Interview with Michael Young
Updated: Mar 29
Hey, ya'll! I can't believe it's the start of spring already! Let's dive in to our newest author interview! Today, Michael Young has been gracious enough to sit down with us. Michael Young is a life long writer. As the oldest of eight children, he used the stories he wrote to entertain and inspire games with his siblings. If that doesn't tell you what type of character he is, I don't know what will. I can't imagine any of my five kiddos doing that. Michael writes in many different genres. He has done epic fantasy, middle grade, and even non-fiction. He's involved with a renowned choir group known as The Tabernacle Choir. Michael loves to learn and even works for a university. He's passionate about different languages and is bilingual. Honestly, I can barely speak proper English most days so I'm envious of Michael. Just kidding, kind of. Michael is a dad to three kids and loves hanging out with them. My son (age 9) has started Michael's middle grade series and has really enjoyed it so far. So if you have kiddos who enjoy fantasy, chess, and books that make them think, they'd love this! Check out his links below!
How did your writing journey begin?
It began when I was barely able to put pen to paper. I started creating complex, imaginative stories at a young age, and often entertained my many siblings with the stories I told them. I officially wrote a novel in high school and published one when I was in college.
Being the eldest of eight, did any on your siblings inspire any creative ideas for some of your stories you told as a child or even later in life?
Absolutely. My stories often had something to do with knights with incredible powers and all the dangers they faced together. These themes come up quite a bit in both “The Canticle Kingdom” series and the “Chess Quest” series. They both incorporate the elements that I had been using since childhood to entertain my siblings and friends.
How did you incorporate your love for Narnia into your writing?
Like C.S. Lewis, I liked the idea of having another world that could be accessed via a seemingly ordinary object. My first published work, “The Canticle Kingdom” was influenced by this idea. In this story, there is an entire kingdom held inside of a music box that exists in 1940s Germany. The box plays enchanted music that can draw the listener from our world into the kingdom inside the box. That definitely feels like an allusion to Lewis’s titular wardrobe.
What is your favorite world that you created?
I love the world in which “The Hunger”, “The Thirst”, and “The Longing” is set. The magic system, based on consuming different kinds of magical food, was a lot of fun to play with. I also try to create a sense that these civilizations have a long history, and I even delve into some of their music and art. It was a lot of fun to write and I’ve had many readers tell me they have enjoyed it as well.
Do you ever have trouble focusing on one book and not being distracted by ideas for another? Do you write more than one book at a time?
This is a constant struggle. My ideas usually come to me when I’m doing other mundane things, and so I never know when lightning is going to strike. A new idea is always so exciting that I want to jump in with both feet right away. When I’m 50,000 words into another project, however, I don’t really want to lose momentum with that one either.
I don’t often write two novels at once, but I usually have two projects going at once. One is usually a novel and the other is something that uses a different part of my brain, like a stage script or musical lyrics.
What is a tip you would give to help new authors try to stay focused?
I would tell them to set writing goals that will be achieved consistently. It’s great to have the occasional day where you write thousands and thousands of words, but it might burn you out quickly. Set smaller, achievable goals that you can do consistently, and these will add up over time and keep you excited to keep writing.
What are your hobbies other than writing?
I’m an avid musician and I spend a lot of time and energy in pursuit of good music. I sing with a 360-voice choir that performs every week on Sundays. (www.tabernaclechoir.org). I also teach private voice lessons, play the piano, and write songs. It’s nice to be able to switch gears between writing and singing, or at times, to combine the two by writing my own lyrics.
Do you ever find yourself speaking a different language you have learned in day-to-day conversation?
Yes. In my family, we have certain things that I got so used to saying in German that we just all have adopted the German word. For example, the German word for “sleep” is “schlafen” and all of us with just through the German word around, because we all understand it.
If you could be any character in any world, what and where would you be?
As a history buff, a travel junkie, and someone who loves sci-fi, I’d be the Doctor, from Doctor Who. He (sometimes she) gets to travel through all kinds of interesting historical eras, but also explores strange, exotic worlds throughout space. He always has interesting travel companions and gets to meet fascinating people. Then, if your body is getting a bit worn out, you can just regenerate a new one.
Have you ever had any negative criticism? If so, how were you able to cope with it and grow from it?
When you are putting creative work out there, you are always going to have naysayers. It is impossible to please everyone and you shouldn’t try. That being said, it is difficult to read negative reviews, and so I actually usually have my wife read through reviews and summarize some of the feedback that I had gotten. She’s much better at gleaning the good stuff out that is going to help me improve in the future. It’s just part of author life and I have made a decision to not focus on it, but to be true to the vision of what I want to write. I still go out looking for feedback, but from more reliable sources than someone who left a random review on Amazon.
Is there a genre you would like to explore more in the future?
I would love to do some more historical fiction. I absolutely love studying history and I find the research necessary to write historical fiction as enjoyable as the writing itself. Some of my works have bits and pieces of history in them, but I’d love to attempt a full-on historical work.
Do you have any other aspiring tips for authors?
Make a game plan. Set goals for yourself and stick to them. Be accountable to someone and report in. When you finish something, start right away on the next thing while you are submitting it. Seek feedback humbly, but don’t let it crush your spirits. Even the best authors get lots of feedback from their editors. Oh, and learn to be patient. Almost nothing in publishing goes quickly.
My website: www.authormichaelyoung.com
Though Michael grew up traveling the world with his military father, he now lives in Utah with his wife, Jen, and their three children. He played for several years with the handbell choir Bells on Temple Square and is now a member of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. He is the author of the novels in The Canticle Kingdom Series, The Last Archangel Series, the Chess Quest Series and the Penultimate Dawn Cycle (The Hunger), as well as several non-fiction works, including An Advent Carols Countdown, The Song of the Righteous and As Saints We Sing.
Blurb for “The Hunger”:
In a distant, war-torn land, every man, woman and child must either consume the magical substance known as Sustenance or succumb to the Hunger. Those who succumb develop deformities and face exile — or even death.
The scholar Azil wants nothing more than to lead a tranquil life and beat back the Hunger. But when a mysterious assassin tries to kill Azil, and a stranger shows up at his door challenging him to join her on a quest, he embarks on a dangerous journey to steal the sacred gems of Sustenance guarded in a forbidden fortress. To get there, Azil must venture through a land of floating cities, ravenous mage wraiths, ax-wielding warriors, and bloodthirsty bandits.
But with the sacred gems of Sustenance come volatile magic — magic so strange and dangerous, that the prophecies foretell it could usher in a golden age, or turn its wielder into the darkest of villains.