For the record, please state your name.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I wouldn’t say anything in particular inspired me to be a writer, I’ve just always been a writer. Writing, for me, is a calling. I have to do it, I have no choice. And it’s something I love so much. It’s part of me and it gives me an identity.
How long have you been writing for?
Ever since I was little! I remember when I was about eight or nine we had to write a short story at school. We had one lesson to write it in, and one to type it up in. When I began typing mine up, I kept finding things I wanted to change, and so—naturally—I rewrote it as I typed it, and added in a whole new sub-plot and then changed the beginning. In the hour we had to type up our stories, I never finished doing so (because I was rewriting it), and my teacher wasn’t very happy!
About a week or so later, my parents encouraged me to sit down at home and finish writing the story by hand. It was seven A4 pages long and I was very proud of it.
From then on, I’ve always been writing. I was sixteen when I started writing seriously, and had my first short story accepted for publication. In the three years that followed, I had fourteen more short stories published, and four publishers made offers on my debut novel, Untamed. Aged nineteen, I signed with Prizm Books and they released Untamed as part of their YA mainstream/dystopian line a year later, in 2015.
Now, I’m a full-time writer and I just love writing so much.
What’s your writing style like?
My writing style tends to be quite fast-paced with lots of action. I’ve also been told by my editor that my voice is pretty unique, and my style is quite ‘bodily’, focusing on how my character’s emotions are written onto their body and portrayed in their behavior.
What’s your favorite genre to write/read in and why?
I mainly write speculative fiction—science fiction, fantasy, and dystopians—because I love the freedom this category offers and how I can really connect with (and engage) my imagination. I also love the otherworldly aspect of these genres too, how anything can happen, and how it offers the perfect medium for escapism from the mundanity of everyday life. Yet there are often powerful messages in speculative fiction novels that can be applied to today’s societies—particularly in dystopian fiction, as the relationship between dystopian societies and our own (and how the two interact) is so fascinating and often delivers powerful political messages about our current world.
I read very widely, and as such have quite a few favorite genres. Naturally, I love science fiction, fantasy, and dystopian books. But I also love thrillers—and, incidentally, I’ve been working on a thriller for young adults—as well as detective novels, and Victorian sensation novels. It wasn’t until I studied nineteenth century literature at university that I realized just how much I love authors such as Charles Dickens, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, and Charlotte Bronte. And I even wrote my dissertation in my final year on the relationship between madness and death in Louisa May Alcott’s sensation stories.
What’s your least favorite genre to write/read in and why?
Hmm, tricky. I write what calls to me, what I feel most attracted to, so I haven’t really got a ‘least favorite’ genre to write. My writing tends to be very close to me, and I have to feel engaged and want to write it—if I don’t how can I expect readers to want to read it? And trust me, readers will know if I didn’t enjoy writing it.
In terms of reading, I’m not that keen on graphic horror or westerns, and as such haven’t really read any.
What inspired the Untamed series?
For a while, I’d been wanting to write a dystopian story. It started off as a bit of an experiment, as I wanted to see if I could do it—up until then, I’d only written fantasy—but I quickly fell in love with the feel of the writing.
The very first idea behind the Untamed series (the artificial emotions that the Enhanced Ones are addicted to) came from the music video for “La La La” by Naughty Boy featuring Sam Smith. It’s the market scene about halfway through where what appears to be a human heart is being sold, and I just thought what if everything a heart represents could also be bought easily at a market? And thus, the idea for the augmenters—the chemical emotions that the Enhanced are addicted to—was born.
From then on, the characters came to me, and the idea evolved and the world revealed itself to me.
While writing the Untamed series, did you have anything playing in the background, if so what?
This is tricky because I know that when I wrote the first draft of Untamed in 2013, I always wrote with music playing. But I can’t remember what it was, nor can I find the playlist. It was about a year later, when I suddenly stopped listening to music as I write. Now I only use it when I’m planning or to get my mind into the right ‘space’ before I begin drafting or editing—but never when I’m actually typing the story now.
What inspired the characters in the Untamed series?
I’m not really sure, they just came to me as fully-fledged characters, and they seemed so real to me. Sure, I didn’t know everything about each of them right from the start, but they revealed themselves to me as I wrote (and rewrote) them. And I find that’s always the case with all my characters. I can never pin-point anything exact that inspired them.
