Nanowrimo Spotlight: Alice Hayes


Good evening! I’m not quite sure how many more spotlights there will be this Nano season, but I’d like to thank all of my readers and my spotlight volunteers! Tonight I have an interview with Alice. Alice, how many times have you participated in Nanowrimo?


This is my fourth NaNo, and – *fingers crossed* – I’ve been successful every year so far. My favorite memories are the “NaNoIsms” that creep in. Basically, I lose my mind every November. In 2011’s NaNo, I was writing a scene where two teenage characters attend a Bonfire Night celebration, and I put the word help into a sentence without even realizing it. I think it was my subconscious saying “no, really. Help me”. In last year’s NaNo, I was sprinting with some other Wrimos and said something like “15 minute sleep at 10:00, who’s in?” instead of ’15 minute sprint’. But really, for me. NaNoWriMo is about the camaraderie. Knowing that there are others out there doing the same crazy thing as you.

What are you writing about this year?
Say Nothing is a young adult novel set in Northern Ireland during The Troubles. Beginning in 1969, it chronicles Catholic Moira Heaney’s transformation from unaffected, blase 15-year-old to political activist. The title is taken from a Seamus Heaney poem, Whatever You Say, Say Nothing, as well as the general fear during The Troubles that talk could be costly; that loose lips were deadly.

What is your favorite movie – you have to pick just one!
Just one? V for Vendetta. It ticks all the boxes for me: creepy dystopian government; beautiful visuals; blood and gore; and vengeance.

What advice would you give to all your fellow Wrimos?
The forums are one of the best resources for you NaNo. I was surprised recently to learn that in a Facebook group of around 200 local Wrimos, there weren’t very many who use the forums. Whether you’re looking for research or whether you need motivation, you can always find what you’re looking for there. I also highly recommend sprints and word wars if you feel completely stuck.

Sneaky Ninja question! Do you have any pet peeves when you write?
I hate, hate, hate when I ‘come up with’ a perfect name for my character, only to realize that it’s not a name I’ve created but the name of a celebrity or something. Worse still is when you actually do create the perfect name for a character, and then someone with that name emerges and becomes famous. Years ago, I wrote a young adult novel in which the main characters were a couple named Kate and Will. A certain high-profile royal couple has sort of claimed that name pairing now….


When I write, nothing else exists. I write to release whatever is inside of me, whether that be happiness, fear, stress, or pain. I write when I am having bad days, and I write when I am having good days.

Sometimes, on my bad days, I sit at my laptop like a thing possessed, churning out words and letting the pain flow from inside me, scared of what will happen if I stop. My writing is disconnected and choppy: scattered and fragmented, like my mind. On good day, the writing has a better flow. It has poetry. It sings.

When I write, there is nothing on my mind but my characters, my setting, my dialogue. In a world where everything and everyone is in a rush, when I write, the world slows down. In a world where everything is loud, I find a bit of peace. My thoughts are clearer, my head is calmer, and I float on this high that comes from taking an idea in your head and putting it into words. Doubts are silenced. Pain is pushed aside.

Everything goes quiet, and I like it that way.

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