Interview with Tyler Hayes, author of THE IMAGINARY CORPSE

I’m so happy to welcome Tyler Hayes to the Deb Ball this week!

Tyler Hayes
Tyler Hayes

Tyler is a friend of mine from an online writing workshop, and from the moment I heard about his hopeful, bright (and noir!) story about a toy dinosaur detective, The Imaginary Corpse, I was hooked. This book, you guys. This book. It’s unlike anything else on the shelves right now, and it’ll break your heart and build it back up again and make you look for all of the old stuffed animals you had as a child and give them an extra-big hug.

Tyler is a science fiction and fantasy writer from Northern California, and a Social Justice Bard specializing in the College of Comfort. He writes stories he hopes will show people that not only are they not alone in this terrifying world, but we might just make things better. His fiction has appeared online in Anotherealm, Nossa Morte, and The Edge of Propinquity, and in print in anthologies from Alliteration Ink, Graveside Tales, and Aetherwatch. Tyler’s debut novel, The Imaginary Corpse, is coming from Angry Robot Books in fall 2019. Tyler is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and is represented by Lisa Abellera of Kimberley Cameron and Associates.

We’ll be giving away a SIGNED COPY, BOOKPLATE and BOOKMARK of THE IMAGINARY CORPSE this week, so stay tuned to the Debutante Ball social media (and below!) to learn how to get it!

You can find Tyler online at:

His website


And now to the interview!

— Karen


Which talent do you wish you had?

I wish I knew a martial art. Not because I want to be able to kick people’s butts or whatever, I just long for that kind of physical competence. I’m not as in touch with my body as I could be, not as disciplined and controlled with my movements, not as aware…all things I know could come with the practice. Plus, honestly, just the basic confidence that if I were forced to defend myself I would have some clue how would be nice. I had the opportunity to study karate as a kid and just didn’t actually have the focus for it; I’m hoping I can go back now that I’m older and more engaged.

What time of day do you love best?

Morning, morning, morning. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, I love coffee, and I love how quiet everything is and how the day hasn’t really warmed up yet. I do my best writing in the mornings, though that is restricted to weekends most of the time, and any other tasks I get done in the morning feel extra-good to get done, like I’m freeing up the latter parts of the day to be Relaxation Time.

Share one quirk you have that most people don’t know about.

I find the sensation of hot air blowing on me extremely relaxing. It comes from childhood memories, like so many things do – I had to take long, long road trips from Los Angeles to San Francisco to get to my grandmother’s apartment, and when I got there I’d take my bath or shower or whatever, towel off, and go sit in my pajamas in front of the heating vent.

In my adulthood I haven’t actually lived anywhere with a floor-level heating vent like that, so I’ve had to find other ways to get my dosage of hot air. I actually keep a hairdryer next to my writing desk and have for years for this exact purpose; a shower and blowing my beard dry is almost guaranteed to unknot me if I’m feeling stressed. (Photo evidence has been included for those who want it!)

Strangely, for all I love hot air, I actually hate being hot generally. I think it’s something about the element of choice involved.

Tell us about one of your proudest writing moments.

One day (this past week, actually), I got a tagged in a tweet from a reader who told me, “Recently, when I’ve felt down, I actually think of Tippy [the main character of The Imaginary Corpse]! He lives in my heart now.” Knowing something I wrote has touched a reader enough they’ve let it take up residence in their everyday like that was literally something I cited as the way I’d know I’d succeeded as a writer, and here it is coming right out of my first book. I’m still giggling about it.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

I once paid a Big Name Author forty dollars to critique a short story. They absolutely ripped it apart with their critique and told me that I needed to stop writing like another Big Name Author and start writing like Tyler Hayes. I didn’t literally start The Imaginary Corpse that night, but being pushed like that was what planted the seed for the future. It didn’t feel great to go through at the time, but that forty dollars is the axis my career turns on.

A close second place is all the money I’ve spent on ergonomic computer setups, compression sleeves, and the like. Deciding to take care of my arms, eyes, and hands wasn’t a glamorous decision, but I can already tell it’s improved the longevity of my career.



