Sunday, February 14, 2016

Interview With Moriah McStay Author of Everything That Makes You

Today we have Moriah McStay author of Everything That Makes You. Moriah is a member of the Midsouth SCBWI and this is her debut novel.
Your story about Fiona and Fi were woven together so seamlessly, how did you come up with this idea and what did the writing process look like?

When I was little, I was in an accident that left me blind in one eye. You can’t notice much now, but I got lots of questions, couldn’t play sports, had to wear big glasses. Later on—in high school and college—I wondered which parts of my personality that accident shaped. If it never happened, who would I be? And what about my family? How did the accident shape their lives? What about my friend whose father died when she was young? Or the classmate with cancer? How did those events shape them? There are so many “what ifs.” We all have them. 

So I decided I wanted to explore this idea—comparing the same person, with two different realities. It took a while for Fiona and Fi’s story to take shape from that general idea. I wrote it in a short period of time, but with long, long days and weeks. Once the details started falling into place—the different ways they intertwined—it sort of possessed me!

How did you decide how to write the alternate stories and keep them straight?
In my head, the idea was always alternate stories—it’s the crux of the idea. Keeping them straight was tricky. I used different fonts, and sticky notes covered everything.

I'm a little bit familiar with Memphis. I've been to the zoo, the Peabody and the Rendezvous. Where would I find Otherlands? I love that this is a real place.
Otherlands is in midtown Memphis--on Cooper, a few blocks away from Central Avenue. It looks exactly like I described it. You should totally check it out!

What is your favorite drink there?
Just coffee, a little milk and sugar.

That's they way I like my coffee too. Are you writing your next story there or do you choose a different setting to write in and about? That is a neat idea I will have to try!
I wrote at Otherlands because I didn’t have a dedicated work space at home. I have an office now, so most of my writing happens at home. I work on a treadmill desk, which I love!

What a great way to get writing done and get a workout in too.
This was your debut novel! Walk us through the timeline of completion of the story to the sale, when the agent came on board and editor/publisher.
Once I really sat down and focused, it took about ten months to get a solid, submittable draft. After that, at least three months to get an agent. I signed with Steven Chudney in November of 2012—right before Hurricane Sandy! Everything slowed way down because of that and the holidays, so not much happened with editors until January. I got an offer from Jill Davis at Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins in March of 2013. Jill and I edited a year, and then it went into the copy-edit and marketing stage. My debut of March 2015 was almost exactly two years to the date of sale.

What past experiences from your life and past seven jobs influenced you as a writer?
Oh gosh, who knows! Looking back, I have to admit those seven jobs happened because I was trying not to be a writer. The idea scared me!  It took me a long time to suck it up and just get on with it. 

Feel free to add anything else you would like readers to know about you and your upcoming work.
I’m plussing away on the next book. After some false starts, Jill Davis and I are both excited about a historical fiction I’m working on. Too early to go into many details, but I’m really excited about it!

I look forward to reading your next novel. I love historical fiction. Thank you for sharing Moriah. Some takeaways from the interview:

1. Get focused.
2.Overcome your fears.
3. Write where ever you can, it may help with the story.

Thank you for visiting this week and don't forget to enter for the February book giveaway.


Evelyn said...

Thank you, Moriah, for an interesting interview, and thank you, Sheila, for hosting. The book concept sounds really interesting, but it also sounds like it would've been hard to write. Congratulations to you on your success!!

Linda Carpenter said...

Great post. I love hearing about the journey of a book!