Patricia Nelson at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

MG Fantasy

THE TURNAWAY GIRLS (October 9, 2018)
Candlewick Press

Hayley Chewins grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, in a house so full of books that she learnt to read by accident. Hayley studied classical voice for a year before switching to a degree in English Literature and Italian. She has an MA in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with her husband and a very small poodle. She believes in two things above all else: the magic of love and the heroism of sisters.

I wrote my first MG fantasy manuscript in 2013 — a trunk novel. I queried the second MG manuscript I wrote (a magical realist novel in verse) and did an R&R but the agent passed on the revised manuscript. The third MG manuscript I wrote was THE TURNAWAY GIRLS. I entered Pitch Slam in April 2015 and Patricia Nelson asked me to do an R&R for her. I signed with her in July 2015 after receiving an offer from another agent on the original manuscript. (Patricia signed me on the basis of the revised opening chapters.) I worked on the manuscript for another six months (with Patricia’s input) and we went on submission in February 2016. A month later, we got an offer to revise and resubmit from Miriam Newman at Candlewick Press. I did the revisions and we submitted to Miriam again in early August 2016. Three weeks later, we had an offer! As you can tell, I’ve done a lot of R&Ring, so I can definitely offer sage advice on that!

I have a BA in English Literature and Italian Language and Literature (so if you have any Italian in your book, I’d be happy to help with that!). I also have an MA in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University in Bath, England, where I worked with award-winning authors like Lucy Christopher, CJ Skuse and David Almond. I’ve mentored a writer through Gwenda Bond’s mentoring programme (hi, Aimee!) and I LOVE writing queries, synopses and pitches.

When I first starting writing MG, I had so many moments where a more experienced author reached out and helped me, whether it was with an encouraging word, a thoughtful tweet, or writing advice. We’re all on this road together and I believe in paying it forward. <3

I’d love to find a dark MG high fantasy with a fairy tale feel and lots of feminism. Bonus points for a totally original magic system and a strange, creepy world!

  • Fantasy
  • Own Voices
  • Dark fantasy & fairy tales
  • Feminist fantasy

I love MG Fantasy that’s a little on the darker side. (Think THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON, CUCKOO SONG, THE LAND OF YESTERDAY, THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS.) I’m drawn to girls’ voices, sister stories, fairy-tale-inspired fantasy and books that take a familiar idea and put a new twist on it. The stranger, the better!


  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
  • Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
  • Skype or phone call
  • Freestyle in chat

I’m a very positive, encouraging person and I will tell you what you’re doing RIGHT! I’ll tell you what I love about your work and what your strengths are. I’ll also talk to you about areas that could be improved — but I’ll do it in a gentle way. I’m very good with sentences and making language pretty and clean, so the line edit will be *thorough*. I’m also great with voice (helping you find and clarify your/your character’s voice), worldbuilding logic, and creating suspense/tension. I’m happy to do both formal edit letters and casual chats — I want you to feel comfortable working me and I’d be so happy if we could be friends. 🙂

Someone positive who is willing to listen to feedback and work hard. (And someone who writes sentences that make me swoon.)

Dark MG high fantasy/anything with a fairy tale feel/beautiful writing/a fantasy novel in verse (!)/magic + feminism

Medieval fantasy with an all-white cast/quest narratives/light-hearted, humorous fantasy/contemporary fantasy

Books: CUCKOO SONG by Frances Hardinge, FOXHEART by Claire Legrand, THE LAND OF YESTERDAY by K.A. Reynolds, THE DOLLMAKER OF KRAKOW by R.M. Romero, THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON by Kelly Barnhill, RACE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA by Lindsay Eagar, THE GIRL OF INK AND STARS by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, THE FOLK KEEPER by Franny Billingsley