Series: Hayven #1
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy
There is no chosen one in this story.
Avery Gray was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and happened to make a decision that altered her future forever. It happens to all of us every day.
Avery is a size twelve university student with a penchant for dry humour, and she’s as normal as they come. Up until now, the biggest choice she’s had to make was glasses or contacts? At the moment, it’s stay and save, or leave and be saved.
Allow me to explain. One rainy afternoon, Avery had to make a choice: go through the alleyway or around it. Two possible options. One would have had her future continue on as planned, the other would ensure that her future never remained the same again. She unknowingly went with the latter.
But change is not always bad. Avery meets Theodore-James Connors, an enigmatic young man who takes her to Hayven, a city separated from the rest of the world, where only gifters – ordinary people with extra-ordinary gifts – can go. She soon finds herself in a close-knit group of friends she’d never have imagined herself in. Friends who are diverse in every possible way, from their ethnic backgrounds, to their personalities, from their gifts, to their life stories. Friends who make her laugh, who make her cry, who make her think and who make her…her.
However, change is not always good. The beautiful, golden city of Hayven has its dark side – Cliders. Gifters turned rogue, aka, Cliders are determined to aid fallen Clider, Madrina, return to rule Hayven. They will stop at nothing to make that happen, including harming those Ava has grown to love.
Again, Ava is faced with a choice: spend her days finding a way to inhibit Madrina’s return, or walk away. After all, she isn’t the chosen one. Yet, there exists a third option – rig the future itself and make it work for her.
Hello! Welcome to our first edition of Authors In Wonderland, where we talk to authors about stuff and they talk to us about stuff back. Here with me today is J.A. George, the author of the Hayven series. Hello, Jessica! Tell us about yourself.
My author name is J.A. George and my full name is Jessica George. I’ll leave the middle name a mystery. I like to read, write, bake, hang out with my friends and go to the cinema (especially if DC or Marvel has released a movie.) I’m the author of GIFTED – The Hayven Series and I am a chocolate fiend. Seriously, it’s gotten to the point where I may need to seek professional help about it.
I bet your middle name is Albert. Or Alfred. You could totally be an Alfred. In a nutshell, what’s your novel about?
Gifted is centred on a nineteen year old university student – Ava. She meets a silver-haired woman a little on the strange side before meeting a young man a little more on the stranger side. These meetings lead to the eventual discovery of Hayven – a city separated from the rest of the world where only those with gifts can go. That’s an acceptable nutshell, right?
That is a good nutshell. What genre is Gifted and why did you pick it?
Gifted is a contemporary YA fantasy. I picked this genre because I wanted to read it. I wanted to read a contemporary YA fantasy novel that didn’t feature instant-love, a chosen one or a girl growing up in a dystopian society. I just wanted to read about someone normal, someone I could relate to. Someone who worries about the way she looks, but never says it out loud, has a sense of humour, thinks about the small stuff. Then I wanted to take her and place in a world she never thought existed. I also wanted to explore real young adult relationships, friendships and modern-day topics such as, body weight issues and cheating in relationships… Gifted is much less sombre than I’m making it out to be right now, I promise!
When writing Gifted, what motivated you to finish?
I wanted to see how it would end!
Was it your intention to create a heroine that really is average?
It’s very important to me that Ava is relatable because I like reading about realistic people; it makes fantasy more exciting! I think some novels are saturated with the skinny, fearless protagonist and I was guilty of that too. In edition one of Gifted, Ava was a UK size 8. I literally sat up in bed one evening, right as I was about to fall asleep and I said aloud, “Why are all my characters skinny?” There was no one else in the room at the time, thank goodness, but it got me thinking. Why are all of my characters the same small size when that isn’t a true representation of women? How can I make my novel come across as realistic if the characters are not? Living in the UK, I am constantly surrounded by people of all different shapes and sizes, and in my group of friends, none of us are the same size. There’s nothing wrong with having tiny characters, but there’s nothing wrong with having curvier characters either.
