Here the year 2020 is coming nearer its close, and I’ve had the privilege of sharing some great new books with you over the months! That trend is not stopping yet! This has definitely been a good year for books, if nothing else. Wouldn’t you agree?
Well, Emily Hayse, author of Seventh City & The Last Atlantean is back again with more great fiction for us! And I’m ecstatic that I get to have her here on the blog today to talk about her newest book:
The Rivers Lead Home & Other Stories
Isn’t that cover gorgeous?! I only wish I’d been the one to design it, but seriously, I love it. The details are magnificent and the color scheme is *mwah* perfect!
(This interview was fun because it’s actually a converstation we had on Instagram, and you can find Emily Hayse @songofheroes)
Rachael: Emily! Hi! Thank you so much for being willing to talk books with me today! Of course, since there’s a lot of writers around here as well as readers, I think we’re all pretty happy to talk books any chance we get! Of course, this is an interview…
Emily Hayse: I do like interviews though.
Rachael: Oh good! This’ll be a bit of both then! You mentioned the other day on IG how your standalone books are usually just that–stand alones without sequels–but there is that rare world that gives you a deeper look. That led you to this compilation of short stories, The Rivers Lead Home, right?
Emily Hayse: Yes! Most standalones I may have minor curiosity but no real desire to explore further. I feel like it can be unnecessary or even compromise the world a little. But after so many readers asking questions or talking about what they wanted to see more of, the inspiration sort of grew slowly.
Rachael: That’s so great! Was there one question in particular that just wouldn’t let you walk away?
Emily Hayse: Some of the characters came with strong backstories, or with people who had known them a long time, and the events of Seventh City put them through a crucible as it were, but you got the impression that what you saw in that book wasn’t always what that person had been like, or that their life before had prepared them for that moment, and that made me increasingly curious.
Rachael: I experienced that with my fantasy series. Sometimes the deeper story is irresistible. What was something you discovered about one of the characters you didn’t know ahead of time? Something surprising or maybe difficult?
Emily Hayse: There is a strange, minor character in Seventh City, a young hermit who they encounter, who likes to be alone with his dogs. I knew I wanted to write a story about him, and I even had a title, but I didn’t have a clue what the story would be about. What resulted was not only a past that surprised me, but a rather moving little story about trauma.
Rachael: Aww, that’s great! I love dogs and could easily put myself in the place of a character who prefers their company to that of humans. This character’s trauma, did it mirror anything you’ve experienced in your own life or something you have seen in the world around you?
Emily Hayse: Specifically, it didn’t mirror anything in my own experience, though I share Maki’s experience of childhood loss, but I had someone close who read his story and had experienced similar trauma, and she said that related to it and it even brought her to tears.
Rachael: Bringing tears and laughter to readers are some of the things I hope for when writing. You know you’ve hit on something real then I think. Would you agree? Which story in the book do you think gave you the most amusement? And to follow up on that, how did that story end up in the book?
Emily Hayse: Yes! That’s a very good way of putting it! It is always a good sign if your readers are laughing or crying (as much as I hate to make them cry) because it means they connected with something there. I wrote one truly humorous story in this book, entitled “The Impossible Luck of Epirvikk Heft” and it still brings me amusement. The two characters came to me as the joint proprietors of a location that was in Seventh City (though they weren’t) and one is an absolute straight man with a hint of danger to him and the other is a funny little older man who is constantly thinking of new business ventures to entangle his partner in. Their dynamic was way too much fun. From the moment I stumbled across the two of them I knew they had to be part of the collection.
Rachael: Oh my goodness, I can’t wait to read about them! I love dynamics like that. Now, I haven’t read Seventh City yet (it’s waiting for me on my virtual shelf!), but I’m assuming Maki encounters these fellas along the way. What was her impression of them? How did they connect to her story?
Emily Hayse: You never see the two of them interact with Maki on the page, at the time of Seventh City, I believe they both there, but Maki does spend some time at both of their establishments, the Kaquom Trading Company and The Pick and Collarbone. They sold the army (or more like Captain Innes) the goods to push north after winter set in.
Rachael: These side characters can be so fun to explore. I have an inn owner in my first book that is quirky and fun who I’d like to spend some more time with. What was it about Maki’s story that first inspired the world of Seventh City and created these characters?
Emily Hayse: Honestly, I think the world came first. I had come off of following the Iditarod, which is a sled dog race in Alaska, and I was reading a book about conquistadors searching for El Dorado and as there was a gold rush in the Yukon once, I thought it would be neat to have an El Dorado legend set in the far north instead. And then Maki came into the picture with her stubborn hate for the people who had invaded her country, and she gets swept up when her brother is captured and has to buy his life off by saying he can lead them to the city of gold. And once I get a main concept like that, the other characters just fall into place.
Rachael: That’s so excellent! What a stellar mashup. I can imagine a lot of colorful characters forming in a world like that. 😄 As a final question, I’m curious, with this world where we can search for an Alaskan El Dorado, complete with sled dogs, dangerous shifting ice flows and the threat of avalanche, if you could be in any of these stories, which would you choose and who would you be?
Emily Hayse: Oh, that is a hard decision! I probably would choose “The Rivers Lead Home,” in Maki’s place, because I would love to have an idyllic summer with an older brother, or else “Follow the Wind,” in Hanni’s place, as I’d love to have a guy like Spruce in my corner.
Rachael: I can’t wait to read this and find out more! Thanks so much for answering my questions, Emily. I love chatting about books with their authors. There’s something in it that really starts to bring the stories to life. I also think it’s fun, how as an author who mainly writes standalones, that Seventh City’s adventure and heart-wrenching journey stuck with you enough to inspire a deeper dive in that wild Alaskan world! Okay, so maybe one more question… What is next in your writing life? 😄
Emily Hayse: I am currently drafting a fantasy western trilogy based on Arthurian legends and the first book, These War-Torn Hands, is slated for release in June 2021.
Rachael: Eek! That’s so exciting! Now I promised that was the last question before the last question, so l’ll refrain from another, but I’ll definitely be on the lookout for that book too! Congrats, Emily! Thank you so much for this. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation about these books. It feels like we’ve barely scratched the surface, but I will definitely be reading Seventh City & The Rivers Lead Home and Other Stories before June. 😁 Thank you for spending some time with us today!
Emily Hayse: Thank you! I enjoyed talking to you so much!
“You see, Maki, that’s the thing about the rivers. They’re like the blood-lines in your hands…. If you lose your way, follow the river downstream and you’ll always find your way back.”
In The Rivers Lead Home, Emily Hayse explores new frontiers, digging deeper into the land and the characters first introduced in her award-winning novel Seventh City. This collection of twelve short stories features beloved characters like Maki, Tsanu, Willow, Ransom, Laramie, Rutter, and Jeremiah, as well as introducing new characters like Spruce Norman, Mollie at Heart’s End, and the mysteriously lucky dog-driver Epirvikk Heft. From lazy nights at the Pick and Collarbone to dog-races on the frozen tundra to the adventures of a young mapmaker in the jungles of Havast, these stories are full of laughter, surprises, brushes with glory, and heartwarmingly ordinary humanity.
Emily’s books are available now, including The Rivers Lead Home and Other Stories!
And it’s easy to head to Goodreads and put it on your TBR right now.
Find Emily Hayse on Social Media:
Thank you so much for hanging out with Emily and me today! If you have any comments or questions, drop them below!