Author Confessions: Moira Young

Moira Young
Category: Reading

Moira Young is the author of the hugely popular Dustlands trilogy, the first of which, Blood Red Road, won the Costa Children’s Book Award in 2011. Dustlands is an adrenaline pumping, epic dystopian adventure. As a series it has been published in over 30 countries and Blood Red Road is currently being made into a film by none other than Ridley Scott, the director of Gladiator and Alien!  

We are very excited to be bringing Moira to schools in East Lothian for a special day of events early in 2015 and tickled her grey matter for these Author Confessions before we set off...

Where do you stand on spinebreaking?

Stand? On a book? To break its spine? I'm shocked. Shocked you would ask such a question; shocked, I tell you. I have absolutely positively NEVER stood on a book spine to break it. Nor would I DREAM of doing so. Unless it was a thick book. Say, Anna Karenina. And I needed to read it in the bath. Then I might just ease it a little - ever so gently, mind - under my heel.

What’s your guiltiest reading pleasure?

I love a Georgette Heyer novel. I enjoy her Regency and Georgian romances any time, but never more than when I'm feeling blue or ill or tired; they never fail to cheer me. They're hugely entertaining, sharply witty, her characters are so well drawn that they leap from the page and the historical settings are first-class. And now that I live in Bath, I have the pleasure of walking among the buildings and streets from some of the books. "Is this the Sydney Place house where Abigail Wendover lived in Black Sheep? Hmmm. Could be!"

Which author or fictional character would you most like to party with?

It would have to be everyone at Mr Fezziwig's Christmas Eve party for his workers from Dickens's A Christmas Carol. "Every movable was packed off, as if it were dismissed from public life for evermore; the floor was swept and watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire; and the warehouse was as snug and warm and dry and bright a ballroom as you would desire to see upon a winter's night. In came a fiddler with a music-book, and went up to the lofty desk, and made an orchestra of it, and tuned like fifty stomach-aches ... Away they all went, twenty couple at once; hands half round and back again the other way; down the middle and up again... There were more dances, and there were forfeits, and more dances, and there was cake, and there was negus, and there was a great piece of Cold Roast, and there was a great piece of Cold Boiled, and there were mince-pies, and plenty of beer." If Christmas parties were like this Mr Fezziwig's party, I feel certain I'd be cured of my Grinchiness forever.

Have you ever pretended to have read a book to impress someone?

Sadly, yes. The most egregious example of this was when I was a drama student. I took Barbara Tuchman's The March of Folly to the laundrette and ostentatiously pretended to read it while supervising my whites. The gods instantly punished me. They always do; I must be on some kind of Mount Olympus watchlist. Another patron of the laundrette - a wild-haired young man who, whilst mad as a box of frogs, nevertheless appeared to have actually read the book - took me loudly to task, challenged me to defend Ms Tuchman's thesis and when my stammering reply revealed my complete ignorance, proceeded to extract my damp whites from the dryer, dump them on the floor, shove his own laundry in, slam the door and triumphantly claim my 50p worth of heat. It was no more than I deserved.

Is there a book by someone else that you wish you’d written?

That list is endless. It starts with the first book of my life, which my father read to me: The Wind in the Willows. Ratty and Mole messing about in boats, Badger, the irrepressible Mr Toad; oh, how I'd love to have written that story.

What would your dream job be if you weren't an author?

I'd have my very own old-fashioned movie house in a small seaside town. It would be resolutely uncommercial and a roaring success. There would be red plush curtains and deep comfortable seats and it would drip with gilt, dazzle with gilt. I'd ban mobile phones. I'd sell popcorn with real butter. Nothing else. Oh, maybe sodas. But no sweets with rustly wrappers, and a movie house is no place for healthy snacks or - even worse - coffee, tea and wine. My movie house would have a projectionist in a booth and I'd only show movies that I like, including plenty of trashy B-movies. I'd mount festivals dedicated to certain genres; 1950s brain movies, for example: They Saved Hitler's Brain, The Brain from Planet Arous, The Brain That Wouldn't Die, that kind of thing. People could dress up. It would be wonderful.  

Have you ever cried in public because of a book? 

I opened War Horse on the tube, was weeping by page 5 and realised I would never be able to read it in public. I still haven't got up the courage to read it. My face takes days to recover from a good crying jag.

How do you react to bad reviews?

Badly. So I rarely read any reviews, good or bad. And if I ventured into the Wild West of Amazon or GoodReads to see what people were saying about my books, I'd never recover. My husband reads reviews but he knows better than to tell me what he finds there.

Do you use your local library?

Public libraries are one of the greatest markers of a civilised society. I've loved them since I was a small child. They've made me who I am. When I receive my box of hot-off-the-press books from the printers - my author copies - I always rush down to the children's department and donate two copies to the collection. The first time I did that was one of the proudest moments of my life.

What's your opinion on reading in the bath?

I approve with all my heart. Even if it's a big, thick book. Say, Anna Karenina (see 1, above). Even if it means there's a chance you might drop it in the soapy depths just as you get to a particularly exciting point in the story, forcing you to endure an agonising week of anticipation as it dries on the radiator. Even then.

Which author do you nominate for Author Confessions?

I nominate the wonderful Tim Bowler for Author Confessions.

Competition: Win the Dustlands trilogy, signed by the author!

Thanks to Moira Young and Marion Lloyd Books, we've got the full Dustlands trilogy, signed by the author, to give away. 

All you have to do to enter is answer this simple question in the comments below or email your answer to marked 'Moira Young Competition':

- Which film director is set to direct the screen version of Blood Red Road?

Closing date: 17:00, Tuesday 27 January 2015. Open to UK entrants only. Full terms and conditions.


Read more Author Confessions, including Lucy Ribchester, Kirkland Ciccone and Amy Mason.

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