Hi everyone! Today I’m so glad to welcome the wonderful Moïra Fowley-Doyle to my blog today with her interview for #LGBTQMonth! She is the author of The Accident Season and the most recently The Spellbook of the Lost & Found. I have unfortunately read neither (yet!) but I have been assured that there are LGBTQ characters in them!
1. Have you any advice for aspiring authors?
Write what you love. Write what you’d want to read rather than what you think other people want to read. Fall in love with it hard and fast and when it starts to feel like a chore step back and change direction. You don’t need to write every day or even every week but you do need to finish what you’ve started. First drafts are never perfect – they’re just you telling yourself the story. Everything else happens in the edits.
2. Snog, Marry, Kill: Rose, Rowan or Ivy?
Kiss Rowan, marry Rose (because presumably marriage leads to more kissing)… and I suppose that means poor Ivy gets the chop.
3. Who are some of your favourite LGBTQ characters from books?
So! I love almost every character in every book by Jeanette Winterson but let’s go especially with Silver in Lighthousekeeping. I also love Nan in Tipping the Velvet and dare anybody not to fall in love with Sue and Maud in Fingersmith, both by Sarah Waters. I love Beth and Nora in The Cure for Death by Lightning by Gail Anderson Dargatz. I love Clove and Ella in The Last Beginning by Lauren James. I love every messed-up character in A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskovitz and in About a Girl by Sarah McCarry. I also love every character in Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente. I love Dirk and Duck in the Dangerous Angels series by Francesca Lia Block and I love Ronan and Adam in the Raven Boys series by Maggie Stiefvater. I love Noah in I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. I love Cameron in The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth and I love Astrid in Ask the Passengers by A.S. King and I’m happy that I can have such a long list of fantastic, layered and nuanced LGBT+ characters that I know will only keep growing.
4. Do you like to write in cafés?
I prefer to write in my office at home because I’m free to move around and stretch when I need to, and the coffee is limitless. I try to write with my whole body – back straight and neck long and wrists bent at the right angle so as to minimise repetitive strain (I’m someone who writes and draws constantly so it’s very easy for me to injure my wrists) – and my office set-up is perfect for long writing sprints and hours at the computer screen. But café writing can be lovely for a little change of scene.
5. Which was more fun to write – Spellbook of the Lost and Found or The Accident Season?
The Accident Season was more fun to write for a few different reasons. I wrote it before I had a publisher or even an agent, and I wrote it before I had kids. I fell in love with it straight away and banged it out in one fast dash – the first draft took only six weeks from first words to the end. I dreamed it every night, I ate and breathed it. I could write all night if I wanted to (and sometimes I did) – it was a huge, immersive experience for that month and a half, and each round of edits (with my agent and then later with my editors) was a new excitement. When it came to writing Spellbook, I was already on deadline. I had just come home from a whirlwind pre-publication book tour for The Accident Season and I had a two-year-old child and a two-month-old baby who didn’t like to sleep for more than two hours at a time, day or night. I was sleep-deprived and hormonal and terrified I wouldn’t be able to pull off the whole writing-a-book thing again. The first draft was a bigger mess than a first draft usually is. I second-guessed myself and held back and it was only after a couple of rounds of edits that I could let myself write brave and true and fall in love with my story. It took a while but once it happened, Spellbook was a wild ride. It was tangled and overgrown and challenging and beautiful and I ended up putting even more of myself into it than I did with The Accident Season and despite the difficulty I had writing it at first – or maybe because of it – Spellbook is the thing I have written that I am the most proud of.
6. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes. I wanted to be a writer when I wanted to be a ballet dancer as a child and I wanted to be a writer when I wanted to be an artist as a teenager. I didn’t always tell people that I wanted to be a writer, but I’ve always written – I wrote my first novel at the age of eight in one of those wide-ruled Aisling copy books that every Irish child had for school, and one day I’m going to rewrite that story because it actually had a pretty great concept. I’ve kept diaries since I could write full sentences and have two giant crates-full in my attic. The earliest are arguably the funniest because when I was five years old I thought that diaries should be written as a list (1. I wok up. 2. I hab my brekfast. 3. I sed “HALLO” to mammy. 4. I sed “HALLO” to daddy. Et cetera) and also because I was an abysmal speller until well into my late teens. I think part of what attracts me to writing is having had the practice of trying to tell my life like a story for so many years. Keeping diaries makes you see stories everywhere.
7. Do you have a set schedule for writing?
I write best in the morning, with a bowl of coffee and my tarot cards beside me. Because I have kids who get up early for preschool I can’t really write into the night anymore. My writing schedule is structured around childminding: I work on weekday mornings until I pick my kids up from school, and two days a week their grandparents take them after school so I can write all day. Although I sometimes miss being able to write whenever and for however long I wanted, I’ve learned that I get focused much faster when I know I only have a few hours to work in – I can’t afford to procrastinate or get distracted so I actually end up diving deeper in. Which means I sometimes get this strange culture shock when I have to resurface and be a human being again.
8. What would you tell your younger self?
I’d tell her to keep going and I’d tell her to be brave. I’d tell her to follow her instincts, to take up space, and to not be afraid to make a mess.
9. Do you have any unpublished or half-finished books? If so, would you ever consider returning to them?
Well like I said I wrote this pretty great book when I was eight that I totally plan on coming back to… I pilfer thoughts and characters from my younger self all the time. Parts of The Accident Season started life as a (very different) short novel I wrote when I was 16 and two of the characters in Spellbook were plucked from a book I started in my early twenties but never finished. The book I’m working on now grew from a story I wrote when I was ten or eleven which became the beginnings of a novel when I was a teenager which became the roots of this book, now. I should add that to the advice to give to writers: cut ruthlessly but keep everything. You never know where it’ll end up two decades down the line.
10. And finally, what are you working on next?
I’m working on a weird, tangled book about a family and a bull and three old witches and the sea but because it’s still at the first draft stage I can’t say very much about it. I like that books are kept secret until they’re announced, though. It’s gestating; it’s still forming. I’m not sure what manner of creature it’ll come out as, but I’m excited to find out.
And so are we! Thank you so much for interviewing and I hope to see you all back here tomorrow for wonderful extracts from History is All You Left Me!