There is a touch of a love connection in Gifted, but not much. Why is that?
I just don’t believe in instant-love, so I tried to take the romance level back a notch. But I’ve come to realise that I can’t really influence how people read and interpret my book. My main protagonists Theo and Ava are not in love, but some of my readers believe they are and if it’s true in their heads, why should I say they’re wrong? The only reason I say they’re not in love is because I don’t believe in instant-love but because that can be quite a common trope, a lot of YA readers expect it. They read about a male protagonist and a female protagonist and instantly think, yup, they’re in love! Theo isn’t a smoking-hot, bad-boy, he’s nice to look at and a little on the weird side. One of my readers said she didn’t understand why Ava was interested in Theo and I was just sat on my bed looking at my computer screen and thought, urmmm, because he’s her type? She’s attracted to people who make her laugh and interest her. We don’t all fall for the unobtainable guy who loves to brood and looks like he’s the son of Zeus and Beyoncé. Readers who called Gifted a Romance used to bother me, but it doesn’t so much anymore. Like I said, if it’s a romance in your head, then it’s a romance.
That sounds fair. When did you decide to become an author?
I was on a train on my way home from university one day when I suddenly decided that the course I was doing wasn’t making me happy. I realised that the only reason I was taking that course was because it pretty much secured a financially secure future. A few thoughts, a few quiet whispers to myself and a few odd looks later, I came to the conclusion that life is too short to spend another minute not doing what I love. Everyone thinks if they eat healthily enough and don’t play in traffic, they’ll live until at least eighty and so put off making their dream come true because they keep telling themselves they’ll have plenty of time. I don’t believe time is guaranteed to anyone, so I got home, purchased a mini laptop and spent my ninety minute journeys to university writing. Soon after that, I left my course to study one that had more to do with what I wanted to achieve and…the rest is history.
What was the last book you read? What is your next?
The last book I read was The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay. I loved it! Which is such a surprise because I hadn’t read any crime novels before that because I’ve always assumed it wasn’t my thing. The power of book recommendations, eh?! The next book I plan to read is The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.
What kind of tea would you serve at the Mad Hatter’s tea party?
Ooooh… I’m a sugar fiend so can I have all desserts? I’m talking cake, biscuits, cookies, more cake, ice-cream, pies, chocolates, meringue…and even more cake.
That sounds like an excellent tea party, and one many of our readers would like to attend, I think! So if you could travel to any fictional world, where would you go?
I want to say Hogwarts but Snape (my favourite character) isn’t there anymore. There’s no way I’m going to Panem! Neverland? Yes, Neverland.
Good choice. You would be able to fly and run away from your responsibilities forever! Now, describe your ideal writing situation. Where are you? What are you drinking? Are you listening to anything?
I’m in my room at my desk, it’s raining outside and I have a large glass of ice-cold water and something sweet to snack on. I’m one of those people who cannot concentrate when music is playing so it’s usually pretty quiet.
What is the best thing about writing, in your opinion?
Getting your ideas on a page. It can get really crowded in my head!
What about the hardest?
Trying not to write for the book market. It’s easier said than done because every now and again I find myself thinking, Should I add this? I think they’ll like it. I’ll hate it, but they might like it… And in the end you’ve got an entire novel based on what you think readers want and you actually hate.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Keep writing because if you want to be an author, you literally have no other choice. Also, if you ever read over your work and don’t like it, revise it!
Jam or Nutella? Nutella!
Summer or Winter? Autumn.
Biscuits or cookies? Cookies
Glasses or contacts? Glasses! It takes me twenty minutes to put eye-drops in. Imagine contacts…
Cake or pie? Which weighs more? Cake?
Books or movies? Books that turn into movies.
Rain or sun? Rain!
Pizza or pasta? Pasta on pizza. Yes. You read right.
Thank you! As you can see, Ms George is a very relatable person who loves a sugar rush just as much as the next person. Make sure you check our her book! Look at that pretty cover. Just… look at it. You know you want to stroke it.