Hi, Hayley! Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi. My name is Hayley Mills. (Yes, named Hayley after the actress my mother loved) I was born in Manchester, England, immigrating to Australia on the S. S. Australis with my family in 1974. It was an unbelievable life shift.
I became a young single mum of two daughters by the age of 19 after my partner since I was 14 passed away. Several years later daughter number three came along and I now also have eight beautiful grandchildren.
I have always loved to write, though I didn’t follow a writing career. Instead I chose Equine Industry Management, which I loved. When I changed career direction I began writing to fulfil my own needs, finding a happiness with pen and paper that gives me purpose.
What genre(s) do you write in?
I write Paranormal urban Fantasy with some romance. I would like to try my hand at writing a Paranormal Mystery Series.
Are you traditionally published, independently published, or both?
I am currently self-published, though I have a completed novel I would eventually like to experience the traditional querying process with.
What made you choose the publishing path you’re on?
I guess, with the information I had been offered at the time, I chose self-publishing to keep control over my own work and to ease into the writing world. Not having the supports and information I have now I made an awful lot of mistakes along the way. I have learnt a lot over the years and would do things a little differently now. I’m still learning.
Why did you choose to write in the genre(s) you’re in?
Originally I wrote an autobiography. On completion I burnt the book. It occurred to me that the anxiety I felt was my fear of someone reading what was personal to me and making judgements. After the pages turned to ash I immediately felt I had once again been silenced. That same night I had a dream in complete scenes that finished at the end of the story. I got up and wrote my first book with elements of my life mixed in with fantasy. I haven’t published this particular book, but went on to write and publish a Paranormal Fantasy Series, Lord Have Mercy and then Mercy on Your Soul.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
My dreams of becoming a writer began in 5th Grade primary school after my English teacher praised me for a story I wrote. Though it was full of red ink corrections for my appalling spelling and punctuation. My work is still full of red mark corrections.
Tell us a little about your writing processes and your writing space.
I have an upstairs office with beautiful views over the water. It can either be great for my imagination or a beautiful distraction.
When I wrote Lord Have Mercy, the story was handwritten in small journals. At its completion I handwrote it again with edits in larger journals, then typed it into the computer with more edits. I already knew the full story, however I wrote: plans, mind-maps, plots and character references along the way. Sometimes characters choose new directions, and scenes develop in ways I hadn’t originally imagined.
I chose to write Mercy on Your Soul directly into the computer with complete outlines of plots and characters. Each process had its pros and cons.
I have again chosen to handwrite Book 3 of the series into journals before typing it up.
I have two other completed handwritten novels waiting to go through the publishing process.
What are your favorite books to read?
I enjoy many books from the classics of Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice and Tolstoy’s, War and Peace, to Tolkien’s, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I like Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones series and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Diana Gabaldon Outlander Series, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series and Lainie Taylors Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. George R.R Martin, A Game of Thrones, Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden, Richard Adams, Watership Down, Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Markus Zusak, The Book Thief. (Too many others to list)
What does marketing look like for you? Are you an avid believer in social media or do you like paid advertisement more? Do you DIY or do you have someone else or a company handle it?
I had no idea what was involved in advertising and social media when I first started. Though I’ve learnt a great deal, I’m in no way leading the charge. In fact, I’m probably the one at the back of the platoon running with sword held high, shouting war cries, swallowing bugs and tripping face first in the mud. Still, I scramble up full of determination and somehow turn myself about, heading in the wrong direction. Until a kindly warrior sets me straight, takes me by the shoulders and sends me back the other way. I continue to yodel my battle cries, but with far less enthusiasm.
I engage in social media such as with a Facebook Author page and my facebook group The Ink Pot, Instagram and Twitter, as well as Goodreads, Allauthors and Bookbubz. It is important to get your books out there, but I find it just as important to connect with people. It can be really difficult keeping everything balanced and take away the time necessary for writing, so set time schedules and then get off and get writing.. Another way to help is create several posts and schedule when they can be posted.
