Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Interview w/ M.J. Moores

You started writing at a very young age. What types of stories did you lean more towards in your early stages of writing?

I loved adventures. Indiana Jones, The Goonies, you name it… those movies inspired me because of their excitement, daring, and slime! I wrote a 10 chapter novella for my grade 4 teacher (she’d only asked for a 3 page short story) called The Enchanted Jungle Figure that very closely resembles the overriding concept of Lord of the Flies but the difference lies in the fact that my friends and I find an enchanted castle run by giant tigers who capture one friend who went off on his own. In the castle there are all kinds of booby-traps to overcome. I loved writing it! Then I went on to write Death Cave and various other edge-of-your-seat suspense and adventure stories all involving my close friends and me!

Do you have a muse?

Not a concrete one, no. I found out later in life that many of the movies that inspired me were either written or produced by George Lucas, but the man himself was never a real entity to me. Consciously I loved (and still do) the imaginations of C. S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle but that was more as a pre-teen. In high school R. L. Stine rocked my shelves and supernatural or sixth-sense writing became dominant on my reading list. Today my go-to writers for inspiration and love of storytelling are a couple of not-so-well-known fantasy writers: Kristen Britain and Maria V. Snyder… I will devour anything they write and I have personally studied how Snyder builds her plots, characters, and pacing in order to influence my own craft.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Fall in love with your ideas but always strive to better your craft. In order to make your work viable in today’s market place you not only need a strong story that your target reader can connect to, but you have to love it enough to return to it time and again to make it the best possible version of itself – I am still attending conferences, reading writer’s magazines, and going to workshops to improve my craft. The moment you think you know everything is the moment your writing becomes stagnant.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

I don’t get writer’s block. I know! Stone me now – hate me, despise me if you must… The fact of the matter is that I’m a planner and not a pantser when it comes to writing. Because of the technique I employ to research key areas of my story and hash out the skeleton of my plot before I even allow myself to start writing, gives me a reservoir of ideas and information to pull from while writing. IF I do get ‘stuck’ where I’m not sure how to bridge two scenes, I’ll go for a walk and by the time I get home again my brain has daydreamed and subconsciously done its thing where I can sit down again and keep going. Now, I’m not saying all planners are like me, nor am I saying all pantsers have difficulty with writer’s block… I’m just saying that because of the way I choose to prepare myself I’m 99% of the time block-free.

After a year of community college, the university you then attended told you that it wasn’t possible to complete a double practicum, yet you pulled it off and were the second to do so in the history of the program. Can you tell us what you encountered, while working toward your double practicum?

A lot of hard work and perseverance – but I loved what I was doing (most of the time). In my first year I decided immediately that I was going to specialize and that instantly turned a three-year degree into a four-year one. Then, after being accepted to the concurrent teachers education program (that means studying both Theatre Production, a practicum-based degree, and Teachers Ed., my second practicum-based degree) I added an extra year onto my studies. A practicum simply means a practical application for what I’m learning. So, in Theatre Production that meant that every semester I had to work on one of the theatre shows being produced by the university. I was expected to start work at 6pm and finish by 11pm four out of five weekdays and 1 day on the weekend. I’m sure you’re first question will be, “When did you find time to study for tests or write papers?” and I’d have to say, “But wait, that’s not all.” My Teaching practicum meant that one day a week I had to be in the classroom teaching and then for a block of time at the end of each school year I was in the classroom every day as the main teacher of all the subjects (I started by teaching grade 4-10 and that meant time in elementary or public schools). So, I had to not only complete my studies for Theatre but plan good lessons to teach the kids and do studies for two other teaching classes/year besides my practicum class… are you starting to see why I was highly advised not to this? But I’m stubborn and determined and did it anyway!

You taught elementary and high school English for ten years. What can you tell us about your teaching years and what, if any, influence did teaching have on your own writing?

