seven questions with moria young // blog tour

29 April 2014

*fangirls* i love the dustland trilogy so much so you can imagine my excitement when i was offered to be a part of the blog tour for the final book- *jumps up and down* i'm not going to bore you with my random dances [i can't dance really] so without further ado, please welcome the amazing moira young to my blog as she answers questions about her writing process and the blood red road film [italics are needed because SQUEEE.] p.s for those of you who haven't read the books yet *glares*. guess what? i am holding a giveaway for the whole series! pp.s this is a long post. get some food first. and then settle down. :)
What was your writing process when it came to creating the characters of the Dustlands Series? Did you draw character profiles, brainstorm and use inspiration from people you knew - or did they all pop into your head fully formed? Who was the character that was the hardest for you to vivify?
The characters of Blood Red Road all grew from Saba's voice. As she spoke her story and I wrote it down, she told me about her father, her brother, her sister, her dead mother and so on. She seemed to know everything about everyone - and why not? it's her story - and so long as I listened to her and didn't try to steer the ship, it all just came very naturally. The one character who took longest to reveal himself was Vicar Pinch, her main antagonist. I was still discovering him as I was working on the last edits. DeMalo stepped into the story because I realised that if Saba's story was going to be told over another two books, she would need a powerful adversary. So he wasn't added to the narrative until almost the last moment. But he seemed to have been waiting in the wings because he just walked onto the page, fully formed. 
snape approves of salmo slim's sassy-ness...
and my alliteration.
In Rebel Heart, Salmo Slim rattled onto the page, driving his camel cart and singing. I didn't know why or what he was doing in the story until late in the second draft so I just let him do his thing until it became clear. He's a lively old guy; it was quite hard to shut him up. My willingness to meekly accept these character invasions drives my friend Sophie nuts. She says, "Moira! It's your book, you're in charge! When somebody turns up uninvited, stop and ask him what the hell he's doing there and don't let him alone until he tells you!" Slim knew precisely why he was there, turned up on the right page at the right time and hung in there till I figured it all out. I'm always the last to know.
The only time I did character profiles was during the writing of Raging Star. I'd done two months of preparation on plot, characters, structure and themes but around 10,000 words into writing, I realised that there was a very real danger of the book collapsing well before I'd reached the midpoint. And the trouble was with my big cast of characters. I knew the story would move forward as each character made decisions in pursuit of their goal so I had to go back and study them very carefully, one by one.
I have yet to experience the feeling of a character taking control over my writing. *sigh*. So how long did it take between you to have an idea for a novel and it becoming a published, bound book?
Blood Red Road took around four years to become what it is, but you have to take into account that I was a complete novice. First books often take years to write. I started work on the earliest versions of that in the autumn of 2006, various publishers bought it in the spring of 2010 and it was published in June 2011. I started Rebel Heart in August 2010 and it was published two years later in August 2012. Raging Heart kept me busy non-stop from June 2012 until this March, with publication in May so that's just a shade under two years. But these last two books were with well established characters so how long it will take to grow my next story, I really can't say. I'm hoping to start something in the late summer but at the moment I have no characters, no plot, no setting, no story, just the barest itch of an idea, so who knows?
Wow is all I can say, although I really want to become an author - the question is: do i have the patience?! What are the top five things someone needs while writing and why?
Well, all writers are different. I can only tell you what I need, and that is:
I need a space that is mine and only mine where I do nothing but read, write and dream. I wrote Blood Red Road at home and there were far too many distractions. I'm a champion procrastinator, so a space outside of the home is crucial for me.
I don't write quickly. I'd be surprised if I could ever produce a book a year; YA and children's publishing are notoriously demanding of writers.
I work with earplugs in. They don't just muffle outside noise, they seem to silence the chatter inside my head, which is invariably negative and damaging.
It's far too distracting, positively fatal for procrastinators. I have no internet connection in my little writing room. When I'm writing, I also give my mobile phone to someone in one of the other offices and get them to lock it in a drawer. They have strict instructions not to give it to me until the end of the day, no matter how piteously I beg.
Writing is such an intense process that if I didn't have my husband to take care of me,
how to write a book - panic
I would end up a malnourished, babbling mess. Wait. I do end up a malnourished, babbling mess. And that's with his wonderful support, so I can't think what state I'd be in if I didn't have him. I also depend upon my writers' group. We've been together for ten years, ever since we met at a City Lit writing for children course. We meet every two weeks and the simple fact is that I wouldn't be a writer without them. I couldn't do without my agent. She's lovely and kind and wise and the best in the world. She helps to keep me sane. Then there's my wider community of writer friends, all of whom know the ups and downs of the writerly life; I count on them for advice, cups of tea and a good old moan from time to time.
Mhmm. Yup. Internet. Procrastination. I know all about that...In what ways did your first novel change from the first draft to the last and do you wish you had kept any 'deleted' scenes in the final edit?
Oh, it went through radical changes. My first run at the story that would become Blood Red Road was called Dark Eden and was set in the Peak District of the UK during a new ice age at some point in the future. It was told in the third person and had dual narrator viewpoints: Alexander who lived in a tightly controlled hierarchical biosphere society and Saba, a cave dweller in the outside world, who lived in a clan system. I wrote about 20,000 words of that version. The only things that survived and went on were the names Saba, Lugh and Emmi.
The next iteration of Dark Eden was a sprawling, disconnected, absolutely hopeless draft written over three and a bit years. Saba was now the sole narrator, but her voice roamed all over the place, there was an unfeasibly long time gap between the beginning and middle sections and the story was confused, to put it mildly. But. It contained early versions of some characters; Maev
how not to write a book - panic

