Untamed (Untamed #1)
by Madeline Dyer
Publisher: Prizm Books
Release Date: May 20th 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Fantasy
As one of the last Untamed humans left in the world, Seven’s life has always been controlled by tight rules. Stay away from the Enhanced. Don’t question your leader. And, most importantly, never switch sides--because once you’re Enhanced there’s no going back. Even if you have become the perfect human being.
But after a disastrous raid on an Enhanced city, Seven soon finds herself in her enemy’s power. Realizing it’s only a matter of time before she too develops a taste for the chemical augmenters responsible for the erosion of humanity, Seven knows she must act quickly if she’s to escape and save her family from the same fate.
Yet, as one of the most powerful Seers that the Untamed and Enhanced have ever known, Seven quickly discovers that she alone holds the key to the survival of only one race. But things aren’t clear-cut anymore, and with Seven now questioning the very beliefs she was raised on, she knows she has an important choice to make. One that has two very different outcomes.
Seven must choose wisely whose side she joins, for the War of Humanity is underway, and Death never takes kindly to traitors.
Ooh, this is a difficult one as I go through phases of loving different genres, so my absolute favorite book changes... a lot. At the moment, it’s a close call between Richelle Mead’s SHADOW HEIR (which I really need to reread soon!) and Teri Terry’s MIND GAMES. But I also really like MRS DALLOWAY by Virginia Woolf.
Favorite TV show?
Hmm. I’d probably have to say Divergent at the moment—though it changes depending on what I’ve just seen.
Your Favorite Song?
I love “Mr Brightside” by the Killers, and it’s one of my go-to pieces of music for creating characters.
Pizza and salad.
Name 3 fictional places you would move to in a heartbeat.
This is such a tough one! My favorite fictional places are the harsher places that I probably wouldn’t want to go to. So, to be safe, I’d have to say: Hogwarts (when it’s not under attack), Wonderland (because I love the Alice books—though I’m not sure I’d want to be there indefinitely), and… maybe the Dauntless faction—but only because I’m so, so, so curious to see firsthand what it’s like.
Who is your perfect fictional boyfriend?
Ooh, such a tricky question! I can’t really think of one ‘perfect’ fictional boyfriend, so I’ll list a few!
I really like Hareton Earnshaw, particularly at the end of WUTHERING HEIGHTS. And Dimitri in Richelle Mead’s VAMPIRE ACADEMY (and the rest of her VA books!). Ooh, and of course Mr Darcy from PRIDE AND PREJUDICE!
“The difference between fiction and nonfiction is that fiction must be absolutely believable.” – Mark Twain
What do you find yourself “Fangirling” over?
I love book swag and posters and bookmarks and postcards and tote bags! And jewelry that has been inspired by books.
If you could meet one author, dead or alive, who would it be?
I’d love to meet Virginia Woolf.
Something to say to our Book Addicts?
You can never have too many books!
Hello Madeline! We are super excited to have you in our FFBC tours.
Thank you! I’m so excited to be here!
Could you tell our Book Addicts a little bit about Untamed?
Sure! UNTAMED is my debut novel, and I wrote it when I was eighteen. It released from Prizm Books (the YA imprint of Torquere Press) on May 20, 2015. The official hook is: When an Untamed girl is kidnapped and converted by the Enhanced Ones, she must remember who she was meant to be or else risk the extinction of her people.
So, it’s a YA dystopian novel that focuses on addiction, family loyalty and the notion of ‘doing the right thing’. But there are also a lot of secrets and betrayals--and a whole load of deceit is involved. And there’s a complex spiritual belief system too, which shakes things up!
Can you explain a bit what does it mean being an Untamed human and an Enhanced one in your novel?
Okay, so the Untamed humans are essentially like you and I. They’re the ‘normal’ people. The problem is there aren’t many Untamed ones left, because most have been converted into the Enhanced.
The Enhanced Ones are those who choose to take chemical augmenters to control and create their emotions, alter their appearances, and exaggerate their abilities (such as being able to run fast). The problem is that these augmenters are highly addictive—and the Enhanced lifestyle comes at the cost of humanity. Once you’re Enhanced, you lose who you really are, and there’s no going back.
So, in UNTAMED, there’s this ongoing war between the Untamed the Enhanced. The Untamed want to embrace what it means to be human, and have flaws, whereas the Enhanced believe that by converting everyone, they can eradicate all negative emotions, poverty and crime—and therefore create a better society, even if everyone is essentially an automaton.
Can you describe Seven and her personality? What would you say is the best thing about her?
So, Seven isn’t your ‘typical’ main character for a YA novel. She’s not that confident, athletic or brave. She’s certainly not the ‘leader type’ that you see in so many dystopian novels. Seven is easily intimidated and shy.