In the beginning I did a few paid facebook Ads. Unfortunately, they didn’t achieve anything for me. That’s not to say they won’t work for others. Creating your own book trailers and posts (Canva is a great app to use) are important to draw your audience in. Of course, if you have the money to pay someone or a company to do your advertising for you, that’s great and will take a load of stress off your shoulders. DIY is like a full time business. Creating a newsletter is apparently important (Again I have not tackled this yet) I will at some point; possibly when my writing projects settle down. I have noticed a huge increase in reels and tiktok for Authors (Not something I have become involved in) but it seems to have a great impact for others.
I wish you all well in this department. If you see me running in the wrong direction just give me a friendly shove and I’ll re-join the fray with my muddy, bug splattered face held high.
If you have to do any research for your books, how do you like to accomplish this? What is your organization of research like? How long do you usually spend on research?
Each of my books has required some element of research. With Lord Have Mercy. I researched a historical connection between Norman Gothic buildings in England and buildings in France that could have a connection to the Character Gargoyles, particularly Af. I chose William the Conqueror to be the bridge between the two worlds by commissioning the construction of Lincoln Cathedral after the battle of Hastings, and of course his birth connections in Falaise, Normandy and marriage at Notre Dame where he commissioned the creation of Af. I have woven history and mythology within both of my books. I will work hard to weave more research into book 3 where it’s needed.
I cross check websites and books and use memories of places I’ve been to and things I’ve seen growing up. Other books I will research by going on site where possible.
Which of your books is your bestseller and why do you think it is? What do readers say they like about it?
Lord Have Mercy has been out the longest, with Mercy on Your Soul only published this year. When I first began in the publishing world I didn’t have the advice and support necessary to help me though the process. If I had the knowledge then that I do now I wouldn’t have published at that time. For this reason, I have saved and found an editor/proofreader who has gone through Book 1 again. Once the corrections have been completed a new edition will be published.
An Amazon and Goodreads review gives a bit of insight into what someone felt about Lord Have Mercy.
What an amazing adventure it has been exploring her dual nature together with Mercy!
“Lord Have Mercy” by H.M. Mills is a book that has everything to make you turn the pages. Iconic characters like angels, demons, and Lucifer himself open up from the angles you’ve never imagined them before. My favourite characters in the book are the Gargoyles. Those guys make an impressive set you wouldn’t really want to encounter but imagining them while reading was truly fascinating.
I’m not a huge fan of 17-year-old protagonists, but I guess it’s because often they act either if they were ten or thirty. Mercy acts exactly as a 17-year-old girl would in the situations she has to face. I really liked that. She is impulsive, she doesn’t think twice before she acts, and she is easily confused by those older and wiser, especially when they masterfully tag at Mercy’s most painful cords.
Reading this book was like travelling to Hell and back. Descriptions of Hell and its inhabitants were so vivid I almost felt those flames and Lucifer’s wrath burning me through.
H.M. Mills has created a set of bright, relatable characters, and the story arcs that weave their lives together are highly compelling. I’ll definitely read the second installment in the Mercy Aymes series.
Tell us a little about your latest or upcoming release.
Book 3 is the final book in the Mercy Aymes trilogy. Mercy is a Demon/Angel hybrid thrown into the Immortal world she had no idea she belonged to.
Demons, Gargoyles and Angels rushing towards a war that began before the fall of Lucifer. Only the Demon King discovered a weapon that will tip the scales in his favour; a weapon that happens to be his fated mate. The only problem is she’s also the fated mate of a Guardian, a Gargoyle warrior of Lincoln.
Of all the characters you’ve created, who is your favorite? (I know, it’s like choosing a favorite between kids)
This really is a hard question to answer. It might sound funny that I don’t consider my MC Mercy my favourite, though I love all my characters. I have a particular soft spot for Lucifer and Xaphan, Azrael and Chayyliel. Actually, I’m just going to end up writing a long list of names. I also have favourite characters from novels I haven’t published yet.
Here are all of Hayley’s links if you would like to interact with her on social media! Thanks Hayley for doing an Author Spotlight with us!