and the Free Hawks, the Pinches, Ike, Molly and Jack, mostly with different names. Towards the end, there was a lakeside scene between Jack and Saba. As I was approaching the last scenes of Rebel Heart, I thought, "Oh my God! This is where that scene belongs!" Bear in mind this was three years later. There was a deadly attack on the Free Hawk camp in that messy Dark Eden and it turns out that very event was necessary to Rebel Heart. Looking back, I can see that my subconscious was quietly making Rebel Heart while I was struggling with Blood Red Road.
It was a messy, confusing and difficult experience finding my way to and through Blood Red Road. But I learned the value of hanging on to even the most unpromising bits of writing. Now I always keep my deleted work in one document. It's like a big messy shed that I go ferreting in when I'm looking for something specific: "I know I described moonlight coming through a window, now where is it ...?"
That is a very radical change! Haha. Before you started Blood Red Road, had you attempted any other novels? And did you originally plan to make the Dustland Series a trilogy or did it just evolve that way over time?
I wrote a picture book followed by two humorous books for younger readers, which I thought might make a little series. I accumulated a fat file of rejection letters for those, which I've kept. 
rejection letters even affect a cat's mood...
So, I'd never attempted such a large writing project and there was an immense gap between the scale of my vision and my writing skills, which were very basic. I had to learn by doing and failing and trying again, over and over. If it weren't for the ongoing support of my writers' group, I would never have written Blood Red Road, let alone two more books. I certainly didn't plan for it to be a trilogy. If I'd known that's what lay ahead for me, I would have been so petrified I would never have written a word. I had only one goal and that was to somehow finish writing this (insert expletive of your choice) book that had dogged me for so long. But as I was nearing the end of three and a half years' work on that first book, I began to get an inkling that this was just the start of a much larger story for Saba, although I had no idea what that might be.
Rejection letters..I feel like I should prepare myself now for those...How did you go about writing your first novel and do you think the way you wrote and the speed that you wrote changed as you went along? Or was an equal time spent writing each of the three books?
I've talked about this a little bit above, but the main thing is that writing Blood Red Road taught me the necessity of solid, practical, craft skills. By the time I came to write the second and third books, I had a much better understanding of the narrative structure required to move and carry and turn the story and its multiple plot strands and themes. As for my writing speed, if I can write a usable 300 to 500 words per session, I'm satisfied. I'll just add that most writers say it never gets any easier. Every time you start a new book, it's terrifying and seems like an impossible labour. And every book comes to life in a different way. Some have to be squeezed from you, some fly out, some come in fits and starts and you just have to go with it and not fight it. You have to trust the process and write down some words of your story every day and eventually, at the end of it all, you'll have a book.
I need to trust the process. I need to trust the process. *mutters*. Finally, I have read that Blood Red Road is *hopefully* going to be on the big screen someday! What was your first reaction when hearing about that for the first time and do you have any qualms about it? Also, if you could pick any actors at all, current or otherwise, to play your main characters - who would you choose?
When my film agent called, the first thing she said was, "You better sit down." Luckily I did. My legs would have gone when she told me that Ridley Scott had read the unedited manuscript, loved it and wanted to meet me. I'd barely had time to understand that I'd finally finished this damn book, let alone the fact that almost overnight I'd become a person with agents and book deals, oh and there was the little matter of my husband only narrowly avoiding a heart attack in the middle of it all and coming home from hospital full of stents. From Easter to August 2010, I was in a constant state of mild shock. In those four months, my life changed completely.
moira was this you? ;p
Movies are in my DNA. My heart-on-sleeve adoration of them is clear on every page of Blood Red Road. In many ways, it's a sustained homage to every movie I've ever loved, including the films of Ridley Scott. So meeting him was a memorable, extraordinary privilege and a distinctly out-of-body experience.
Do I have any qualms about it? The honest answer is yes, some. But I accept that movies are seldom the same as the books they're based upon. I absolutely trust my producers, who are hugely experienced and passionate about this project, and we've got an excellent screenwriter on board. I know that everybody involved will do their best to do my book justice.    
Thinking of actors is good fun. I'd go for a classic movie star mash-up. Jack would be a combo of Clark Gable, Harrison Ford, Humphrey Bogart and Hugh Jackman, all in their salad days. Saba's a tough one; Sigourney Weaver crossed with Clint Eastwood by way of Jane Greer maybe? I expect they'll be mainly unknowns. Maybe a star will be born. Wouldn't that be something?
that would be something awesome! maybe i'll be that star - i could play saba and become rich and famous and buy a house with wall to wall books and go to BEA and..*le sigh*. nope. anyway! i hope you all enjoyed reading moira's answers but don't leave yet! you haven't entered my giveaway yet.. a Rafflecopter giveaway
terms and conditions
 Fill in the Rafflecopter below - please don't leave personal details in the comments section (for your own safety)
 This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL.
 You must be 13 or older to enter.
 I am not responsible for books lost or damaged in the post
 Giveaway ends on 31st May 2014 at 12am.


