Author Interview: Moriah McStay (Everything That Makes You)

 Published: March 17, 2105
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore.

And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?

Hasn’t everyone wondered what if? In this daring debut novel, Moriah McStay gives us the rare opportunity to see what might have happened if things were different. Maybe luck determines our paths. But maybe it’s who we are that determines our luck.

I absolutely love Everything That Makes You, it's a new all time favorite of mine! I was so happy to be able to interview the amazing author behind the book, Moriah McStay! (I'm seriously fan-girling right now!!) *breathe* Okay, onto the interview!

-What are three words that best describe Everything That Makes You?
What if and boys.

-The book has such an original concept by giving two stories to the main character. What inspired you to write Fi and Fiona’s story?
I wanted to write this story a long time. Like Fiona, I was in an accident as a child. It wasn’t nearly as bad as Fiona’s, but my right eye was badly damaged, so it looked very different than my left. You could tell. I got lots of questions, couldn’t play contact sports, had to wear big glasses. As I got older, I wondered what parts of my personality changed because of that freak accident. Or maybe none did.
In college, I engaged in this "what if" conversation with friends, and everyone had at least one moment of their own. Maybe not an accident, but an incident in school. A sick parent. A move from one city to another. I thought it’d be cool to write a book about it. So eventually (many, many years later) I did!

-Who do you connect most with, Fi or Fiona?
At first, I identified more with Fiona. I think approached Fi—the one “without any problems”-- with the same assumptions lots of us have about people who look whole from the outside. Without much empathy. But once I realized Fi had her own issues, I connected with her more. Now, I see parts of me in both. For example, I’m creative like Fiona, but not painfully shy. And while I’m not a jock like Fi, I am pretty competitive.

-Fiona is an extremely talented songwriter and guitarist. Fi is the best lacrosse player in the state. Other than writing, do you have any special talents?
This isn’t a talent—more a personality trait—but I’m pretty active. I do yoga and exercise a lot. I love the outdoors, and drag my family on day hikes whenever they’ll let me. That’s about all I have time for right now, with three teenage daughters and some books to write!

-Fiona and her group of friends hang out at a coffee shop called the Otherlands. Do you have an awesome coffee shop like the Otherlands or a cool place you go to hangout?
I have Otherlands! It’s real, and about a mile from my house. I wrote most of ETMY there. The chairs really are terrible.

-Did you have a playlist while writing EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU? If so, could you share a few songs that were on it?
I listened to a lot of singer-songwriter alt while writing, since that’s what Fiona would like. Some songs I kept coming back to:
Fix you by Coldplay
Song for Zula by Phosphorescent
7 Layers by Dotan
Winds of Change by Vance Joy

We Made a Mountain by The Mynabirds is a song I think Fiona and Fi would play for each other, if they could

Moriah McStay grew up in Memphis, TN, where she acquired a come-and-go drawl and a lifelong love of cowboy boots and fried pickles. She attended Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. Two graduate degrees and seven jobs later, she finally figured out what she wants to be when she grows up.
EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU is her first novel, and she's probably at home right now working on another one. 

Connect with Moriah: 


  1. I haven't heard much about this one, but I like the concept. I'm going to see if I can get my hands on a copy.

  2. I've seen mixed reviews about it & I ended up reading a spoiler about it lol even though I saw the warning :( I love the cover though! Fantastic interview. <3 Benish| Feminist Reflections

    1. Hey Benish! Aw I'm sorry to hear you read a spoiler, but the book is so AMAZING! I hope you end up trying it out! :)

  3. The book sounds interesting, I want to read it. Great interview.