Sunday, December 11, 2011

Guest Interview with Author Dalya Moon

Dalya Moon writes novels that are called “sweet” and “light-hearted.”  She may have to one day murder someone (on the page) to be taken seriously, but for now she’s happy to not be taken seriously at all.  She is the author of Charlie Woodchuck is a Minor Niner and Practice Cake,
which are both available at digital outlets like and

Welcome and thanks for taking the time to do the interview.

DM: Thanks for interviewing me for your blog!

How do you decide how steamy is too steamy for  young adult (YA) novels?

DM: If the beta readers (friends who read early versions for feedback) are writing "hot!" in the margins, it might be too steamy. If your mom says it made her uncomfortable, it might be too steamy. If you are kept awake at night worrying it may be too steamy, well, you get the picture.

I had to shorten a few scenes in Practice Cake, but I'm sure sophisticated readers can fill in the blanks, and the innocent or sensitive need not be offended. Some teens like to read a book that's fun and not full of smutty-smut, and I respect their wishes. Looking at the daughters of my friends and seeing how young fifteen really also gives me some perspective.

Are your friends more or less willing to share stories with you (because you’re an author)?

DM: I do get in trouble sometimes. A friend was upset that I'd used a detail from her life for Practice Cake: the time she posted her dead goldfish as her Facebook photo. The thing is, I wasn't even thinking about her specifically when I wrote that. To me, everything my friends do or say goes into a big folder labelled "stuff humans do," and I access that folder constantly. None of my characters are based on real people, so I haven't gotten in too much trouble. I think details and anecdotes are fair game, but copying an entire person would be too far.

Do you stick to an outline or do you write whatever you’re feeling?

DM: I like to write a simple outline, then completely ignore it about a third of the way in. By the end of the first draft, my writing speed increases because I'm in a panic about the ending and racing toward it nervously. I change a lot of things during revisions, which I probably wouldn't if I were better at outlining.

Which author(s) have influenced you the most?

I admire and respect so many authors, especially contemporary ones, like Douglas Coupland. He's my favorite because his characters feel real and his writing style is exciting. He can be a little dark at times, so I understand he's not for everyone, but when I read Life After God, it made me want to "borrow someone else's jacket" and become a writer.

Is it harder to write the second novel?

DM: No, it's easier! And yet, still not as easy as you hope it will be. The process is like moving house or apartment. You're enthusiastic, you have a plan, and it's going to go so smoothly this time, you promise yourself. Then you're in the midst of it, and you sit down and have a little cry that it will never be finished. Someone gives you a kick in the butt and tells you to get back to work, so you do, and once it's done and you're looking back over your accomplishment, the hard parts dim in your memory and all you remember is the good.

What is the best review you’ve received? Do you revisit it for motivation on slow days?

DM: Every new positive review feels like the best review ever. I don't need to print them out, because they're always in my mind. The bad reviews are in there too, thanks to the curse of excellent memory.

One of my friends commented on an early story that the characters were decent enough, so maybe I could use them for something else. At the time, I was hurt, because I figured if my friends didn't love my stories, then who would? It stopped me in my tracks, but then, somehow, I got over it. I found a way to believe in myself. Friends and family are supportive, but I'm my own Number One Fan. I laugh and cry over my stories. I genuinely enjoy writing and revising, and I think it comes across in the end product.  So, that, along with the good reviews on constant repeat in my brain, are my motivation.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

DM: 1. Nobody's stopping you! Seriously, look around. Nobody's looking. Nobody even needs to know until you're ready to share.
2. Inspiration has a way of finding you when you're at your computer with the internet turned off, or at a coffee shop with pen and paper.
3. If you can find the cross-section of Things You Want to Write and Things People Want to Read, you'll be happier.

Thanks to Dalya for the interview!

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