Moriah Chavis is an author and elementary school librarian in North Carolina. Heart of the Sea, her debut YA fantasy novel, released earlier this month. Aside from writing and reading, Moriah enjoys going for walks or runs and spending time with her husband. They have a standing date to the movies once a month, and sometimes they plan months in advance. An interesting tidbit about Moriah, aside from her being born during a full moon on Christmas, is that she never forgets anything she’s read! Let’s welcome Moriah Chavis now.
Q) Describe yourself in 3 words.
A) Determined (some might say stubborn), motivated, creative.
Q) If you had a theme song for your life, what would it be and why?
A) Oh goodness, I don’t know! I feel like it would change daily, based on my mood. I don’t listen to a lot of music, but I love music with Celtic, earthy undertones. If it can be played on a lute, I would probably love it.
Q) What was your most recent 5-star read and why?
A) The Inkblack Heart by Robert Galbraith. I’m obsessed with these books after my friend got me into them. For those who don’t know, Robert Galbraith is J.K. Rowling’s psyeudonym. TIH is book six in her crime fiction series, and I’m in love with the characters. Robin and Cormoran work so well together, and their relationship is everything any reader looks for in a slow burn friendship to what we “hope” to one day be something more. The cases are so well thought out and plotted perfectly. Even at over 1,000 pages I found myself flying through it. She creates not just a story but an entire world. For adult Harry Potter fans who love thrillers, I can’t recommend them enough.
Q) If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
A) Scotland. I’m a huge Outlander and Harry Potter fan. I would love to see all the filming locations for both!
Q) Describe your writing in 5 words (or less).
A) Fantastical, romantic, high-stakes, hopeful
Q) What can you tell us about Heart of the Sea?
A) I started writing it almost three and a half years ago! For me, even though there is a romance, it has always been a story about two sisters. Nerissa, our FMC, struggled in her early teen years finding her place, and this story is as much about finding where you fit in with the family you’ve been given and the one that finds you.
Q) What was the inspiration behind Heart of the Sea, this pirate adventure featuring the found family trope?
A) I love Pirates of the Caribbean. HOTS would be like if Will Turner was a lost prince and Elizabeth had magic. While it’s a nod at my love for those movies, it is also a quest. I love chosen one and quest stories, and when I sat down to write this one, I wrote out each obstacle they would face before they got to their destination.
Q) What type of reader will Nerissa’s story resonate with?
A) I think anyone who loves a female MC [main character] who is independent, but she also needs others to help her along the way. Since it is a story about two sisters, I think anyone who has a sibling can resonate with this story. Ironically, I don’t have a sister, but I do have a brother. I’m not sure I could have written their complicated relationship if I didn’t have a sibling of my own.
More from Moriah Chavis
Q) Now that Heart of the Sea has released, what is your next writing project?
A) I’m working on two things! One, finishing the first draft of my next novel releasing with Twenty Hills Publishing. The title hasn’t been released yet, but it’s a collection of short stories about one FMC [female main character]. It’s a continuation of one of the stories that released in the second edition of What Darkness Fears. The FMC in those stories has the ability to see ghosts, and it’s about her journey of self-discovery, solving supernatural crime, and ignoring societal rules of the late 19th Century London. Two, I’m also going back into the query trenches for a novel I’ve been working on. I’ve been in the trenches A LOT since I started writing, so I’m hoping and praying for the Lord’s will as I dive back in with a story very near and dear to my heart.
Q) What do you hope readers of your novel, or any of your works, walk away feeling and/or thinking?
A) Hope. I don’t believe every story has to have a happy ending, but I do believe that you can find hope in my stories. Even if I leave my readers with a bittersweet tale, I want them to know that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, even if they can’t see it yet. I’m big on writing stories where family takes precedent.
What Exactly IS Young Adult?
Q) On your social media, you are very vocal about ensuring young adult books do not expose children to mature content. I, wholeheartedly, agree with your stance that YA books should be made YA again as the target audience exists to reach ages starting at 13. Can you tell us how your experience as a school librarian and reader have shaped your view and how in turn that influences your own writing?
A) I love talking about this because I don’t think we talk about it enough. It’s obvious that society is trying to age up children. I’ve read some marvelous books that were marketed as YA but I would not want a younger student reading them. If we want to included mature content (i.e. sexual content) in books, then we need another category. Personally, I don’t think YA needs anything above fade-to-black. Even then, not every book needs sexual content. There are more happening in teens and young adults lives than that. We’re not being fair to them to make it appear commonplace.
I see a lot in the public school system, and I think we as adults have a responsibility to give children a taste of childhood, especially through books. Protecting their innocence is getting more and more difficult, but there is nothing wrong with trying to do that. I know when I was first exposed to YA, I wanted a good story. Yes, I loved Twilight first, so I wanted a romance. But I was twelve. I didn’t need anything more than that. They go on their honeymoon in Breaking Dawn! I was scandalized. For anyone who has read that book, you know it’s fade-to-black. But the same can be said for many books.
The, what I consider, classic YA, felt like YA. It was age-appropriate, and 12 to 18 year-olds could enjoy it. My question is why there are so many people adamant that we need more explicit content when we didn’t need it then? Nothing has changed except for our perception of what is appropriate. I want to write stories families can share. I want to write books mothers and daughters can discuss with one another on the drive to school. There’s nothing like sharing a good story, and I don’t want to lose the art in that. Our goal should be to get children excited about reading. If you teach a kid to read, you’ve given them the only tool in life they need to succeed. But if they have nothing to read, we’re failing them.
Advice from Moriah Chavis
Q) If you could give your younger self any advice, in terms of writing or something else, what would it be?
A) It’s okay to be who you are. I’ve spent so long worrying about what others thought of me. The old me would have never said some of the things the new me says now. I found my voice through writing. I got closer to God through it because I do feel like it’s my calling to write. It’s something I could never give up. Now, I am unabashedly who I am. I’m a nerd. I only wear bookish clothing. My favorite thing to do on vacation is read and find the closest bookstore. Being who I am and accepting that person, the person God made me to be, was so freeing. I encourage everyone to be happy with who they are and pray about how they can be used to influence others. It will bleed into their writing in the best way.
Q) What advice can you share with other authors?
A) Finish the story. Everything else can be fixed later. Find the end, and then go back to the beginning. Hindsight is always twenty-twenty. If you know how your story ends, you can truly find where it should begin.
Connect with Moriah
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