Featured Authors

Featured Authors is part of the series of interviews ‘Let’s Talk with the Authors’. Featured authors have worked with editors4you or WriteDesign Publications. The promotional opportunity for featured authors is also open to other authors (contact us for details).

Featured Authors: M.B. Wynter

Promoting Your Books

As we writers know, it’s one thing to write a book. It’s quite another to promote it. Writers tend to shy away from promotion, but it’s vital to kick the shyness habit so that we can get our books out there in the big wide world.

In our second interview of featured authors, we chat with M.B. Wynter, an Australian author from Sydney. The Fetal Position is her first YA fiction novel.

featured authors photo of M.B. Wynter the fetal position
Featured Authors: M.B. Wynter, The Fetal Position

Can you give us an elevator pitch of your story?

The Fetal Position follows the lives of my two protagonists, Dwaine Hauser and Paige Wyander, a young couple from Sydney and Melbourne respectively who are at a crossroads. Personally, they are in distress, and their relationship has come to a standstill. Paige suffers from a disability that greatly affects her relationships and her ability to manage a seemingly easy life, while Dwaine is trying to graduate high school despite his father’s recent incarceration. The novel has both lovely as well as cringingly awkward moments, which to me is a young adult’s life in a nutshell.

The Fetal Position is YA fiction. Have you found that people other than young adults also purchase your book? What feedback have you had from such readers?

Surprisingly, yes, and the feedback is mostly the same. In both online reviews and in person, many say that the book is a little too graphic for their liking in terms of sexual content. My response to that has been, ‘This is what young people do.’ I didn’t write an erotic fiction novel, but I wrote one that doesn’t shy away from what happens behind doors in a young person’s life. Particularly when the book is centred around a couple who are very much in love.

Some other responses I’ve received have been nostalgic. I reference a lot of 70’s, 80’s and 90’s music, and I realise that most young adults wouldn’t be familiar with half of it, but it worked with readers over 25. I’m relieved because yes, The Fetal Position is YA fiction, but what writer wouldn’t want their work to appeal to everybody? 

I believe it took you a number of years to finish your book. You began at the age of 13 and published your book in 2018. What were some of the challenges you faced in writing and completing your book?

No one on earth will ever know the agony I went through to write and complete this book. I was 13 years old; I was in year 8, I was a top student living a healthy lifestyle and I was very happy. I initially wrote about 25,000 words of The Fetal Position (which didn’t have a title until a few weeks before I published it) but then life began to change for me on a personal level. I won’t delve into it but the next 10 years were a severe struggle and it affected every aspect of my life, including my writing.

I was stuck. I didn’t have writer’s block (I knew exactly where my characters were going) but I was a kid, I knew nothing about writing a novel and I knew no one who had written one. I’d read a hundred books and all I knew was that The Fetal Position had its place on paper.

Stephen King says there are really only two things you need to do in order to be a writer; you need to read a lot and you need to write a lot. I read that quote when I was a teenager in the midst of my struggles, and it made perfect sense to me. There are no excuses or shortcuts. I struggled in my youth, yes, but I never stopped doing those two things. The writing took up most of my high school education and a few years after, but by 2018 I’d finished the first draft and needed professional assistance.

You redrafted your novel many times, but your book has an intriguingly mature perspective and contains many mature insights. Did you feel particularly ‘mature’ when you began writing your book?

The funny thing is that as I grew up, so did the story. Paige is 21 and Dwaine is 18. I (the person who made them up in my head and gave them names and scars and secrets) was 13. I felt mature when I started writing it, and in many ways I was, but it didn’t take me long to realise I was coming up short in some areas. I would map out a crucial scene, but when it came to writing it, I couldn’t inject emotion into it because I hadn’t felt those emotions myself.

That’s why I had to redraft parts of The Fetal Position multiple times. By the time I published it at 23 years old, I felt everything I needed to feel in order to do my characters justice and not sell them to the world ‘half done’.

Young adults are sometimes faced with adult issues. You told me these shouldn’t be treated lightly. Can you give a couple of examples from your book?

Many children are faced with situations where they’re forced to grow up very quickly. I knew when I started writing it that the mature themes were going to cause some controversy. My mother hasn’t finished reading it because in the first chapter there’s a moment when Paige and Dwaine witness her mother having sex in the living room. I understand my mum’s reservations as well as everyone else’s, but society needs to remember that this scene is not far-fetched for some people. Some kids have to be the ones to look after their parents, just as Paige does with her drug-addicted mother. I wanted to be as authentic as possible when writing this story, I didn’t sugar-coat anything.

Paige suffers from an illness where she must be medicated, and medication has side-effects. In recent times, the world is learning that adolescents struggle with many ‘adult’ problems, including mental illness, and it was important to me to factor this in when writing scenes that to some would be controversial. In reality, there are millions of Paiges out there.

Your book is set in 1994. Has anyone who’s read it asked, ‘Why isn’t this book set in the 21st century’? Why did you set in the mid-1990s?

