Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rebel Heart: Interview with Moira Young + Giveaway

(Rebel Heart releases October 30th from Simon & Schuster)

I was recently asked to participate in a group phone interview with young adult author Moira Young in which we would all get to ask her our most pressing questions regarding her Dust Lands series. Now, I should mention that as honored as I was to be asked to join the interview, I was also insanely nervous. I don't do any kind of public speaking well, and while this was over the phone and therefore not really public at all, I was still talking to an author and four other bloggers and I was worried they'd get around to me, my mind would shut down, and they'd hear nothing but static and crickets from my end. Awesome. 

Luckily, that didn't happen and I was able to form a few coherent sentences. The other participating bloggers asked some fantastic questions and Moira gave some really in-depth and truly fascinating answers, so I hope you all enjoy the interview!

*apparently I was only supposed to post the questions I posed rather than the entire interview as I posted last night. Well done me. Below is the revised interview*

Ms. Moira Young:  Blood Red Road tells the story of Saba, an 18 year old girl living in the Dust Lands, a vast, dry, lawless place. It starts off with her search for her kidnapped brother and goes on from there.

And it's basically a hero's journey. A western set in the future, I think, I would describe it as, amongst other things.

Jenny:  What's one thing writing Saba's character has taught you about yourself?

Ms. Moira Young:  Oh, well, that’s a very good question. What's one thing? I don't know if I could point to any one thing. The thing that's been surprising to me that she's not apart from me. She is a part of me.

People ask in what way is the character like you or what parts of her are like you. I would say she is absolutely in me.

Of course, I'm not living in a damaged future world, and I'm not fighting in a cage, and my brother hasn't been kidnapped. But those feelings that she has in her situations are all feelings that I've found within myself because I feel like the book lives somewhere in my subconscious and I have to bring it up to the surface.

I've been surprised at the sort of ferocity of that part of myself that has ended up in Saba, that incredible determination. And I guess part of that comes out in the fact that it took me four and a half years to write this book, and I did have to struggle to write it.

All of that was channeled into that character, all of that came out in that character. The fact that all of these characters are parts of me, of my personality, even if I don't use that bit of me on a regular basis or even if I don't know that it exists, that's been a revelation to me, I have to say.

Jenny: And when you say it took four years, was that something that you did constantly, or you set it aside for great periods of time and came back?

Ms. Moira Young: Yes, I did have a period of setting it aside. When I started writing it, it was very different.  It was in a very conventional third person narrative. In fact, it was a dual viewpoint.

The setting was completely different. It was in an ice bound world. There were very few elements of it that bear any resemblance to Blood Red Road as it is now. The only thing that remains the same is that there is a character called Saba.

I wrote perhaps 15,000 words of that book and then had to leave it because we had moved house.  And when I came back to it a couple of months later, I realized that it was not a book that I believed in.  So I started again.

I was also working part time, and so I was doing this on my days off.  And I had no discipline as a writer. I didn't know how to structure a book, a long book particularly.

It was a very halting process. I got discouraged a lot. I left it for periods of time because I just didn't know what to do.

Quite often, writers do take a long time to write their first book, and then it's a terrible shock when you have to write to a deadline after that.

Jenny:  Was there any one thing that surprised you as you were writing? Something that changed unexpectedly or came out different on paper than you had planned in notes or an outline?

Ms. Moira Young:  First of all, I don't plan very much at all. I genuinely have no idea what's going to happen. I really don't, especially in Blood Red Road and Rebel Heart. I really truly had no idea what was going to happen, so I was constantly surprised.

One thing from Blood Red Road that I remember is that, when she was in the cage, and they had planned this escape and the Free Hawks were going to be in the crowd, and then I realized that it would be great to put another obstacle in their way, and I realized that the easiest thing–that the obvious thing and the most horrible thing anybody could do would be to change the gauntlet around so that they have to make their escape through the crowd.

But then I got completely stuck, and I thought how am I going to get out of this situation, I really have no idea. I sort of left it for about a week because I was so terrified that I had no idea how to get her out of this situation.

I've since learned that I really just need to ask my husband because he can always get characters out of trouble with no problem whatsoever.

All of a sudden, I just realized, oh, of course, she'll go through the top and Nero will help her.

And Nero has been fantastic in any number of situations, because he works in three dimensions so he can move into small spaces and he can go places. In an original version, I didn't have her with a crow companion. I had her with a dog. And I was constantly having to worry about what to do with the dog. The crow was a wonderful idea. That was also my husband's idea, to have a crow.

