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Friday, December 23, 2011

Young Adult Urban Fantasy Author, Michael Young, Shares Insight Into His Novel,

From my youth, I have been used to seeing the world.  My father was an U.S. Air Force pilot and spent most of his career flying huge C-5 cargo planes.  That meant that we never stayed in one place long.  I counted once and I went to something like 12 different schools from grades K-12.
I also had the wonderful experience of growing up with seven siblings, all younger, split evenly between boys and girls.  We used to get funny looks when we all went out in public, and it meant always sharing a room, but I would not have had it any other way.  We grew up as the best of friends and still love to be around each other.
After high school, I spent two years as a missionary in Frankfurt, Germany for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  There I grew to love all things German from the food to the language, and when I returned, I majored in German Teaching at Brigham Young University with a minor in music. While still in college, I married we now have two wonderful sons.  Our youngest has Down’s Syndrome, and that has been a wonderful learning experience as a parent.
In addition to writing, I love to be on stage in Community Theater and participate in all things musical.  For about a year and a half, I have been a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and love getting to travel with them and experience excellence in choral music. I also spent three-years ringing English Hand bells with the Bells on Temple Square.
I am working developing curriculum for a language-learning company and trying to work my way up to being a full-time writer.  
Tell us about the genre of your work. 
I love writing science fiction and fantasy in all its known forms and maybe in a few that have not been invented yet.  In all that I write, I also like to add elements of historical fiction.  For example, in my first novel “The Canticle Kingdom”, I set it in the 1940s and had the plot affected by some of the events of World War II.  In my latest, “The Last Archangel,” the destruction of Pompeii plays an integral role in the story.
Why did you choose this genre?
I have always had such a crazy imagination that it would seem a shame to write only about reality. I grew up devouring fantasy books almost as quickly as I could get my hands on them, and I am sure that has something to do with the kind of writing I do.
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
The Canticle Kingdom, which is a Young Adult Fantasy, Portrait of a Mother”, which is an inspirational pamphlet, The Last Archangel, which is a YA Urban Fantasy and two short stories: “Subway Survey” in Allegory, and “Dynamic Duos” in Mindflights. 
Where can we find your work?
Title: The Last Archangel, http://www.thelastarchangelbook.com/
ISBN: 978-1599558943
Purchase Link:
http://amazon.com/1599558947
Can you tell us about your books?
Xandir has been exiled to earth until the end of time. But when his cherub trainee disappears, Xandir makes a deal with rogue angels and giants that could restore life to the mortal woman he loves and end his assignment as a destroying angel in exchange for helping them bring about the end of the world and all of mankind.
Title: The Canticle Kingdom
ISBN: 978-1599553627
Purchase Link:
http://amazon.com/1599553627
When a young blacksmith's apprentice, named Johann, discovers that his homeland is contained entirely within a small music box, it is up to him to protect the only home he has ever known. With the help of an impossibly ancient knight, his best friend, Brigitta, and his trusty homemade sword, Johann races to find the only people who can who can stop the dark power that threatens to destroy the Canticle Kingdom an unsuspecting family and an old woodcarver from the outside world. Enter a world full of magic, danger, loyalty and bravery in this exciting debut from Michael Young, and discover that even the most ordinary objects and people might be hiding something truly wonderful inside.

Title: “Portrait of a Mother”
ISBN: 978-1599558103
Purchase Link:
http://amazon.com/1599558106
The time has come for little Nina to choose her mother, but she is not sure how to decide! This tender and heartwarming tale of the true essence of motherhood is the perfect gift for all the women in your life.
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?

I have lived in Europe, Asia and all over the U.S. I have heard all sorts of names.  Therefore, it is one part reality, one part imagination, blend the two and see what comes out.  The Last Archangel has to do with angels and so I also added some ones based on biblical names. Many of the angels have names that ending in “el,” which in Hebrew was the name of Deity, which is also seen in many common names today such as Michael, Rachel and Daniel.  The one exception is Xandir, who is a fallen angel and thus not named like other angels.

How did you develop the character of your protagonist in this book?