But she’s also one of the last remaining Untamed humans in the world—so that in itself says something about her strengths; she’s not strong in the conventional sense of the word, but she has an inner strength—a quiet fierceness—that only truly comes out when it’s a life-or-death moment. She’s more of a listener, and sees things from a different perspective to the braver characters. She’s more rational and logical, but there’s this inner struggle within her too, which I think makes her relatable. And she’s aware of her flaws.
Seven’s also very loyal to her family and the rest of her Untamed group, which I think is one of the best things about her. And I think this is what makes things interesting. She’s consumed by this desire to protect her family, yet at the start of the novel she believes that she’s the weakest of the Untamed people, and that she can’t protect those she most cares about. There’s this huge struggle within her. And we see this play out throughout the novel, as we watch Seven grow and develop because of her scars and everything she’s already gone through. Seven goes through some very dark times, yet she’s a survivor—and that’s why I love her because she shows that anyone can be strong, even if they’re not the bravest person.
How did you come up with the story? Did you find inspiration in any other story/movie/show and how has this affected your writing?
The initial idea came to me when I saw the music video for “La La La” by Naughty Boy featuring Sam Smith. The particular scene that inspired me was some sort of market, where what I interpreted as a human heart was being sold. And I just immediately started thinking about all the things a heart can represent. Pretty soon, I began wondering what a world would be like where emotions can be bought just as easily as food and clothes. And so, UNTAMED began.
Tell us your favorite quote from Untamed.
Oh, this is such a difficult one! I especially love some of the images that I’ve created in UNTAMED, and this has to be one of my favourites:
I wrench my gaze away, but the flashes from her eyes have left two circles of murky redness in my vision, as if I’ve been looking at the sun for too long.
But there’s also this one, about Raleigh (the leader of the Enhanced Ones). I love this paragraph as it just shows so much about the relationship between Seven and Raleigh, as well as depicting Seven’s confused mindset—and her vulnerability.
His gaze gets sharper, like a needle, and my head feels heavier. He leans closer, his arm going around me and I shiver, despite his hot skin and the warmth radiating from his body. Raleigh nods and smiles again. His teeth seem to get even whiter, the longer he smiles. I blink, nausea rising in me. Maybe it’s some sort of side effect... I shouldn’t feel sick... I’m safe here... Side effects; it has to be. Yes. I nod. Definitely the side effects.
Is there a specific scene that you had the most fun to write?
Yes! My favorite scene is the opening of Chapter Two—and this was the very first scene for UNTAMED that I wrote. In my earlier drafts, this scene actually opened the novel! I had so much fun writing this one as it was so experimental (compared to the other stuff I’d written), and was the place where I first developed the conflict between the Enhanced Ones and the Untamed.
Although, having said that, another scene that I had a lot of fun with is in Chapter Sixteen, as it’s where the sexual tension between the main character and the love interest properly develops for the first time. Every time I read that scene during edits I couldn’t help but smile gleefully.
If you had to pick one song to be the Theme Song for Untamed – Which one would you pick?
Although the music video for “La La La” by Naughty Boy featuring Sam Smith inspired me to write UNTAMED, I think a better Theme Song would be “Read All About It (Pt. III)” by Emeli Sandé, as the lyrics are all about the importance of being yourself in a world that tries to ‘tame’ you—which is the same theme running throughout UNTAMED. It’s strange, I only realized the similarities with this after UNTAMED had been published and I heard this song again.
Imagine that we get to see your book on the big screen (how awesome would that be?). Who would you pick to play your characters?
This is so tough because I have very set ideas of what my characters look like and can’t imagine other people playing them! The only character who I can really ‘see’, as an actor who I already know of, is Rahn: he’d be perfect played by Jerome Flynn. But I suppose if Matt Bomer had slightly lighter hair and was very sunburnt he’d also look pretty similar to how I’d imagined Corin Eriksen. And now I’m thinking about it, Freema Agyeman works pretty well as Seven’s older sister, Five Sarr (why the Sarr siblings all have numbers for names becomes a lot quicker once you’ve read UNTAMED!).
Are there any recommendations you could give your readers to be in the “perfect mood” to read Untamed (specific music, snacks…)?
What a great question! I think the perfect place to read this book would be somewhere isolated and wild, somewhere where the weather’s pretty harsh as this would only add to the dark, lonely tone that UNTAMED has in places. So if there’s a storm going on—brilliant! Atmospheric music could work well.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Being able to live in my imagination! I love inventing new worlds where anything can happen, and then creating characters who will face many horrible challenges! It’s the freedom and possibilities within writing that I really adore.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently finishing up the pre-sub edits for FRAGMENTED, book two in the Untamed Series. And I’m also working on a new standalone dystopian novel for young adults that’s very different to anything I’ve written before.
Thank you so much for everything, Madeline!
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Madeline Dyer lives in the southwest of England, and has a strong love for anything dystopian, ghostly, or paranormal. She can frequently be found exploring wild places, and at least one notebook is known to follow her wherever she goes. Aside from writing, Madeline enjoys reading, painting, and inline skating. Untamed is her debut novel.
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