Category Archives: Hailey Cain

Note: This q-and-a contains mild spoilers for ‘Hailey’s War.’

Hailey Cain is 23 as Hailey’s War opens. Why such a young protagonist?

That has its roots in how the success of 37th Hour changed my life. When I first had the idea for the Sarah Pribek novels, I was 29 and working full-time in a newsroom, a disciplined, deadline-oriented environment. Most of the people I worked with were in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. I created a world for Sarah that was similar. She worked in law enforcement, a hierarchal world with clear rules (even if she broke them sometimes).

Then I sold 37th Hour and made enough money to quit my newsroom job. I bought my first home, a condo in a complex full of college students, just up the hill from San Luis Obispo’s downtown core, where those students drank and partied. I didn’t party, but with no job, I could live more or less like a student, staying up late and sleeping until noon. Then I’d write, or not (there was a lot of ‘not,’ in those days). Late in the afternoon, I’d go out to the MMA gym by the university and train.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’d crash-landed on the Planet of the Young. I overheard their drunken revels and arguments and fights. Their Kanye West and Gnarls Barkley drifted from car windows. They were my training partners at the gym. I didn’t realize how much this was affecting me until I sat down at 36 and wrote a book in which no major character is over 25.

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