Author Hannah Rials talks about writing at a young age

Becoming an author is impressive enough, but how about becoming an author at the age of twelve? That’s exactly what was achieved by Hannah Rials. Her first YA novel, Ascension, was released in 2016. Ascension is a modern day teenage romance filled with “double-blooded” vampires and revenge-seeking witches. This year, her second novel in her Ascension trilogy, Clandestine, was released. Young Entertainment Mag spoke with Hannah about her book series and what it’s like to be a published author at such a young age.

Young Entertainment Mag: How did you get involved in writing at such a young age?

Hannah Rials: I also used writing as a form of therapy. My grandma gave me a journal at a very young age and encouraged me to write in it every single day. I can’t honestly say that I’ve been able to do that, especially in my college years, but I have boxes of journals. So then that journaling turned into writing short stories about horses and dogs, which turned into a incomplete novel about a dog when I was 10, and then what would be Ascension when I was 12.

 
YEM: Where did you get the idea for this book series?

Hannah: When I was twelve years old, that was when the vampire wave hit the young adult shelves. I devoured the Twilight series in a week and moved on to Vampire Academy, the Nightworld series, House of Night series, Nevermore, and so on. My mind was just so inundated with vampires that I woke up from a dream with this girl Macy who just so happened to be a vampire in my head and started writing that night, and didn’t stop until it was published in 2016.

 
YEM: What is it like to have your own award winning book at such a young age?

Hannah: It is extremely surreal. Whenever people describe Ascension as an award winning novel, it still feels untrue to my ears, even though I can very clearly see the sticker on the cover and remember the night that I got the call even more vividly. I was actually at a cousin’s wedding in San Diego, and I was driving when my publisher called me with the news. Let’s just say I had to pull over because the road became very blurry.

YEM: How did you balance school and your writing all at once? Was that challenging?

Hannah: Balance is always challenging. It was easier during middle school and high school because I went to an after school tutor, who basically is my unofficial editor, once a week every week for six years. The time in her basement at the computer was designated writing and editing time. But I also snuck in writing time during class when I should’ve been paying attention. Sometimes even during church, but we keep that on the down-low. Writing in college was slightly more difficult, mainly because college is exhausting, but also because I had so much outside creative writing, since I was a creative writing major. I had to figure out a schedule that worked best for me, which turned out to be waking up two hours before I’d have be ready for class and write for at least 45 minutes.

 
YEM: What authors have inspired you? Was there a particular book that inspired you to become a writer?

Hannah: Some of the first authors to inspire me when I was young and still finding my footing in writing were Liz Kessler, who wrote the Emily Windsnap series. I actually wrote to Liz telling her how much I loved her books and that I was a writer as well, and she actually wrote me a handwritten note back, which I still have, encouraging me to keep going. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke was also a book/author that left a huge impact on me. It is my go-to middle grade recommendation when I worked at Star Line Books in Chattanooga this past year.

More recently, Richelle Mead is my vampire inspiration for sure. The first time I met her at Yallfest was extremely embarrassing thanks to low blood sugar, but I’ll save that for another day. My main inspiration right now is Leigh Bardugo. I have devoured all the books that she’s written and am just in awe of the way she builds worlds and trickles in backstory and sketches out characters throughout an entire series. I designed cocktails inspired by her books, which I gave her the recipes to, and I am convinced she’s the next JK Rowling.
I could honestly talk about authors that inspire me all day long–Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link. Maggie Stiefvater, Erin Morgenstern…all these authors have had a role in shaping me as a writer.

YEM: What advice would you give to young students who dream of becoming authors?

Hannah: Well, the advice that everyone is going to give you is to read. Read everything, not just what you claim as your genre. But my advice, and this applies to all young people searching out their dreams, is to believe in yourself because it all starts with you. If you don’t believe in yourself, then no one else will believe in you either. Write confidently, present your writing confidently, and know that the book world wants you to be successful. I believed in myself, which made my parents believe in me, which made my unofficial editor believe in me, which made my publisher accept my book. You can do this. Just hold your chin up high.

(Book 2 in the Ascension series, Clandestine) 

YEM: Have you already started writing book three in this trilogy?

Hannah: Not quite yet… I just graduated from college on May 5, but my plan for the summer is to write the third (and final, eep!) installment in the trilogy, while also editing a book completely unrelated to the Cheyenne Lane Trilogy.

Ascension by Hannah Rials is available now. Book two, Clandestine, will be released on July 20th.  For more on Hannah Rials’ books and how to order them, visit audreypress.com/aletha-press/

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