This month we have the perfect author for the transition from darker Hallowe’en reading, to the Winter/Christmas book pile. What better to have than a dystopian series? Madeline is a full-time writer who, despite her dystopian genre, is still in touch with the classics, from Dickens to Woolf. I’m feeling inspired to cosy up and focus on my own writing projects after reading this, so whether you’re looking for a new series to read, or something to get you writing, you’ll find it here.
About the author
MADELINE DYER lives on a farm in the southwest of England, where she hangs out with her Shetland ponies and writes young adult books—sometimes, at the same time. She holds a BA Honours degree in English from the University of Exeter, and several presses have published her fiction. Madeline has a strong love for anything dystopian, ghostly, or paranormal, and she can frequently be found exploring wild places. At least one notebook is known to follow her wherever she goes.
Describe your ideal writing atmosphere.
I always find I write best in a quiet room with no distractions—preferably not too hot either—but I can pretty much write anywhere. I most often listen to music when I’m drafting and require complete silence when editing.
How long have you been writing and what inspired you to start?
Ever since I was little, I’ve been writing. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t! I grew on The Roaches in the Peak District, and the landscape there is phenomenal: wild, rugged, inspiring. My first stories were about fairies who lived in the rock formations. As an older child, we moved to Devon, and Dartmoor became my inspiration. So I’d definitely say that being surrounded by wilderness inspired me to start writing. I always feel much more creative when in nature.
Describe your writing style.
My writing style has been described by others as dark, gritty, and intense. To me, it’s truthful. It looks at characters who are in dire situations and it examines dystopian worlds that aren’t that far from our own current societies. I think that’s what makes my writing seem quite dark, because it’s the relationship between our world and the dystopian setting—and how the two interact—that encourages readers to view things in a different light.
Some of the topics my books cover are also dark too, things you might not automatically expect to find in young adult literature, like addiction (in Untamed), insanity (in A Dangerous Game), and torture and mind control (in Untamed and Divided). But I think it’s important not to shelter teenagers too much as they read. And addiction, especially, is something that teens may—and do—experience.
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison
What kind of story that hasn’t been written yet do you want to read?
I don’t believe there’s any story that hasn’t already been written in some way, but it’s the execution of it that really defines the story. I’d love to write a dark, twisty YA thriller one day.
Name any authors or books that have had an impact on your writing.
Oh, where to start! Jean M. Auel and the Bronte sisters really inspired me tell stories looking at human nature and survival. I fell in love with the writing styles of Teri Terry and Rick Yancey. And I absolutely adore anything written by Charles Dickens.
Describe the moment you truly felt like an author.
This was probably at my first book signing, a couple of weeks after my second novel had released. It was a small signing at my local library, but seeing my friends and family turn up to support me—and talking with strangers about my books—really made me feel like an author.
What book by another author do you wish you’d written?
I don’t actually have one, as I believe the beauty of reading amazing books others have written is all about the sensations they give you. It’s what these books mean to you when you’re reading them and the words are completely new to you, when you’re given insight into someone else’s world. And the exact effect these books have on you would only be achievable by that specific author. If I’d have written any given book that I love, it would be a completely different book, and I wouldn’t love it for the reasons that I do now.
What is the best thing about writing/being a writer?
Definitely hearing from readers. Knowing someone loved reading your book just as much as you loved writing it (even when at times you hated it!) really means so much.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Just to write. Get in the habit of writing every day if you can, no matter how many words it is. But also don’t put so much pressure on yourself. And never compare an already-published book to your own first draft. They’re going to be different, and you can’t see just how many rewrites, revisions, and edits the published one has already gone through.
Tell the story behind your latest book, why did you write it?
My latest book is A Dangerous Game. It’s a standalone dystopian tale set in the same world as my Untamed series, though it takes place before the events of the series. Keelie is the narrator of A Dangerous Game, but she never actually appears in the Untamed series—she’s just referred to several times by other group members.
