Author Spotlight: Hannah R. S. Hayes
By Hannah R. S. Hayes
Born and raised in Toronto, Hannah, an only child, was homeschooled, but that didn’t stop her from becoming quite the social butterfly. In the last twenty-seven years, Hannah has filled her life with exciting events, memorable moments, and life-changing opportunities. In the words of her mother, “She started walking at nine months and has been going strong ever since.” Her personal achievements include becoming a pageant title holder and a Toronto Sunshine Girl, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for a charity dear to her heart, starting her own company, and now authoring seven children’s books, with more on the way!
From the age of eight, Hannah wanted to become a child psychologist. That was her plan, until she completed her first semester at Trinity Western University. Within the first week of returning for her second semester, Hannah felt God calling her back to Ontario. Not too long after going home, she was offered the opportunity to become the Greater Toronto Area ministry representative for Threefold Ministries, a ministry she truly believed in after going on four mission trips with them to Nicaragua.
After nine months of working for the ministry, Hannah ended up discovering the Professional Fitness Consultant program through Medix College, where she enrolled and graduated one year later. Once Hannah completed the program, she worked at a big box gym for a few months before deciding it was time to start her own fitness company: Liberating Fitness.
During this time, Hannah started writing her first book, Betty the Polar Bear. After completing it, Hannah decided to keep going with the series. Almost two years later, all of the books are complete. Hannah was determined to finish each one before she went to a publishing company.
Fast forward a year and a half and Hannah has continued with her list of accomplishments, both with her books and otherwise. Looking ahead, it is safe to say this is just the beginning. We look forward to see what else is in store.
Projects & Events: Hannah is thrilled to announce that copies of Betty the Polar Bear are currently being sold at the Toronto Zoo. Proceeds from the books will go back to the zoo, to help the polar bears. She is networking with other polar bear organizations in order to help save this incredible species.
Interview with Hannah Hayes
WAP: Where did you come up with the idea for the Betty the Polar Bear series?
HH: In May 2009, I was on a Via Rail train, heading down to visit some friends in Sarnia, Ontario.
I started thinking about my love for polar bears. They aren’t the most attractive animal to some, but to people like me, they are so beautiful. I then thought about zebras and how they are beautiful in their own way. They probably wouldn’t be my favourite animal; if I had the choice between the two, I would still pick the polar bear.
I started to apply the same thought to people. Each person is different in their own way, and our differences make us who we are. However, some people are attracted to certain things, while others are not. That very thought inspired me to write the story of Betty the Polar Bear.
After I wrote my first book, I developed different characters and decided to continue the series, tackling more issues that children go through.
WAP: How did you decide which animals to use?
HH: When I thought about my characters, I wanted to make sure I created a distinct group. I also chose animals that aren’t commonly used. Humans are unique, and I wanted the animals to be shown as unique and different as well.
WAP: Do you have a favourite character or story from the series?
HH: I honestly love all of my characters, but so far Gilmar the Iguana has to be my favourite. I just love the way it all came together.
WAP: How do you juggle managing a children’s book series and running your own business?
HH: If it wasn’t for Word Alive Press, this would have been a much bigger challenge, but they handled so many of the details for me. Balancing both was a walk in the park.
WAP: What’s next for Betty and her friends?
HH: I am so thrilled to announce that the series will be continuing on, with seven fresh topics that children go through and a whole list of brand-new characters.
WAP: What was your publishing experience like?
HH: When I found out about Word Alive Press, it was a huge answer to prayer. I cannot thank them enough for all they have done for me. It has truly been an incredible experience. They have literally taken everything I ever dreamed and turned it into reality. Their guidance and support is more than I could ever have asked for, and I am incredibly grateful. *WAP*: Do you have any advice for new writers?
HH: Set yourself a deadline and meet that deadline. If you keep saying, “Tomorrow, tomorrow,” you may find that tomorrow never comes. Don’t lose the vision, and don’t worry about the product being perfect.
“If you never go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you never ask, the answer will always be no. If you never step forward, you will always be in the same spot.” This quote has changed my life and I hope it will impact yours as well.
About this Contributor:
As a child, Hannah R.S. Hayes loved being read to, but was not a fan of reading on her own. One day, Hannah’s father read her a story about a little polar bear which sparked her love for them. Fast forward to 15 years later and Betty the Polar Bear was born. Hannah is delighted to share this unique series with you that addresses real-life situations that children go through.
There are currently 7 books in the series: Betty the Polar Bear, Zena the Zebra, Petunia the Peacock, Dover the Gopher, Isabelle the Giraffe, Marsalis the Monkey, and Gilmar the Iguana. Learn more about the Betty the Polar Bear series here.