So that was one of the things that surprised me, just getting out of situations like that. And what else particularly surprised me?

I have to admit that I really am constantly surprised. Generally, I get hints that things are going to happen, and I can see them coming up on the horizon. And as I'm writing, I'm saying, oh no, what, what, you're going do what? And then, I just have to go ahead and write it. That seems to be how it happens.

Jenny:  So, does that make writing a second and third book more difficult then, if you don't have a perfectly clear idea where it's going?

Ms. Moira Young: Well, it certainly made the second book agonizing, I must say. The second book was truly agonizing because I didn't know what the third book was going to be about. All I knew was that I would have to set up as much potential conflict as possible that I could draw on for the third book. 

So, I knew that my characters were going to be suffering the fallout from book one, and I would have to set up masses of tension and fractures, I would have to fracture relationships and just leave it on a very uneasy note. That's what I realized would have to happen. I needed to leave the reader wondering.

That was really, really difficult. This book is occurring a little bit differently. I have a better idea of what's going on, but I still have no idea how it's going to end. I truly don't.

Jenny: Oh, goodness, that doesn't leave me with the warm fuzzies. That makes me really nervous.

Ms. Moira Young:  Well, I'm quite nervous, too, actually, to be honest with you. I am quite nervous. I have no idea what's going to happen. I've done masses of reading around the various themes that have been emerging through the two books and that are the spine of it.

I've been reading around the themes and the ideas that I think I might be using in this third book. And I've been going back and really doing very detailed character studies of everybody just so I know exactly where everybody is, what they're feeling from the end of the second book and what their goals are–ultimately, what they're after. Everybody's going have a different agenda.

Heaven knows what's going to happen. It could be interesting.

A huge thank you to Moira for taking so much time to answer my questions!


Thanks to SimonTEEN I have an absolutely amazing giveaway for all of you today! One lucky winner will receive a Dust Lands prize pack including a custom t-shirt, water bottle, and copies of both Blood Red Road and Rebel Heart. *dies* To enter, please just leave a comment regarding the interview along with a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. Giveaway is open to US residents only and will run through midnight on Friday, November 2nd after which time a winner will be chosen and announced on the blog. Good luck everyone!

As an added bonus, SimonTEEN is running a separate Rebel Heart giveaway HERE, so be sure and check it out for another chance to win these fabulous books (this giveaway ends October 31st)!


Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.

Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.


  1. Hmmm...the comment about hero vs. heroine made me think. I've never had a problem with common gendered terms that I grew up with - like waiter v. waitress or actor v. actress. I suppose it's because I grew up with them and they seem familiar. But I've never thought there was any notion that an actress is not as good as an actor or that there is much to be gained by using a non-gendered term. Same with hero vs. heroine. Maybe I don't know enough of the context.
    alisoncanread at gmail dot com

  2. Awesome!!!!!! This Interview is phenomena. since I haven't read the books yet it was amazing to read all about those backstories about dialect and her acting :)

    1. Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to more added agreeable from you! By the way, how could we communicate.
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  3. Wow. This is an informative interview. Thanks for this! It gives a good feel of the series and I got to know the author more.

    -Len of Musings of a Reader Happy

  4. I so need to read book 1, but the library only has a translation and I do fear that the whole speech part might suck

  5. What a great interview! I've forgotten how much I loved Blood Red Road and reading this reminded me that I need to get my hands on Rebel Heart soon! One of the many things I loved about BRR is the writing. It's new and refreshing. Hearing how it came about and its relevance to the story made me fangirl a bit. Also, Jack! Jack is definitely an in the moment kind of guy. He's always bursting with energy which I love!

    Again, great interview and intelligent questions, Jenny and co. <333

    1. gelliephilic(at)yahoo(dot)com :D

  6. Wow...I absolutely LOVE this interview! I've been meaning to read Blood Red Road for a long time now...must get to it someday! Plus, the fact that Saba is one awesome female hero definitely makes me curious about her character and the others as well :) Fantastic interview guys<3

  7. OMG. I'm so going back when I have more time than just to skim this. There's just so much information in this post! I LOVE IT!!

    Very interesting how she came up with the dialect -- that's quite an amalgamation of accents there.

