Hello Bookworms, I’m delighted to be speaking with Hayley, and bringing this interview to my blog! Hayley’s debut novel; Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf, is a powerful and stunning novel that you should ALL check out. Today, we chat about Hayley’s favorite novels, how she came up with the idea for this novel and how it changed her for the better.
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary // Publishing Date: October 6, 2020
Content Warning: Sexual assault, ED, Mental illness, Trauma, PTSD, Bullying, Victim blaming
Ali Greenleaf and Blythe Jensen couldn’t be more different. Ali is sweet, bitingly funny, and just a little naive. Blythe is beautiful, terrifying, and the most popular girl in school. They’ve never even talked to each other, until a party when Ali decides she’ll finally make her move on Sean Nessel, her longtime crush, and the soccer team’s superstar. But Sean pushes Ali farther than she wants to go. When she resists–he rapes her.
Blythe sees Ali when she runs from the party, everyone sees her. And Blythe knows something happened with Sean, she knows how he treats girls. Even so, she’s his best friend, his confidant. When he begs her to help him, she can’t resist.
So Blythe befriends Ali in her attempt to make things right with Sean, bringing Ali into a circle of ruthless popular girls, and sharing her own dark secrets. Despite the betrayal at the heart of their relationship, they see each other, in a way no one ever has before.
Erin : Can you tell us a bit about Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf?
Hayley : Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf is about a high school junior named Ali. She’s a sweet girl. Has a best friend named Sammi. Lives with her dad. Mom’s in recovery living in the desert. And one day, Ali goes to a party to meet up with Sean Nessel. The hottest guy in school. She drinks with him. She goes upstairs with him. She takes some clothes off. But then she’s had enough. Except Sean doesn’t let her go. He rapes her. After Sean realizes he did something horribly wrong, he gets his best female friend, Blythe Jensen to talk to Ali to try to cover it up. Blythe is mesmerized by Sean like everyone else is. It’s like she’s groomed by society to trust whatever he says. He’s so handsome, so charming, so manipulative… Surprisingly Ali and Blythe become friends and discover that they have more in common than they realize.
Erin : Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote?
Hayley : I always wrote small stories and plays growing up. But when I was 17, I failed typing in high school. And I know that sounds ridiculous because it is. Who fails typing? But I was a bit of an anti-authoritarian back then and I thought learning how to type was absurd. Why did we need an entire class on it? Needless to say I had to go to summer school for typing. Yes, really. But during summer school I wrote my first book. The teacher allowed us to type anything we want as long as we were typing. Every night I’d go home with about 20 pages and hand them over to my best friend so she could read them. I loved that book.
Erin : What are your favourite novels?
Hayley : I love Megan Abbott’s novels: Dare Me, Give Me Your Hand and The Fever. I’m always re-reading her work. I’m drawn to novels about women and girls who are descending into madness, or coming out of trauma. I love Courtney Summers’s Sadie. Love Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow. I loved The Perfect Nanny by Leïla Slimani. Looker by Laura Sims. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell.
Erin : Do you use any special writing software? If so what is it, and what are a few of your favorite perks of it?
Hayley : Yes! I use Scrivener. I break down all of my chapters and then further break down sections inside the chapters. Otherwise I can’t remember what’s happening. What I love most about Scrivener is if each chapter is in a different folder, you can move them around easily. You can’t do that in word. I also love split screen so you can see two pages or chapters in front of you at once. Since I’m a journalist I write articles in Scrivener too. I can’t live without it.
Erin : What resources did you use to improve your writing, and are there any you suggest for aspiring writers?
Hayley : Reading is probably the most important resource writers have. Read everything you can get your hands on. Read articles about writing. Read essays about writing. I also like to have a few people that I trust completely. I take feedback on the chin. I want my readers to be very honest with me. You have to have thick skin. It’s very good to get feedback, but it has to be from people you trust.
Erin : Tell us about one of the people at the center of this book, and what makes them interesting.
Hayley : But I would say that Blythe fascinates me. She is such a smart person, so sharp. But she’s also completely unaware of her actions. She was somewhat based on a real person. There was a rape case in a town a few miles away from where I grew up back in the 80’s. (It happens to be the town I live in now.) A group of privileged athletes raped a mentally handicapped girl. One of the athlete’s girlfriends befriended the girl to try to convince her not to tell. I always wondered about that girlfriend. How seeped in cultural misogyny was she that she needed to go that far? What was her story? Was she even aware of her actions? I’m drawn to flawed characters, the characters who are damaged and angry and imperfect. They deserve love too.
About Hayley :
Hayley Krischer has been an award-winning journalist for over 20+ years.
She is a contributing writer for the New York Times, where she has covered feminist roller skaters, Instagram obsessed moms, profiled Gabrielle Union, Tatum O’Neal, and S.E. Hinton.
She has also written for many publications about women and teenage girls including Marie Claire, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Lenny Letter, and the Hairpin.
Her YA debut, SOMETHING HAPPENED TO ALI GREENLEAF will be released in fall 2020 from Razorbill.
Hayley received her MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. Her first newspaper job was as an editorial assistant at the Boston Globe. She reads tarot cards