Friday, April 29, 2011

Y - interview with author Michael Young

Michael is a graduate of Brigham Young University with a degree in German Teaching and a minor in Music. He puts his German to good use by working to build online German courses for High School students. Though he grew up traveling the world with his military father, he now lives in Utah with his wife, Jen, and his two sons. Michael enjoys acting in community theater, playing and writing music and spend­ing time with his family. He played for several years with the handbell choir Bells on Temple Square and is now a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

His first book, The Canticle Kingdom, was released in Feb 2010 through Bonneville Books. Is is also the author of the inspiration short story "Portrait of a Mother". He has also had work featured in various online and print magazines such as Mindflights, The New Era, Allegory, and Ensign.



Synopsis: When a young blacksmith s apprentice named Johann discovers that his homeland is contained entirely within a small music box, it s up to him to protect the only home he s 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.


Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Michael: In high school. I had a really great writing teacher, who was also named Mr. Young, and I thought I would try my hand at writing a novel. I finished that one and thought that I should just keep going.

Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?

Michael: I do not have any formal writing education outside of the many writer’s workshops that I attend, but plenty with my YA audience. I got my teaching license and a degree in German and Music teaching.

Deirdra: What makes you passionate about writing?

Michael: The thrill of taking something from an idea to a physical creation that can be shared with others. It almost feels like a magical process.

Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Michael: I wrote “The Canticle Kingdom” during my second year of college, and while I was there, the college had a publisher’s fair where students could come and talk with local publishers. I found my future publisher there when I was able to pitch the story to them face to face.

Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Michael: Quite a bit. Writing is a long and often thankless process, measured in months and years. One way that I overcome discouragement is to go enjoy some other wonderful creative work that someone else has done, whether it is a book, a movie, or a piece of music and help that motivate me to continue and do the best that I can.

Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?

Michael: Writing is something that I do all the time to fill in the cracks. I bring writing material everywhere and write wherever I can. I also try to get in some good time at night after the kids go to bed.

Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Michael: Ideas R Us. No, I wish it were that simple. Usually some little thing that someone will say or do sparks an idea that I have to go write down immediately. The only way to figure out if the idea has legs, as they say, is to try to turn it from an idea to an outline. If I manage to pull off an entire outline, then it could be worth doing.

Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your book The Canticle Kingdom.

Michael: This is my debut novel and is a YA Fantasy. It is about a kingdom of people who live inside a music box, but do not know it yet. The box gets passed around in our world during the 1940s and some people who hear the music coming from the box are taken in and become part of the kingdom inside.

I’m working on making it into a series, probably a trilogy.

Deirdra: I noticed a button on your blog called "Man Cave Writers". What is that about?

Michael: The Man Cave is a blog by me and four other male authors where we blog about the life of being an author, especially coming from a male perspective. It’s relatively new, but we’ve got some great contributors, including Frank Cole, Dan Harrington, J. Lloyd Morgan, and David West.

Deirdra: How many beta readers do you have review your manuscript before you send it to your editor?

Michael: I usually try to have seven or eight. I get a pool of more than that, because I realize some people might not see it through. I would highly recommend it though to anyone who is preparing their manuscript.

Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?

Michael: Above all, I hope that my books will stimulate the reader's imagination, and provide them an escape from the normal world and its constraints. That's what a good book does for me.

Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
Michael: I've gradually become an outliner. I don't like to hash out every single detail, because I like there to be some element of discovery in writing, but I do like to have what I call "fence posts". I usually sit down before I ever read a chapter and go to the book chapter by chapter and decide what major events need to happen. I find this way that I'm able to write much more quickly and with far greater confidence.

Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Michael: you know, I find that as long as I outline my story first, I don't run into much writer’s block. However, for the times that I do experience it, I just shift gears and work on a different project. I always have a handful of projects I'm working on at the same time, so that I can go back and forth if one is starting to feel stale. After working on something else, I could usually go back to the original one with fresh eyes.

Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Michael: absolute quiet is not something that happens a lot around me. Luckily, I don't need it. I grew up in a household with 10 people, and I can just filter out background noise. I do also like listing to music when I write, especially something like a movie soundtrack that evokes particular feeling so that I can incorporate that feeling into what I'm writing.

Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Michael: A lot of music, especially music without words. It's more about the feelings and the images I get when listening to a specific kind of music. I also find my inspiration in the little quirks I observe in other people and the strange things that happen in day-to-day life. I find that it is easy to borrow from life without exactly copying it.

Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Michael: I'd have to say my wife. She's been very supportive of my writing pursuits, and has more than anyone to help me find the time to write. She also reads every one of my books and gives such great commentary. It would be so much harder to be motivated to write if I didn't have her support.

Deirdra: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?

Michael: Drawing from things you see in real people without cloning them. Take a funny habit from someone, give them the speech pattern of someone else, the interesting physical marker of another person, or any combination of those things. That way you have details that make characters memorable because they feel real, but nobody gets offended because you put them in your book and got them wrong.

Deirdra: What authors do you admire, and why?
Michael: I have great respect for LDS fantasy authors who have made it big in the national markets, such as Brandon Sanderson and James Dashner. They give me hope for the future. They also become popular without including inappropriate content in their books, which proves to me that it can be done, despite what some people say.

Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

Michael: I actually try not to eat when writing because it gets crumbs in the keyboard. On occasion when I do, popcorn is the name of the game.

Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?

Michael: I’m big into music and theater. I play the piano and organ, have been in several English handbell choirs and now sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I like to try to do one theater production every year, especially musical theater.

Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?

Michael: Be patient. Don’t rush things and get as much feedback as you can before submitting. Make big goals and break them up into smaller, achievable goals that you can stick to daily.

Deirdra: What are you working on now?

Michael: I have a few manuscripts in the revision phase and am working on finding an agent. I’m especially excited about a YA manuscript about a boy who swallows a magical stone that falls from the sky when his is two and as he is growing up, he can’t control which dreams stay in his head and which leak out into reality. I’ve entered it into the Amazon Breakout Novel contest and it just passed the first round from 5,000 down to 1,000, so I’m excited about that.

Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Michael: Check out my blog at They are also all on,, and Here’s what I have now:

“The Canticle Kingdom” – YA Fantasy

“Portrait of a Mother” – Inspirational Fiction

“The Last Archangel” – YA Urban Fantasy (Coming July 2011 – Available soon for preorder)

Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?
Michael: I’m always looking for ways to help others learn to better. I’m a teacher by profession, and love to visit schools, libraries, conferences, whatever the venue. I also have a program for aspiring writers on my blog to help them get pointed in the right direction. Feel free to write to me at with anything I can help with. It only makes sense to try to pay it forward for all the help I’ve been given.

And for all you writers out there: stick with it! You've only failed as a writer if you cease to write.


  1. Although I had never heard of Micheal Young, I found this interview really absorbing,
    Great job, well done.

  2. Great interview as always, Deirdra!! I loved the MAN CAVE BLOG thing - books looks cool. I took German for 5 years so I could study in Austria - got accepted and then Jim asked me to marry him and I never made it to Austria. Forgot most of my German too. Dang. Great job!!

  3. Awesome interview. Can't wait to add this to my TBR pile.

  4. Really enjoyed this interview. You asked all the questions I would have,if I had been the interviewer. I'm always particularly interested in hearing various writers own process for writing (do they outline? where do they write?) and obviously the tricks and tips to their success in getting published. Great stuff - thanks!


  5. Informative, fun interview, Michael. I'm curious how an author gets so many beta-readers. Did you start out with one, then add?

    My thanks to Diedre for featuring Michael!

  6. I love this interview, and I LOVE YOU!

    jean xox

  7. I really enjoyed The Canticle Kingdom and Portrait of a Mother. I'm excited that Michael has a new book coming out.
    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Thanks for reading everyone. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. As for Beta Readers, I mostly use social media to reach out to people and then draw from the pool of people who express interest.

  9. Excellent interview! Michael Young is not only an wonderful writer, but a darn good person.

    His upcoming book, The Last Archangel, is amazing. It's due out soon, so keep an eye out for it!


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