Interview with Darya Moon
How did you become a writer?
I was a lonely kid, so I used to make up all these imaginary friends and watch them do stuff in my head. When I was about 11, we got cable for the first time and I stepped into the world of Marvel cartoons (X-Men, Spider-Man, etc.) I wrote my first “novel” the same year, a fan story about the X-Men going on holiday. I still have it somewhere :)
What inspires you to write?
Sometimes, I get drawn into a fictional universe and it makes me want to write something in that genre or style. Other times, I think up a prompt or a scene, and then I write a story around it.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
I usually outline the big story beats first. Typically, I wait until I have four or five “anchor scenes”, then I start coming up with the in-betweens. That’s enough for a first draft. Once I start to see the shape of the story I want to tell, I go back and add all the twists and details and other things that make it fun.
With my characters, I like to explore different backgrounds and identities. My own heritage is complicated and sometimes it feels like I’m dragging around an ever-increasing bundle of labels. Writing about folks who share some of these labels helps me make sense of it all.
That said, I also work with sensitivity consultants where appropriate. I’ve met so many lovely people that way!
Could you share some of your challenges as a writer?
English is my second language (third, if we count French). I taught myself how to write in English by reading fanfiction and bootleg Western literature. This was back in the early ‘00s, when English books weren’t available in Romania and we didn’t have the option to buy things online. It took me a wee while to get to where I am today, and I still get it wrong sometimes. That’s where a good editor helps! (Related: My editors are amazing ♥)
Then there’s the whole “making art while figuring myself out” thing. In the undying words of the great Sir Terry Pratchett, “The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” I try to take in everything from everyone, there won’t be enough room in my head left for me. It’s a constant balancing act.
Tell me about your protagonist. What's your favorite trait and/or weakness?
Out of all four of my protagonists, I think I identify the most with Jon Hale. His story illustrates my belief that who you were doesn’t have to dictate who you become. Life’s messy. People change. Jon’s determination to carve a better future for himself in spite of the odds, his constant struggle to reconcile how he grew up with what he ended up doing, are things I’m deeply familiar with. I think Jon is the kind of man I wanted to be when I was growing up.
How does your antagonist create conflict?
Robbie works from the shadows. He’ll never confront anyone straight away. Instead, he’ll make their lives miserable, one small thing at a time, until he’s ready to go for the (metaphorical) kill.
What are your current / future projects?
I’m writing a sequel for To Bloom Again. I’m also working on a collection of short stories that explore human connection in a variety of settings, from the post-apocalyptic to the mundane.
Do you have a routine you follow when writing?
I try to write every day, even if I don’t feel like it. My first drafts are usually analog (pen and paper), although sometimes I write on my iPad using GoodNotes. I usually type up what I wrote and then refine it over days or even weeks. A typical draft needs at least two to three passes before I’m happy with it.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Here’s the thing. Dreams are nice to have. They can also make you feel like what you want is so far-fetched, you’ll never actually get there. Like the stars in the sky: pretty to look at, but perpetually out of reach. By all means, dream away, but don’t forget to do things, too.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Keep learning, keep writing, and you’ll get there eventually. Also, read Stephen King’s On Writing, particularly the bits about all the rejections he got and how he threw the manuscript for Carrie in the trash. If he went through all that and still found success, so can you.