My first year out of university found me without a job so I took to tutoring and stayed with my part-time job at the university library. Then, I got into a school board as a supply teacher. My first year actually teaching in classrooms saw me in various schools in the elementary/public system. Most often I taught grade 7 or 8 as those are the teachers who are either involved in a lot of extracurricular stuff or really need a break – lol! In my second year I did longer part-time assignments in some of those same schools for two and three months at a time instead of a day or two here and there with the supply teaching. But I still wasn’t getting enough work, so I put my name in for high school supply teaching and my third year saw me working full-time hours working for both levels. But no matter how hard I tried, there didn’t seem to be room for me anywhere full-time at one or even two schools, so I got my Senior upgrade to be able to teach English and Drama in grades 11 and 12. So year four saw me mostly in high school classes trying to learn the ropes and make connections, but still only supply teaching most of the time. By year five I was being hired on as an English and Drama teacher for one and two semesters at a time but it was still for other people’s leaves of absence or maternity leaves – when this was still the case five years later (my tenth year actually teaching in classrooms) I realized I was bad a politicking and school’s were shrinking, not growing… there was no room for new teachers in the system, so I turned to my writing and editing abilities to strike out on a new road.

I don’t think I could say that my time teaching has dramatically influenced my writing in any way but it did allow me to fall in love with sharing my passion. I led a creative writing club as an after school program once a week and helped to empower young writers in finding their voice and having goals. I also met the husband of one of the teaching assistants who was getting ready to publish his first fiction novel; he invited me to join his critique group. That followed me when I left teaching and I started my own group when his disbanded shortly after I gave birth. Being a part of these writing groups led to me joining few other regional groups and my writing as a result of that chain of events has never been better. My desire to help new and emerging writers has blossomed into a resource website called Infinite Pathways where I do my best to help any way that I can.

How do you get inspired to write?

First, I need to be fully awake. So no, I’m not a morning person when it comes to writing when inspiration has run away screaming. If an idea of mine has been churning and bubbling for a while without release, I need to sit down and get it out. On the flip side, if I read an incredible book I can’t wait to get back to my own writing.

You love reading adventure books, but chose to write science fiction and fantasy. Can you tell us why you chose these genres?

The endless worlds science fiction and fantasy can bring me and my readers to – there are so many more adventures I can be a part of somewhere other than earth. Also, writing about skydiving or action-based chases across the globe always makes me second guess if I’ve done my research correctly. For some reason, if I haven’t experienced it personally then I won’t write about it in contemporary fiction. That being said, the newest series I’m planning is an urban contemporary fantasy with supernatural overtures and while I’ve never bartended, my mother waited tables at a bar when I was a kid; and while I’ve never driven a motorcycle, my father and my mother’s ex-boyfriend did… so those are near-experiences that I am able to draw on that help with the goal of writing believable contemporary fiction. And, as much as I love a good mystery I don’t seem to be able to think the right way in order to make them work in my own writing. Sure, I have elements of mystery and mysterious things but I’m more comfortable with speculative fiction.

I love that your writing focuses on the internal journey of your characters. Do your readers generally learn about themselves and tend to face their darkest fears along with your characters?

I hope so… I mean, this is my debut novel and other than close friends and family who read my early drafts, I don’t know how my writing affects the general public. I infuse a lot of my own experiences into my writing but with greater intensity (most of the time). So I know that if I felt a certain way or asked that question someone else out there is thinking and feeling those things too. It’s like the old saying ‘there are no stupid questions’ because someone else is bound to be wondering the same thing.

What do you do in your spare time?

What spare time? I guess right now I can say that I write – that’s when  my toddler is eating his breakfast or taking a short nap in the afternoon or I’ve managed to steal an hour to myself after my husband and I eat dinner before I go to bed for the night. What I used to do in my spare time before I decided to have a child was dance acrobatics or jazz, go to the movies (anything action-packed), sing, play video games, wood work, and visit friends. I don’t include reading in my ‘spare time’ because I have to literary carve out specific hours to get through a novel in a realistic amount of time – this (as is writing) is a vital necessity to my living and breathing which is why neither can really be listed as being done in spare time.

Interview provided by: Debra Mauldin


The end of the word or just some nut-job trying to get innocent people killed to validate his own endgame? Taya's not sure, but either way it's up to her discover the truth between fate and destiny in this divided land.

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About the Author:

M.J. Moores

M. J. Moores began her career as an English teacher in Ontario, Canada. Her love of storytelling and passion for writing has writing has stayed with her since the age of nine. M. J. relishes tales of adventure and journeys of self-realization. She enjoys writing in a variety of genres but speculative fiction remains her all time favorite.

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