Xandir is a destroying angel with very little job satisfaction, and who has had the job for thousands of years.   I took some time to explore what would happen to someone trapped like that, how he would view the rest of the world, how he would react to his superiors, and how he would deal with the mountain of regrets he has piled up over the years.

As a destroying angel, he carries two swords, a light one and a dark one, symbolizing justice and mercy.  On each one of his assignments, he has to make the decision of whether to blast the people involved or to show them lenience.  I found that this was an interesting way to develop the character by showing how he rationalizes his decisions.

What about an antagonist…is there a unique “bad guy” or a recurring nemesis of any kind?

There are a few villains, but the main baddy is one of the original bad guys: Cain.  I have tried to flesh him out a bit and set him up as someone who doesn’t want to take over Heaven, but wants to replace the Devil as the baddest guy in all creation. Oh, and he has a few sons who are still around who each bad in their own way—one who takes people down with his burly arms and one who takes people down by luring them into traps with mystical music. I took the names of the sons from the Bible: Jubal and Tubal, but fleshed them out with my imagination.  It even does mention in the Bible that Jubal was a musician so I ran with that idea.

What is your favorite thing about your book?
I love making people look at things in a new light—things like angels, demons, and even abominable snowmen.  The cover, though, is a close second.
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?
You have to get out your thinking cap, but a different brand than usual.  I think it looks like those pointy wizard’s hats. The rules of normal reality do not apply, but the world still needs to make sense.  It is a great deal of freedom, but also creates high expectations in the reader to take them on a journey that does not feel too much like other fantasy novels.  
Why and when did you begin writing?
I began the serious attempt in high school, in great part because of a great writing teacher (strangely, his name was also Mr. Young) who pushed me to explore different kinds of writing and made me realize that I really enjoyed it and had a knack for it.  I read so much growing up that the idea of writing brewed in my mind for a very long time before I attempted it seriously.  I wrote my first novel in high school just to prove to myself that I could do it.
What is your writing schedule?
I carry something to write with everywhere to get little snippets in and then I write like mad at night when the kids go to bed.  It may sound crazy, but that slow and steady does churn out books. For me, slow and steady works a lot better than occasional mad dashes.  That way I do not ever feel like I am out of the writing mindset.
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
I am working on several other fantasy/science fiction novels, and looking for a literary agent. I am excited about an epic fantasy in which people have had to wear masks all the time for 1,000 years.  I would also love to continue both The Last Archangel and The Canticle Kingdom into series. My interests also including writing for the stage and screen, but right now I am just trying to learn how it is done.  I preserve all my ideas in a document on my computer and have plenty to keep me happily writing for years to come.
What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
Find someone to be your “cheerleader.”  (Pom-poms optional) Writing takes a lot of time, effort and determination, and it is easy just to give up and decide it is not worth the effort.  Make sure there is someone who can cheer you on, and encourage you through those hard times to keep you motivated. My wife plays this role very well…without pom-poms.
Invaluable to me had also been realistic goal setting.  I find that if you have something to aim at, you get better, and have results that are more consistent.  I usually set a word-count goal and then break up that big goal into doable daily word counts. 
Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?
Do not ever stop working on your writing.  Just because you get something in print does not mean you can stop trying to improve. Study writing books, analyze books in your genre, join a writer’s group, attend conferences, and above all...write all the time.
What do you do when you are not writing?
Probably something musical.  I love to play the piano and sing.  I have even dabbled in writing my own music. I also love hanging out with the family.  My sons are both very cheerful, happy little boys and always cheer me up. I also try to keep reading, and I love to be able to say that my leisure reading doubles as “research” for my writing.
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
Getting my first book contract was a major one and seeing one of my books on the shelf for the first time, nestled right next to “Harry Potter.”  Also getting the phone call saying that I had been accepting into the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  I had always wanted to be a member, and I was not sure I was going to be good enough.  Also, becoming a father was a huge one for me.  I grew up with many children in the house, and I have always aspired to have some of my own. 
You can find out more about this author on his website at http://www.writermike.com/.


1 comment:

Michael Young said...

Thanks for the interview and a Merry Christmas!