Meet … Doc Macfarlane

Dr. Hayley Macfarlane’s book Prince of Foxes is part of the SFWA Fantastic Beasts storybundle.

You can find Hayley on the web, @HLMacfarlane, Insta, or the Bub. If you want to do your part for charity and get some ass-kicking books for the price you choose, check out the Fantastic Beasts storybundle. Make sure you check the box for charity!

Q: OMG Scotland. Do you have photos of Nessie?

A: No, I don’t have photos of Nessie haha. I grew up on the south-eastern shore of Loch Lomond, and Nessie is, of course, in Loch Ness. In a horrendous turn of events I’ve never been to Loch Ness before – I don’t drive and it’s difficult to get up there using public transport. One day, though…

From an interesting creature standpoint, there’s an island on Loch Lomond full of wallabies. They were brought over from Australia decades ago! My dad, who runs the Macfarlane & Son boatyard in Balmaha (he had five daughters before finally having a son, but that’s another story entirely), used to take me and my sisters over to the island to look for the wallabies. They were hard to spot but once we spotted one with a baby in its pouch! It was so cute and bizarre in equal measure.

Q: I see Prince is written in the Queen’s English, with a blurb note it’s not American. I feel there’s a story in there..?

A: Okay, so I make a point of saying my books are written in British English because I’ve seen British authors get slammed by American reviewers for ‘bad spelling’ one time too often. I’m not gonna write all my books in American English because why should I? It feels weird to write books sets in Scotland or elsewhere in Europe in American English. So I put a note on the product page of all my books and also include it at the beginning of all my eBooks just so folk are aware that many spelling and grammatical variations are exactly that – variations, not errors. I’ve yet to have anyone complain about my spelling, so I guess the note must be working!

Q: Synthetic biology sounds … kinda rad, tbh. Was your fascination for fantastic things a driver to get into that? Or was writing the fastest-running escape ever?

A: Oh, synthetic biology has nothing to do with my love of fantastic things. Growing up by Loch Lomond, with islands full of wallabies and white stags and the freedom to run about everywhere with no supervision, is what nurtured my love for nature and make-believe. I was a voracious reader and consumed encyclopaedias just as quickly as I went through fiction. That’s how I grew to love the sciences so much, and how I ended up studying genetics and, after that, synethic biology as the focus of my PhD. I never intended to study synthetic bio, though! I just kind of fell into it. My science background really helps with my books, although you don’t see much of that in my fairy tales. It’s in my other ones, though – and I have a zombie pathogen book fully plotted just waiting to be unleashed upon the world.

In fact, my PhD often got so stressful (because nothing ever worked, as usual) that I turned to writing as an escape. I wrote my first novel, Careless Assassin, during the final year of my PhD. In some ways I’m prouder of that than my thesis. Although my thesis got published a few months before Careless Assassin, so at the end of the day my debut as a published writer was as a scientist!

Check out Prince of Foxes in the Fantastic Beasts storybundle:

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