). Have a website. One of the things I would also suggest, is leaving yourself PLENTY of wiggle room! I did, and I still felt rushed in the end!! Don’t get sucked into the “I need book merch hole” and if you do, find ways you can do it at a discounted price or save up for it!! Because those are expenses that build up and deter you from focusing on things like editing costs, cover designer costs, and other more important expenses. Another thing which I personally decided to do is pay for my own LLC!! Meaning I am now officially a business owner of my own publishing company. (and on the flip side, make sure you keep track of every single expense, because they do add up and you will need to file taxes for your expenses and income as an author!!) So many things, not enough time. While I am by no means an expert, I’m always willing to answer any questions!!
Follow Hawthorn on social media to keep up with her and her writing!
The Navarre Chronicles Goodreads page
Hawthorn’s website (with all information about her shop, signed copies, and more!!)
You can order a copy of Awakening Shadows directly from Hawthorn or get it on Amazon here.