Out of all the characters in the Untamed series, who was your favorite to write and why? Who was your least favorite to write and why?
My series is told from the point of view of my main character, Seven Sarr, and I love to write her. I love how she’s quiet but still strong, and how she grapples with feelings of insecurity and questions her identity, while still maintaining a logical view of the world around her.
I haven’t really got a least favorite character! I love them all, and the story needs all of them. I even love my antagonist, Raleigh, and can see things from his point of view—from his point of view, he’s the hero. He just can’t see rationally. And it’s this complex array of interactions between all my characters—and how each individual’s behavior is controlled by each believing he or she is doing the right thing—that I really love.
What inspired the names?
Well, Seven Sarr was always called Seven. And her name’s pretty important in the story. She just came to me with that name, there was never any question about it. Ditto her brother, and Corin.
An interesting fact: Raleigh was originally called Ralli (again, I can’t say where the name came from, he just came to me as Ralli), but my editor suggested we changed the spelling as visually it looked too similar to Rahn, and some readers (especially those who read very fast) may have mixed the names up as they take up the same amount of space and roughly the same shape on the page.
If you could do it all over again, would you change anything about the Untamed series?
Well, the Untamed Series isn’t over yet! Only books one and two, Untamed and Fragmented, are currently out. At the moment, I’m editing book three, Divided, and hoping for a late 2017 release (though that’s yet to be confirmed), and working on the first draft of the final book in the series. Plenty more stuff happens!
But right from the start of writing book one, I had a rough plan for the series, and knew the overall shape the series arc would take, as well as how each book would have its own plot and arc too. So, no, I wouldn’t change anything—it was carefully planned. And the bits that weren’t planned initially, but then grew to have more importance in later books? Well, that’s the fun of writing, and I love the challenge of making things work. Sure, it’s a little harder when earlier books in the series are already published and you can’t go back to change things, but there’s always a way to make it work and the fun is discovering that path.
Is there anything you found particularly challenging about writing the Untamed series?
The worldbuilding! The series is a genre blend of a traditional dystopian setting with fantastical elements, such as spirits, Gods and Goddesses, and Seers. Fitting it altogether so that it made sense was a challenge at times!
Who was the cover designer?
My publisher commissioned two wonderful cover art designers! B.S. Clay worked on Untamed’s cover, and Fragmented’s was designed by Kris Norris.
What books/authors have influenced your writing?
Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Jean M. Auel, Richelle Mead, Teri Terry, Suzanne Collins, Aldous Huxley, and the Bronte sisters have all been very influential.
What is your take on fanfiction?
I’ve never really got into fanfiction, neither reading nor writing it.
As a writer, fanfiction is also quite a tricky area, as you don’t own the rights to another person’s characters, world, etc.,.
I’ve always written my own, original fiction. But I can see how writing fanfiction allows some people to start writing and gives them the confidence they need first, before they move onto writing their own stuff that’s completely theirs.
What advice would you give any newbie author or anyone that wants to pick up writing?
To write because you love it—not because someone else tells you to. And to get into a regular writing routine.
Tell us a little about yourself. Perhaps something not many people know about?
I walk and move about very quietly, and people (my family) and wildlife (often foxes, pumas, and snakes on the farm) often don’t hear me coming. I’ve rounded a corner in the wooded part of one of our fields, only to come face-to-face with a puma TWICE and I’ve tripped over a snake.
Can you share with us the best way to contact you and where to find your work? This is where you have the floor.
Sure! You can email me at MadelineDyerAuthor [at] yahoo [dot] co.uk or @MadelineDyerUK. I also have a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/madelinedyerauthor
Untamed and Fragmented can be found at most major retailers (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, The Book Depository, Waterstones, etc.,).
I’ve got all the links listed on my website, so for Untamed go here: http://madelinedyer.co.uk/fiction/untamed/
And for Fragmented go here: http://madelinedyer.co.uk/fiction/fragmented/
And I’ve also got a novella, “The Curse of the Winged Wight”, releasing on April 1, 2017 in Ever in the After: 13 Fantasy Tales, an anthology raising money for Lift 4 Autism. My novella’s a gothic fairy tale retelling, and I’m so excited! The anthology will be available in paperback and ebook formats from all the usual retailers.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview with us!!!
Thank you so much!