  8. You know, I have never really called a heroine a hero, but I completely want to adopt that now where it fits. :) Brilliant interview! It's interesting to hear this was done over the phone. My speaking abilities are non-existent where my favourite authors are concerned so I could never do that. Well done for pulling it off, Jenny. :)

  9. I agree with your take on a heroine. I feel a strong one is so important, but she has to be real. Not perfect, but relatable and understandable.


  10. I LOVE how Ms. Young talks about Saba like she's a real person, who surprises her, and makes her own decisions.

    Thank you so very much for the giveaway and this awesome interview:)

    ccfioriole at gmail dot com

  11. I love how Moira called Saba a hero and not a heroine. And I can't imagine how different Blood Red Road would have been in an ice element! Thank you so much for sharing this interview!


  12. I have the first book on my wishlist so I haven't had the opportunity to read it yet. I love how the character traits that Moira uses to describe a hero are so true for many of my favorites (like Katniss!). I think resourcefulness is a word people sometimes leave out, but in reality that's an important part of being heroic.

  13. I want that prize pack!!!!!!! Ahhh!! I would totally wear that tshirt too!!

    I read over and over, authors have the hardest time with book 2, I loved Blood Red Road so Im super excited to jump into Rebel Heart.

  14. I loved Blood Red Road. Very different, very well done. I can't wait to get my hands on Rebel Hearts.

    Jordan Evans.

  15. Great interview. I love hearing about how people write. I would be so nervous not knowing how things were going to turn out for my characters. The world sounds interesting.

    Ace5123 at yahoo dot com

  16. I never thought of the words hero and heroine being separated. To me, there really is no difference but I can see where her train of thought is especially if you take in the context of movies where the heroine is regulated to the damsel in distress or only serves as a love interest to the main character like in the James Bond movie. I've yet to read book 1 but I think I'll pick up the audiobook for it as I'm not sure if I could handle the written dialect.

  17. I hate public speaking as well Jenny! I totally would have been just as nervous as you even though it was over the phone. What an awesome opportunity though, and you asked some GREAT questions! Even though I haven't read these books I was still really interested in Moira's answers.

  18. Great interview. Loved your questions and Moira's answers.

  19. I am actually not bad at public speaking and even enjoy it sometimes. I think that makes me odd!


  20. That is pretty cool you got to interview her over the phone! I hate doing things over the phone. I hate talking on the phone to anyone actually. But I have done in person interviews and while I was nervous, I did quite well, I think.
    I haven't read the books yet, but I really need to! And Jenny you asked great questions!

    That MTV quote on the front is actually from my friend (real life) who revews for them. Cool, huh?

  21. Such a great interview. Awesome questions and answers.

    kassiah at fictionators dot com

  22. Yeah for another great interview. I am always impressed that you think of such great questions. I am surprised that the author herself has no idea where the book is going that is just amazing! I have some great things about this series and it is on my list to check out!

  23. Aaahhh, SO nervous about Book 3! I'm so excited too - I really think Young can pull it off. In many ways, I think it's great that she lets the characters take free reign since it truly shows with her unique plot lines, characterization, and writing style, so hopefully she can write Book 3 faster and it'll release before 2014! ;) Also, I LOVE that Saba is a female hero, not a heroine. I TOTALLY agree. I didn't think I could be a bigger fan of Moira Young, but Jenny, you definitely have made me one! Fantastic interview, dear! :D

  24. Wow, I agree with you that her description of book two doesn't leave me with warm fuzzies. I might want to wait to read the second book until closer to publication of the third. Only problem is I have never been good at waiting. Oh well, I guess I will have to deal with the heartache book two seems to be made of.

  25. Great interview! I adored the fist book and need to re-open the second book. Thanks for the giveaway!

    bwithbite at gmail dot com

  26. I loved the first book and can't wait to get into the second. I'm glad that you went with a crow instead of a dog. The crow could get himself to safety easier. Yes, I do think of things like that and worry. :)

    books (dot) things (at) yahoo (dot) com

    Jenny, you did a fantabulous job of interviewing. Don't know why you were nervous. You always rock these.

  27. I so bloody agree!! I really can't wait to get back into this dialect. It was so memorable!!

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

    1. Also, I loved the entire interview. I'm so glad she persevered throughout and made it to a published novel. It's SO worth it!!

  28. I love the fact that Moira was open and honest about the difficulties of writing second, third, etc. books in a series. Unless it's all mapped out, but I know I don't write like that! LOL.


