Super excited to have Moriah McStay on the blog today! Her debut Everything that Makes You is one I’ve been very keen to read since I first heard about it. I’ve always been very intrigued by ‘What if’ scenarios and to have a YA book focused on this theme immediately made me go all grabby hands! I can’t wait to dive into this one. Publishers Weekly called Everything that Makes You “Entertaining and intellectually stimulating, the novel invites discussion about how much of a person’s life is determined by events and whether some tendencies are inborn.”
The Amazon Synopsis:
Ever wonder “What if?” Everything That Makes You is a romantic, epic story about one girl—and her two possible lives after an accident changes her fate.
Fiona Doyle’s face was horribly scarred as a child. She writes about her frustrations and dreams in notebooks, penning song lyrics. But she’d never be brave enough to sing those songs in public. Fi Doyle never had an accident. She’s the best lacrosse player in the state and can’t be distracted by her friend who wants to be more than that. But then her luck on the field goes south.
Alternating chapters between Fiona and Fi tell two stories about the same girl—hopes and dreams and crushes, fears and failures and loss. This beautifully written realistic contemporary novel with a twist is perfect for fans of If I Stay by Gayle Forman and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.
Now that we know a bit about Moriah’s debut, let’s get to know Moriah!
Favorite book(s) read in the last year?
This is a hard question! I’ve read so many books through Fearless Fifteeners and Class 2k15, both debut groups for MG and YA writers publishing in 2015. Here’s an off-the-top-of-my-head list of books currently available. It’s by no means exclusive (and not all YA)
• Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
• Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
• Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
• The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (this was a reread, but always a favorite.)
• The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
The Princess Bride. Elf. Raising Arizona.
Favorite tv shows?
I don’t watch a ton of TV, but Sherlock has me hooked.
Bacino’s Spinach stuffed pizza in Chicago.
Anything with lentils.
R.E.M. has been my favorite band since I was 16. I love Jack White, too. Lazaretto is a current favorite song. Oh, and Lonely Boy by the Black Keys
Favorite travel destinations so far?
This is a toughie. Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands were pretty amazing. I’m not a particularly religious person, but I’ve never felt closer to God than at Big Sur in California. Scotland and Ireland are beautiful, in an aching kind of way.
Where in the world would you like to go next?
I’d love to get to Asia. My husband’s family comes from Korea, and it would be great introducing our kids to that half of their culture.
What are your hobbies outside of writing?
I like to be outside—walk the dogs, or even just sit on my front porch and read. I do yoga, and try to work out three or more times a week. I read a lot, but most of my free time is sucked up by my three teenage daughters.
Do you have any pets?
Two lovable but devilish dogs who escape my backyard all the time. Molly is half golden retriever- half poodle and Luna is half wheaten terrier-half poodle. Extra points if you guess the common theme of their names. (Hint: our late boxer was named Hagrid.)
My dogs, kindly offering to join me on the treadmill.
If you could be any fictional character from a book, movies or the television, who would you be and why?
Hermione Granger, because she’s magic.
Everyone has a bit of an inner geek inside them, can you tell us what causes you to geek out?
Books, totally. It’s my go-to conversations at all awkward social events. What are you reading? What’s your favorite book? I get especially excited when someone tells me about a book I’ve never heard of, or wouldn’t think to read. It’s like a little life lesson, over cocktail food.
Now that we’ve gotten to know you better, can you tell us about your inspiration for Everything that Makes You?
I wanted to write this story a long time. Like Fiona, I was in an accident as a child. It wasn’t nearly as bad as Fiona’s, but my right eye was badly damaged, and looked quite different than my left. You could tell. I got lots of questions, couldn’t play contact sports, had to wear big glasses. As I got older, I wondered what parts of my personality changed because of that freak accident. Or maybe none did.
In college, I engaged in this “what if” conversation with friends, and everyone had at least one moment of their own. Maybe not an accident, but an incident in middle school. A sick parent. A move from one city to another. I thought it’d be cool to write a book about it. So eventually (many, many years later) I did!
In a single sentence, how would you describe your novel?
It’s a book about what ifs.
I’m loving the title. How did you come up with it?
My editor Jill Davis did. We went through several lacklustre ones, none of which thrilled either of us. Then, as she was making copy edits on a draft, she sent me an email that said, in all caps, EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU. JACKSON JUST SAID IT!
Everyone liked it, and so it stuck. I revised one of Fiona’s later songs, with the new title in mind.
Can you describe your writing process or schedule?
I write during the day, while my kids are at school. I try to get a solid six hours or so in every day. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t.
How long did it take you to write Everything that Makes You?
I had the idea for over fifteen years. Once I finally worked up the nerve to write it, it took about eight months before I had something solid enough to submit to agents. My agent didn’t ask for any real changes, so that was the draft purchased by Jill Davis at Katherine Tegen Books at HarperCollins.
What are you most looking forward to about your debut year?
Feeling like a real writer. This is my full-time job now. It’s nice to point to a tangible thing and say, “This. This is what I do.”
Since I’m a movie addict, would you be willing to indulge me and give us your dream movie cast for the book?
This is so funny. When a lot of people hear ETMY’s concept, they say, “Oh, like Sliding Doors.” It’s a movie from the late 90s starring Gywneth Paltrow. In honor of that, I always pictured her as Caroline Doyle, Fiona/Fi’s perfect mom.
I don’t have an idea for any other characters, though my daughters would probably insist we find some role for Dylan O’Brien, so we could invite him over to dinner.
Thanks for visiting the blog Moriah!
Want to connect with Moriah? Check out her website and follow her on twitter.
Check back with the blog on Wednesday for an interview with Jenny Martin the author of Tracked!