  1. Great second stop on the blog tour!

  2. Haven't read the other books yet but they look good, I will definitely be buying them if I don't win them :)

  3. I've been pondering on the idea of reading these books for a while now! Thanks for hosting the giveaway. c:

  4. Heard great things about the Dustlands trilogy but haven't had a chance to read them, although they've been on my TBR list for far too long. Thanks for a chance to win them! :)

  5. Haven't read this trilogy, sadly, and the first time I've heard of them was when my friend asked me to buy the first book for her as a gift. I did, and I got jealous because it seems like a really good book and I want to pick it up.

  6. A friend of mine from GR also loved this trilogy and I really trust her choices because we have the same taste when it comes to books.

  7. Heard great things about this trilogy, can't wait to read it myself!

  8. I've heard great things about this series, can't wait to read it myself!

  9. Haven't read it, would very much like to, especially now I can read it end to end!

  10. To be honest, I've never heard of the Dustland books before. *cringes* So if I'd really like to win them so I can read them and change that opinion ;)

  11. Yes, I read Blood Red Road, but sadly not the rest of the series."crosses fingers and toes"

    Thank you so much for the awesome giveaway!

  12. Love the first one and can't wait to read the rest!

  13. Love the first one and can't wait to get to read the rest! Soon as school is out. :)

  14. I didn't read the series, but I heard nothing but good things about those books. I would love to read them! Thank you for the giveaway! :)

  15. I have not read the books, but I would love to because I heard nothing but great things about the series! Thank you for the giveaway! :D

  16. I have not read the books, but I would love to because I heard nothing but great things about the series! Thank you for the giveaway! :D

  17. I've been meaning to read these books for so long now. Now that the last book is out I need to get all three books!

    Great interview! "No internet" is something I should keep in mind when writing my next paper :D

  18. I've heard great things about them before, it is nice of you to hold this giveaway as well.

  19. I haven't read any of them, but I've heard a lot about them!! The fact that it's a dystopian series makes me need to read it. Like, soon. I love dystopians and this one sounds AMAZING!!

  20. I haven't read the Dust Land series yet. I really like dystopian series and I've seen the reviews saying that it is better than Hunger Games. That spiked up my interest in the story.

  21. I haven't read the Dust Land series yet. I really like dystopian series and I've seen the reviews saying that it is better than Hunger Games. That spiked up my interest in the story.

  22. Havent had a chance to read them, but I would LOVE to!!! I actually met Mrs. Young at a signing, she was sooo nice!
    Diana G.

  23. Great interview! I haven't got the chance to read the Dust Land series, although I already have the book one. I reallyreally wanted to read the series! It sounds amazing :D Thanks for the giveaway!

  24. Great interview! I haven't got the chance to read the series, although I already have the book one, but I reallyreally wanted to read the series, They sound amazing!

  25. Great interview! I haven't got the chance to read the series, although I already have the book one, but I reallyreally wanted to read the series. They sound amazing! Thanks for the giveaway :D

  26. Great interview! I haven't got the chance to read the series, although I alreay have the first book, but I reallyreally wanted to read the series, they sound amazing! Thanks for the giveaway :D

  27. Great interview! I haven't got the chance to read the series, although I alreay have the first book, but I reallyreally wanted to read the series, they sound amazing! Thanks for the giveaway :D

  28. Great interview! I haven't got the chance to read the series, although I alreay have the first book, but I reallyreally wanted to read the series, they sound amazing! Thanks for the giveaway :D

  29. I haven't read the any of them.

  30. I haven't read the any of them.


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