  29. Great interview! Blood Red Road has been on my TBR list for a long time, but now that the sequel is out I really need to get on that. They both look awesome!

    c.j.allison AT hotmail DOT com

  30. It sounds like Moira's writing is an adventure of discovery and surprise, what a fun way to write. :D This sounds like a fantastic series and I'm looking forward to reading it.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

  31. Lol, before revision, this must have been one long post! I wouldn't have minded reading the answers to all the questions, Jenny :)

  32. Thanks for the awesome giveaway. I really want to read these books. They sound very good. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

  33. You are very personable, Jenny--no need to be nervous! But I do get feeling anxious in those settings. Great interview!

  34. That was a great interview! Blood Red Road is one of my favorite books, and I can't wait to get my hands on Rebel Heart. Thanks for the giveaway!


  35. Great interview! I liked how Moira said that the character of Saba is a part of her. That's really interesting! Thanks for the giveaway!

    1. Oops - forgot my email!


  36. It's so exciting that even the author doesn't know how the series will end - that means anything is possible!

    Thanks for the giveaway,
    leannessf at gmail dot com

  37. I love to hear how people write and put a story together! Its def a gift to put down on paper what you have in your head! great interview! Thanks! gootsie_2004@hotmail.com

  38. Thanks for the fabulous post and giveaway! I'm dying to read this series :)


  39. Great looking books and the story sounds fascinating as well. Please enter my name for the chance to win this great package.


  40. Very nice interview. This sounds like a good series.


  41. OMG I have been waiting for so long for Dust Lands to come out!!!!!!!!! XD Ive reread Blood Red Road 3 times now!!!!!!!!! :D

  42. OMG I have been waiting for so long for Dust Lands to come out!!!!!!!!! XD Ive reread Blood Red Road 3 times now!!!!!!!!! :D

    :( I forgot to add my email

  43. Great interview! Thanks for the chance to win!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

  44. This series sounds beyond awesome, I wish I could enter the giveaway but thanks anyway Jenny for the great interview :) !!

  45. Not entering since I'm not in the US, but wanted to comment anyway.

    Loved this interview!! It's so, so interesting to hear from an author who is truly a 'pantser'.

  46. I love the insight into Ms. Young's writing process. I've read a lot of interviews were author's either gloss over how much of a struggle it is, or respond as if there wasn't ever a struggle at all. All experiences are unique of course, but it's still somehow comforting to know that it's not as easy as most people assume. Thanks :)

  47. I loved Blood Red Road and met Moira when she was on tour here last year. She was very entertaining. I must say, I'm a little scared to pick this one up. I might wait until the next one is out to read this one. Well done, Jenny with this interview. I know how easily it is to become tongue tied with authors. :)

  48. The interview is great. Moira Young is just plain awesome. Thanks for the giveaway!

    email addy: dgray(dot)xo(at)gmail(dot)com

  49. I LOVE Blood Red Road. It took me a few pages to get into the groove of Saba's voice and Moira's writing style, but when I did, I couldn't put the book down! I'm SO interested to know what happens next!


  50. Love Blood Red Road and can't wait to read Rebel Heart! Would LOVE to win this prize pack! I love that Moira just asks help from her husband when she needs help with her characters! Thanks for the chance to win!
    saltsnmore at yahoo dot com

  51. Love reading about how stories change through the writing process. Like a dog-sidekick, Nero is much cooler as a crow. Who has crow sidekicks? Brillant! Moira has an awesome husband.

  52. I’m the same way about semi-public speaking, I have gotten better at it, but on Monday I totally bombed an argument because for the first time in years I ended up with dry mouth – it is really hard to talk coherently when your throat closes up.

    I loved the interview :). I always think of authors having a deadline, but I can see how with the first novel, unless you set something up and force yourself to adhere to it, you don’t have to deal with the same pressure. I cannot imagine that was a fun shift.

    Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

    dmr8888 at yahoo dot com

  53. This is a wicked amazing giveaway! I haven't read either book yet because Blood Red Road is always checked out at my library (must mean its wicked good!). I loved the interview and how she said the character was a part of her. I think it really helps a book for the author to be really close to their main character. I can't wait to read these books and see where the third book goes! Thank you so much for the chance to win!


  54. Congrats on writing not one but almost three books. And sometimes you just have to set things aside and just come back to them later.


  55. It was very interesting to read how little changes were made to the book like how Saba"s animal companion was originally a dog. I have to say, a crow is a lot more unique and interesting!
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