By Ekta R. Garg

May 19, 2022

Storm Rising by Chris Hauty

Release date: May 3, 2022

Genre: Political thriller

As an author, it’s easy to envy and admire Chris Hauty all in the same thought. He’s building a steady fan following for his Hayley Chill books. And why wouldn’t he? Hayley is smart, sassy, confident, and fighting for the greater good. She’s what all women want to be on their best days.

Not only that, Chris has also created a world of espionage and political hijinks. While some people might think we get enough of politics in our day-to-day news coverage, this is the kind that’s fun to follow. Hayley really is like the female James Bond except she has the added benefit of being someone driven by a deeply personal cause.

James Bond is fun and all that, but if you watch the movies you realize that at some point they all circle around the same idea: Bond’s cases have nothing to do with who he is. He does cool stuff and has amazing gadgets and goes after bad guys because he’s a spy and needs to pull down said bad guys. We don’t get much of Bond’s heart or his deeper motivations.

Hayley, though, is definitely motivated, especially in Storm Rising. She’s recently received the news that the father she thought was dead actually wasn’t; except now he is. She walks in on his body not long before this book starts, and it’s rattled her ever since. She has to find out what and why and how, but the organization she works for has other ideas. Only Hayley, in her Hayley Chill way, figures out how to pursue both causes at the same time and not make them mutually exclusive.

There’s no doubt that Chris Hauty’s deep background in Hollywood works to his favor here. Some authors try to write in a cinematic fashion but miss out on the inner turmoil and workings of characters for the bigger exclamation points. Hauty’s work balances both Hollywood theatrics with the best of books. We get to watch Hayley hesitate over situations and we know why. We get to listen as she tries to figure out all of this craziness in her life while keeping her professional goals on track. She’s beating up bad people and thinking about how her actions affect her mission. It’s fun and interesting and thoughtful, and I’m all for it.

Writers have such a tough job; we have to make sure readers are on board with their characters and the big problems in their lives, but we also have to keep the pacing of any story moving along at a good clip. In real life, we have the luxury of spending an entire day thinking about that fight we had with a partner or how our professional lives are throwing us for a loop. But readers don’t want to “watch” characters sit around all day and feel bad. They get enough of that from their own lives. They want to see drama, emotion, adventure (depending on the genre,) action (again, depending on the genre,) comedy. They want dinner and a show, and they want it to be memorable.

Days after reading Storm Rising, I’m still thinking about how cool Hayley is. I’m thinking about how she found herself in the middle of the desert in a “do-or-die” situation. I’m remembering how she’s trying to ignore her feelings for a certain someone even though her heart is clearly tugging her in that direction. That is the mark of a successful author.

I admire Chris’s abilities to build such a deep character, and—full disclosure—I’m a little envious at the same time. I want to do the same in my own work. Although we write in completely different genres, the principles of writing remain the same.

I hope, as I continue to progress in my writing career, that I can create stories, characters, or both that people think about long after they’re done reading my work. After all, that’s what writing is about, right? Making connections and reaching out to one another through this medium of fiction. Fostering empathy and a deeper understanding of those different from you. And reminding one another that no matter what problems might have us stuck—even if they’re writing ones—that we’re here for one another.