The 90s were a simpler time for communication due to the lack of technology. I fell in love with and respected my characters to the point where I was afraid to ‘write’ them for fear I would fail them. Crazy, I know, but my way of making them great was to have them speak face to face rather than on Facebook Messenger. They deserved a love that was typically 20th century. I love writing scenes that don’t include a text message. I love writing intimate moments that don’t necessarily include nudity. People don’t speak to each other anymore. It’s ironic coming from me, but typing out words isn’t speaking. Using your ‘voice’ is the most daring thing of all, I think.

Many people have asked me why the book is set between 1990 and 1994, and I tell them the same thing: Even though I was a teenager in the 21st century, I liked it better back then. And the happier I am, the better I write.

I’m sure you can imagine their confused expressions at that one.

Did you have an initial inspiration for the book, or did it just ‘happen’?

I fell in love with writing when I was nine, and when I was 13 I said to myself, ‘I want to write a book for teenagers. I don’t know what it’s going to be about but I want to write something real. I want to write something that I would read a million times over.’

The next day, I saw an image in my head of Dwaine with his long hair and the day after, Paige looked at me with a sad face, and I just went from there.

Paige is 21 and Dwaine is 18, and they meet when Dwaine is still in high school. Despite the three-year age difference, in many ways, Dwaine is a lot more mature than Paige. Was this intentional? If so, why is it important to your story?

I deliberately made the characters and their personalities this way to avoid gender stereotypes and ageism. Dwaine is, in fact, more mature than Paige. He’s more emotional, he’s shy and he has a lighter presence. Paige, however, has a quicker mind, she’s more logical and she’s generally complicated. Typically, in the arts, the roles are reversed. I have a male friend who after he read the book said to me, ‘This dude is so many of us but he’s not what women want and it shows because Paige rages it at him.’ I replied, ‘Whether or not that’s true, you just said he’s so many of you and that’s all I wanted to write about.’ Something true, something people can relate to and something that both men and women can take away. That’s important to me. An artist can’t achieve much if they don’t understand people. People can’t be truly stimulated unless they feel understood.

When you began writing the book, you yourself were still at high school. What aspects of school life in the book are taken from your own high school experiences (if any)?

To be honest, so much of my high school experience isn’t reflected in the book for various reasons including the fact that I don’t remember a lot of my high school life (I mentioned my youth was a bit rocky). However, the only place I ever felt truly safe and understood was the library. If you read the book, that’ll make sense.

What do you believe is the main message of your story?

The entire foundation of Paige and Dwaine’s romance is based on the fear of the unknown. The way Paige sees herself in a negative way stems from her fear of not understanding why she suffers from a ‘curse’ of a disease. There’s a chapter I titled ‘Homophobia’, which represents the fear of something that people don’t understand. The 90s was a homophobic time. I don’t know if fear is the message I want to convey, but I certainly do want to show others that fear gets you nowhere at all, and sometimes it even gets you into trouble.

My English teacher in high school once said to me, ‘Once an author releases their work, it no longer belongs to them.’ I didn’t understand what she meant until she said, ‘People are going to dissect the shit out of your work and make it whatever they want it to be. You can tell them it’s not true, but why do that? People want to be entertained.’

I was angry. I knew people would think I had written a love story when I hadn’t. She said to me, ‘You want to be a novelist, right? That’s something you need to come to terms with.’ That’s what I did, so there isn’t a direct message. My readers will take care of that.

Ok, so here comes the question that all novelists either dread or smirk at! Is any part of your book autobiographical?

I wasn’t expecting this question but now I’m dreading answering it! I’m adamant that this book isn’t based on my life whatsoever, but I threw two pieces of me in there. The first was the music I loved and the second was my obsession with everything 90s. I also wanted to pay tribute to Nirvana and document Cobain’s death. Like Dwaine, they were my favourite band as a teenager.

So no, The Fetal Position isn’t autobiographical. Did I feel the way my characters feel when I was a teenager? Hell yes. 

Are you planning to write further novels?

Of course! I’ve mapped out a new manuscript. It’s also YA fiction, but it’s not a sequel to The Fetal Position. However, given the long and difficult 10 years I spent writing my first novel, I decided to put it aside and let it gain its strength while I wrote something a little less complicated, some poetry, which I’ve just finished.

The poetry is autobiographical, so those who found my vague comments on my adolescence interesting will have a chance to be nosy. And I welcome it! All updates will be through my social media. I can’t wait to share my next piece of work with you all.

How is your experience of writing your first novel affecting how you write your second?

I made a billion mistakes getting started and writing The Fetal Position, which I like to refer to as ‘writer growing pains’. I spent too many years striving for perfection when it didn’t exist. I spent too little time believing in my words and more time trying to comfort the characters in my head who I loved so much but who literally couldn’t love me back. When I started working with my writing coach and editor, she taught me so many things, from simple grammatical tips to massive ways to structure a novel. Editing a book is just as important as writing it, and with all this knowledge I know it won’t take 10 years to write the next one. I don’t recommend that to anybody. Time was my enemy for a long time, but it’s my friend now.

Featured Authors cover The Fetal Position
Featured Authors: M.B. Wynter, The Fetal Position

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Next time in featured authors, we’ll be interviewing a prolific Gold Coast-based author about his books.


Contact us to find out about being interviewed for featured authors.

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