Follow The Debutante Ball on Facebook and Twitter and SHARE or RETWEET the interview for a chance to win The Imaginary Corpse AND BONUS bookplate and bookmark!

About The Imaginary Corpse:

A dinosaur detective in the land of unwanted ideas battles trauma, anxiety, and the first serial killer of imaginary friends.

Most ideas fade away when we’re done with them. Some we love enough to become Real. But what about the ones we love, and walk away from?
Tippy the triceratops was once a little girl’s imaginary friend, a dinosaur detective who could help her make sense of the world. But when her father died, Tippy fell into the Stillreal, the underbelly of the Imagination, where discarded ideas go when they’re too Real to disappear. Now, he passes time doing detective work for other unwanted ideas – until Tippy runs into The Man in the Coat, a nightmare monster who can do the impossible: kill an idea permanently. Now Tippy must overcome his own trauma and solve the case, before there’s nothing left but imaginary corpses.

“Hayes’s debut is an affectionate, lightly mocking homage to noir tales… A strong psychological thread weaves through the story as characters confront the trauma of being imaginary and forgotten, adding depth to what at first may seem a silly concept. Readers will revel in this strange, fully realized world.”
– Publishers Weekly

“A wholly original take on the lands of make-believe from a captivating new voice in the genre. Hayes takes the reader on a journey to the heart of themselves, reminding them of all that was lost and all that can never be forgotten. A book as comforting and as cathartic as your first knocked-out tooth.”
– Meg Elison, Philip K. Dick Award-winning author of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife

“This reminds me of Jonathan Lethem’s Gun, with Occasional Music, plus the Brian Aldiss-inspired first act of AI, with splashes of Philip K. Dick and Haruki Murakami.”
– Library Journal

“Brilliantly playful and deadly serious at the same time, often in the same sentence. Hayes knows the secret of world creation, building a new reality detail by detail, all of it ringing true even when outrageously absurd. A nightmare in day-glo colours, populated by outcasts and outlaws, private eyes and forgotten toys.”
– Jeff Noon, author of  The Body Library,  shortlisted for the Philip K Dick Award

“Hayes nails that tone in the midst of what may be 2019’s weirdest premise… the most unusual SFF-mystery mashup you’ll read this year.”
– B&N Sci Fi & Fantasy Blog

“Combining detective noir, Toy Story, and an in-depth look at trauma, Hayes has crafted the most unlikely formula and makes it sing. The Imaginary Corpse is inventive, fun, and touching, in the most unexpected way. The world – real and imaginary – needs more triceratops detectives.”
– Mike Chen, author of Here and Now and Then

“This is detective noir shot through with technicolor playfulness the likes of which I haven’t seen since Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It’s pure imagination on multiple axes – with a ton of heart.”
– Alex Wells, author of Hunger Makes the Wolf

“This book is messed up in all the right ways. It’s as if Pixar’s Inside Out mugged Toy Story in a surrealist Raymond Chandler novel. Weird, fun, scary, and a great mystery to boot. Hayes sticks the landing.”
—Jennifer Brozek, Author of Never Let Me Sleep and The Last Days of Salton Academy.

“An immensely creative, bittersweet sugar rush of a fantasy-noir novel: Who Framed Roger Rabbit meets Paranoia Agent with a touch of creepy-cute Coraline atmosphere… I heartily recommend The Imaginary Corpse to any reader seeking a delightfully different book.”
– Wendy Trimboli, author of The Resurrectionist of Caligo

“For adults who want to recapture some of their youthful imaginings, while reading an excellent book about trauma, forgiveness, and acceptance, The Imaginary Corpse will definitely fill that niche.”
– Mad Scientist Journal

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Karen Osborne

KAREN OSBORNE is a writer, visual storyteller and violinist. Her short fiction appears in Escape Pod, Robot Dinosaurs, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Uncanny and Fireside. She is a member of the DC/MD-based Homespun Ceilidh Band, emcees the Charm City Spec reading series, and once won a major event filmmaking award for taping a Klingon wedding. Her debut novel, Architects of Memory, is forthcoming in 2020 from Tor Books.

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