Writing to Find Out What Happens Next: An Interview with Bryce Moore

For better or for worse, our memories shape who are. So imagine having the power to steal them from other people—from the memories they cherish, to those they deeply regret. This is the magical premise behind author Bryce Moore’s newest novel for young readers, The Memory Thief, brought to you by Adaptive Studios and available exclusively at Barnes & Noble. We spoke to Moore about his inspiration, his process, and what it was like working with Adaptive Studios.

What’s your writing background?

I started writing in second grade, but I didn’t get very serious about it until 2001, when I took a creative writing class at BYU from Dave Wolverton, followed by one on writing for children and young adults by Louise Plummer. I’ve been writing ever since. When I was at BYU, I became friends with Brandon Sanderson, whose Elantris had just been sold. I was in a writing group with him for five years, and I learned a lot about work ethic and attention to detail there. I’ve finished 15 novels so far, though The Memory Thief is only the second to be professionally published. (Vodník came out in 2012.) These days, I write every day, often over lunch or right when I get home from work. Almost all of my books are YA or Middle Grade fantasy or science fiction.

How did Adaptive find you?

I originally sold The Memory Thief to Egmont, a publishing house in New York. They were shuttered by their parent company, and when that happened, my book was once again without a home. Thankfully my editor, Jordan Hamessley, ended up at Adaptive, and she was able to make another offer on the book—one I happily accepted.

How long did it take you to write the manuscript?

The first draft went really quickly. I think I was done writing it in under two months. But there’s a lot more to writing a book than just writing that first draft. I don’t plot extensively before I write (generally), but with a book like The Memory Thief, you still need to figure out the basics, like how the magic system will work and what the main conflict of the story is. So there’s time ahead of that first draft, and then of course all the revisions that happen afterward.

What did you read or watch to get inspired to take on this project?

That’s a great question. I watch a lot of movies and television, which inevitably influences my writing. A lot of times once I know what kind of book I’m going to be writing next I’ll take some time to watch a bunch of movies similar to it. For The Memory Thief, I watched Disney horror movies from my youth: Something Wicked This Way Comes and Watcher in the Woods. The magic system itself was partly inspired by the TV series Pushing Daisies, which I loved (and which was taken from us far too soon). Not that this book is about people coming back from the dead if they get touched, but rather that something simple (in this case, making eye contact with a person) can give a magic user a toehold to do just about anything they want with a person’s memories.

Books published by Adaptive will ultimately be turned into TV series or movies. Did that affect the way you approached the project?

It didn’t affect me when I was writing the first draft because, as I said, the book was written before it found a home at Adaptive. Once it was with Adaptive, I’d say it definitely influenced the revision process. I generally write with a fairly visual style (probably due to how many movies I watch), but Adaptive encouraged me to push that even further, making some internal conflicts have corresponding external signifiers.

What was the revision process like?

Lots of it. I’m big on revising, and I usually do at least three or four drafts before I even send the book out to my agents. Then we bounce the drafts back and forth a few more times before we submit them to editors. With Jordan, I think I did three more revisions, and a lot of those still involved major changes. The climax was totally reworked, for example, and some plot elements that play a big role throughout the book didn’t come into existence until late in the revision process. A lot of the energy for my writing comes through the discovery process. I write to find out what happens next. Having big changes in revisions helps me to keep that energy going.

How did writing for Adaptive differ from working on your other novels or projects?

They were great to work with. The whole creative team gets involved and gives input, which I really valued. I’m always envious of filmmakers, who can have such a collaborative process. Actors, directors, composers—all of them bring something to the table and can help refine a story and perfect it. And then of course with The Memory Thief, Adaptive made a book trailer. I loved being able to see the finished product.

If you had to write a logline for your life thus far, how would it go?

A librarian geek moves to rural Maine with his family. Adventure and hilarity ensue.

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