Hayley Stone is an amazing writer, and one of the smartest that I’ve met. Don’t believe me? Look at this amazing guest post she did on Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds. Her fantasy western, MAKE ME NO GRAVE will appeal to readers who want to follow the journey of a bad-ass female outlaw.

Almena Guillory, better known as the Grizzly Queen of the West, has done plenty to warrant the noose, but U.S. Marshal Apostle Richardson enforces the law, he doesn’t decide it. When a posse tries to lynch Almena ahead of her trial, Apostle refuses their form of expedited justice—and receives a bullet for his trouble. Almena spares him through the use of dangerous flesh magic but escapes soon after saving him.

Weeks later, Apostle fears the outlaw queen has returned to her old ways when she’s spotted terrorizing Kansas with a new gang in tow. When cornered, however, Almena makes a convincing case for her innocence and proposes a plan to take the real bandits down.

Working with a known killer opens Apostle up to all sorts of trouble, not the least being his own growing attraction toward the roguish woman. Turning Almena away from vengeance may be out of the question, but if he doesn’t try, she’ll wind up right where the law wants her: at the end of a rope.

And if Apostle isn’t careful, he’ll end up joining her.

According to your website bio, you believe history “offers a wealth of story inspiration as well as a powerful look into what makes us human.” Can you elaborate? Do you have a favorite time period in history that you’d like to visit? 

I came to love history through the medium of historical fiction and period dramas, so there has always been a sense of storytelling potential present for me regarding the past. When I study history, I’m often curious about how those involved felt at the time; they must have experienced the same wonder and trepidation, passion and reluctance, etc.—basically, all of the same emotions that you and I feel today. It’s easy to disconnect from these strangers, but I find it far more compelling to engage with their stories on a personal level; it is in that space of trying to understand why something happened or why person A chose to do this or that, where I discover some of the meatiest story possibilities.

As for a favorite time period, I have many! But if I had to choose only one, I’d probably want to visit the court of Henry VIII when Anne Boleyn was queen. Anne is my all-time favorite historical figure, and her story is what first drew me into history as a subject.

Seeing Anne Boleyn would be great (but would we be able to warn her about the beheading?). You’ve also published poetry and short stories. What do you enjoy most about writing stories within a smaller space? 

As a novelist, there’s something delicious about being able to start and finish a piece of work in a matter of days versus a year (or longer). Plus, different stories are better suited to different mediums, and short fiction—as well as poetry—allows me to explore ideas that have been knocking around in my head without having to commit a huge amount of time.

Not to mention there’s a lot you can learn with short fiction. For example, having a word limit really makes you look at your prose with a critical eye. You learn word economy quickly, and that usually carries over to other work, tightening your writing as a whole.

Excellent. What are some of your current projects? 

Currently, I’m working on a proposal for an epic fantasy inspired by the culture and mythology of the Ancient Near East. It’s easily the most ambitious novel I’ve ever attempted, and has been quite the learning process! At the same time, I’ve been working on the sequel to Make Me No Grave, currently titled Render Up the Ghost, which I hope to have finished by the end of the year. It’s always a joy returning to old characters!


Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound

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