Friday, March 30, 2018

Author Spotlight: Here So Far Away by Hadley Dyer + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM

Hadley Dyer is the author of Here So Far AwayPotatoes on Rooftops: Farming in the City, Watch This Space: Designing, Defending and Sharing Public Spaces and Johnny Kellock Died Today, winner of the Canadian Library Association's Book of the Year for Children Award. She has worked in the children’s book industry for more than twenty years, most recently as executive editor of children's and young adult titles at HarperCollins Canada, and for multiple organizations promoting the cause of literacy and reading, including CODE, IBBY Canada, and the Canadian Children's Book Centre. Raised in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, she now resides in Toronto.

Johnny Kellock Died Today is a middle grade novel published in Canada, Germany and Japan but not the US, making Here So Far Away both my YA and US fiction debuts. 

Title: Here So Far Away
Genre: YA Contemporary
Author: Hadley Dyer
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication: March 20th 2018
Cover Rating: 5/5

Here So Far Away by Hadley Dyer is the story of George/Frances growing up in the 90's and facing some pretty heavy issues for a girl her age. 

George is one of those tough girls. She kind of reminds me of myself when I was in high school. I didn't take crap from anyone and neither does George. She gets called a slut and so many other things but she just raises her head high and continues on with her life. I really loved the aspect of her. She wasn't one of those weak female main characters who can't take any sort of backlash for her actions.

Aside from her tough-girl persona, she also has a lot to deal with at home. Her father, an ex-cop, is recovering from leg amputation surgery and because of this George might not be able to go to college. So this on top of George's feeling of isolation and need for excitement leads her down a path of, not quite destruction, but not so great choices.

I had a little bit of trouble getting into the book at first. George seemed to be a big party girl and that just isn't something I enjoy reading about. But after a bit, you get to see the real George and you can't help but understand her and kind of empathize with her. This book does have some strong themes so be aware of that if you are sensitive or giving this book to a younger person to read. I appreciate the honesty of this book. Most authors try to sugar coat everything but this book was REAL.

The relationship in this book is obviously meant to be something bad as the guy is older, and in a career position where he can get in a TON of trouble, while George is still a teenager. I didn't entirely HATE the relationship but I did hate what George turned into because of it. She started keeping secrets just to make sure no one found out about her relationship and this caused a lot of rifts to form between her and her friends. I also hate that George was so vulnerable and that situation was taken advantage of.

In the end, I really enjoyed the story and the authors writing was very beautiful but for some reason, I found myself unable to truly connect with any of the characters. I will definitely read more work from the author if she writes more books in the future.

Overall, I gave the book 3.5/5 stars.

1) Did you always want to be an author?
Growing up in rural Nova Scotia, I didn't understand for a long time that being an author was even an option. Then the possibility of becoming a journalist or essayist took hold, and that was the path I thought I was on when I graduated from high school. I got my start in the book industry when I moved to the city of Halifax for university and started working at an amazing independent children's bookstore called Woozles ( I was completely overwhelmed the first few times I met authors! Before long, my ambition began pivoting towards children's and young adult books, and eventually, I became a professional editor and writer. I've written a lot of nonfiction for young readers, so perhaps I never fully abandoned my journalistic leanings. 

2) How many books do you own?
I have no idea! There are three large bookcases in my bedroom, books on various shelves in my home office and tucked into odd spots throughout the house, including stacks hidden inside the coffee table. A year or two ago, I gave away at least a half-dozen boxes, and somehow ran out of space again within seconds. But I no longer consider my book collection to be representative of my tastes or reading history. I use the library a lot and have a Kindle, so there are many happy reading experiences not represented on my shelves, and like everyone else, I have books that people gave me or I bought on impulse and have yet to read.  

3) What was your inspiration behind Here So Far Away?
True stories, and that includes the twist leading into the final quarter of the novel. The older you get, the more stories you hear about relationships that were kept quiet or entirely secret for a variety of reasons, and they are almost always hard on the people involved. I wanted to explore what keeping such a big secret might cost a young person, especially someone who thinks the world has nothing left to teach her, who feels invulnerable to tender emotions and to being taken advantage of. To make it more challenging and interesting to write, I decided that the two leads wouldn't have a straightforward predator-prey relationship, even though there is a considerable age difference between them. I was also interested in the question of whether it might be possible to balance out the more angst-filled business with scenes that are lighter, funnier, and homier. 

4) If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Rural Nova Scotia, where I grew up, is a very beautiful but homogenous place. Twenty years ago, I moved to Toronto, where half the residents were born outside of Canada. I'm still in love with the diversity of this city and can't seem to quit it. But if I could also spend part of the year in Nova Scotia and part of the year in France, where my brother and his family live, I'd be quite content.  

5) Are you currently working on anything new you would like to share with us?
I've got two novels on the go, among other things. One is a personal story that I've been thinking about for a long time, and the other -- well, as my mother says, I pulled it out of my pancreas. One day it just announced itself and my publisher loved the idea, so that's now the official work in progress of the moment. It's a silly, rom-comy adventure that's really out there for me but also exactly what I need to be working on right now.


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