Recently I was given the opportunity to not only read/review the captivating new release: Take Your Turn, Teddy (publication date – December 8th 2020) by Haley Newlin but also to interview the talented author herself! If you haven’t read my spoiler-free review yet, click here and check it out. I want to say a huge thank you to Haley for taking the time to answer my questions and providing so much insight into her life, writing process and wonderful novel. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
1.) ‘Take Your Turn, Teddy’ is wrapped up in childhood trauma and darkness. Did you draw from any personal experiences? If so, was this a difficult book to write emotionally?
I always draw from personal experience in my writing. In studying horror, I have learned its unique ability to make us confront the darkest parts of ourselves – our trauma, our fears, our shame. In ‘Take Your Turn, Teddy’, I re-birthed trauma I had forgotten I ever buried. Writing this book was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Honestly, it was the lowest I’ve ever been mentally and emotionally, but now, it feels like I can do anything. Confronting all this trauma, all the confusion and anger I faced as a child, taught me if we don’t meet our ghosts, take the time to know them, and why they haunt us, we become entombed by them. It sounds so ironic since there’s usually a fair amount of death in the genre, but horror saved my life.
2.) What has it been like for you writing and creating during a pandemic?
Writing during a pandemic was a unique experience. Mostly because I’m used to constantly having to say no – “No, I can’t go out. I need to write.” “No, I can’t take a break, I have to finish this chapter.” I had to say no far less, which in a way, was tough mentally. It felt like the world had moved on while I was trying to crawl through the ash and bones of my trauma in Teddy’s story. I had to remind myself that the world was buried too – in fear, loss, isolation. It sort of felt the world was living in a King or Bradbury novel.
3.) Which authors do you draw inspiration from?
Obviously, Stephen King is on my list. In my first book, ‘Not Another Sarah Halls’, my introduction is practically an ode to Pennywise. But for ‘Take Your Turn, Teddy’, I drew a lot of inspiration from Shirley Jackson, especially The Haunting of Hill House, Robert Bloch, and Riley Sager.
4.) What future writing projects are in store for you?
I am currently writing my third novel called ‘The Hiss in Hysteria.’ I have written roughly 6,000 words of the manuscript but am still doing a ton of research. My brain feels like a sponge right now.
5.) What is one takeaway lesson or message you want readers to gain from ‘Take Your Turn, Teddy?’
From Take Your Turn, Teddy, I hope readers see a choice – know your shadow and learn to beat it, or let it consume you.
6.) What is your writing process like? Do you listen to music? Write in a certain spot?
A huge part of my writing process is becoming as immersed in my genre as possible. I am working on a novel now that will go through the 50s, 60s, and 70s, so I’m rereading a lot of classic horror novels like Rosemary’s Baby, Amityville Horror, and Psycho. When I write, I have to have noise of some kind. I often have movies playing in the background, usually Vincent Price, like “House of Wax” or “Diary of a Madman.” I work in my office with The Beatles, The Mamas and the Papas, and oldies playing on more challenging scenes.
7.) What advice can you impart to aspiring authors?
For aspiring authors, I would say, read, read, read. Stephen King says, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time or tools to write.” I feel that I have become a better writer with each book I read. In reading, we see new or different techniques executed to make the readers feel connected to the readers or to establish that sense of dread and unease that horror demands. Dive headfirst into your genre, and forget about coming up for air.
8.) Where did the idea for ‘Take Your Turn, Teddy’ come from?
Take Your Turn, Teddy initially came from a nightmare my boyfriend had. He woke up and told me he had a nightmare about two kids who moved into a new house and discovered an entity that told them it was a friend, but it looked so terrifying. The rule of the entity was it needed submission or attention from the kids to thrive. The concept was horrific – preying on the trusting, kid nature of children to fan the flames of something evil. From there, it was all about building the shadow, and the psychology of those vulnerable to it, specifically Teddy.
9.) Given the ending, do you plan to write a sequel?
I am not a huge fan of sequels. A lot of the time, sequels feel like a writer couldn’t say goodbye to their characters. Goodbyes are hard, but for some stories, there’s no need to dig up the corpse. The ending of Take Your Turn, Teddy calls back to my first novel, ‘Not Another Sarah Halls’. So, in a way, it teases more at the concept of a universe. For the authors who can find a sound story to create a sequel, I applaud you. It just hasn’t been my thing so far.
10.) What is a genre outside of your comfort zone that you would love to dabble in?
This is difficult because I spent so long telling myself that horror was too out there, so I tried to stay more YA and Mystery. Only within the last few years did I really come into myself as a horror author, so I’m still just soaking in everything I can about the genre.
Once again a huge thank you to Haley for giving me such a great opportunity. I hope you enjoyed my spoiler-free review. If you’re interested in ordering a copy, please click here. Follow Haley on her Instagram page and don’t forget to leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads!
Feel free to let me know down below if this book sounds like something you might want to check out. I really want to get more people talking about it! Thanks for reading.
Peace & Love xoxo