As I was writing the Untamed series, I just knew I wanted to examine Keelie more. She’s this great character—loud, confident, and always up for a laugh, yet she’s also struggling to find her own identity in a world that wants to place her in strict boxes, and she’s dealing with her own rocky mental health that’s only inches away from spiralling out of control. She’s got a complex past, one that she’s been desperate to hide and prevent dominating her current life, and so I wanted to look at what would happen when someone from her past turned up and she could no longer keep the two separate. I wanted to see what effect this was would have on her decisions, her mental health, and her family.
And, so, A Dangerous Game was born.
Most inspiring quote?
Oh, definitely this one by Virginia Woolf:
“I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in as usual.”
Which author (living or dead) would you like to have dinner with?
I’ll go for Virginia Woolf! I studied her for a whole module in my third year at Exeter University and really love her writing. She also had a very interesting life.
If you could bring any fictional character to life, who would you choose?
Probably Ayla from The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel.
How do you beat writers block?
Because writing is my full-time job, I don’t allow myself to have writer’s block. Other professions don’t have it, and I think singling it out as a thing only applicable to creative professions is dangerous—it almost seems to suggest that creative careers need to be looked at different, like they’re not ‘real’ careers. So, I always make sure that I do write every day. I think working on multiple manuscripts at the same time really helps though.
Give yourself some writing advice.
To not put so much pressure on yourself!
What are your plans for the future? What writing projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently editing Destroyed (the final book of the Untamed series), and I’ve got plans for another Untamed standalone at some point. Soon, I’ll also be drafting the sequel to my latest project—a YA science fiction story—which my agent currently has, so I want to get started on that in the next couple of months or so as well.
UNTAMED (Untamed series #1)
**2017 SIBA Award Winner for Best Dystopian Novel**
In a world where addiction is encouraged, one girl must fight to stay clean…
As one of the last Untamed humans left in the world, Seven’s life has always been controlled by tight rules. Stay away from the Enhanced. Don’t question your leader. And, most importantly, never switch sides–because once you’re Enhanced there’s no going back. Even if you have become the perfect human being.
But after a disastrous raid on an Enhanced city, Seven soon finds herself in her enemy’s power. Realizing it’s only a matter of time before she too develops a taste for the chemical augmenters responsible for the erosion of humanity, Seven knows she must act quickly if she’s to escape and save her family from the same fate.
Yet, as one of the most powerful Seers that the Untamed and Enhanced have ever known, Seven quickly discovers that she alone holds the key to the survival of only one race. But things aren’t clear-cut anymore, and with Seven now questioning the very beliefs she was raised on, she knows she has an important choice to make. One that has two very different outcomes.
Seven must choose wisely whose side she joins, for the War of Humanity is underway, and Death never takes kindly to traitors.
“A fantastic dystopian tale. Highly recommended for fans of strong heroines and intriguing sci-fi worlds.” Pintip Dunn, New York Times bestselling author of the Forget Tomorrow Series.
A DANGEROUS GAME
From the author of the Untamed series comes a thrilling and addictive dystopian romance tale set in the same perilous world. A Dangerous Game is a gripping read for seasoned Untamed fans and a perfect starting point for readers new to Madeline Dyer’s Untamed world.
What wouldn’t you do for love?
All her life, adrenaline-junkie Keelie Lin-Sykes has known what she wants: to protect her brother and sisters by killing as many of the soulless Enhanced Ones as she can. Oh, and to have fun while she’s doing it. After all, hiding in a secret Untamed community, while the group’s Seer warns them of danger, shouldn’t mean that life can only be serious, right?
But, when a face from her past suddenly–and secretly–shows up, Keelie’s catapulted back into the very world she’s been trying to escape from for the last ten years: a game full of guilt, lies, and…love. And the deeper Keelie gets, the bigger the risks become.
Now, Keelie must deceive those she values most in order to protect them, even though her actions will destroy everything she knows and haunt her family forever. But she can’t ignore her feelings–not again. And Keelie will do anything to be with the man she loves.
Covers designed by Molly Phipps at We Got You Covered Book Design
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