Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Once upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess fireman. ‘Write, Megan,’ her grandmother advised. So that’s what she did.
Thirty-odd years later, I write the kinds of books I love to read: young-adult paranormal romance fiction. Young adult, because it’s the time of life that most embodies freedom and discovery and first love. Paranormal, because I’ve always believed that there are more things in heaven and on earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy. And romance, because I’m a misty-eyed dreamer who lives for those ‘life is so breathtakingly beautiful’ moments.
To date I’ve published three of the five books in my Ceruleans series: Death Wish, Forget Me Not and Wild Blue Yonder.
I grew up in the Royal County, a hop, skip and a (very long) jump from Windsor Castle, but these days I make my home in Robin Hood’s county, Nottingham. I live with my husband, a proud Scot who occasionally kicks back in a kilt; my son, a budding artist with the soul of a paleontologist; and my baby daughter, a keen pan-and-spoon drummer who sings in her sleep. When I’m not writing, you’ll find me walking someplace green, reading by the fire, or creating carnage in the kitchen as I pursue my impossible dream: of baking something edible.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
The latest release is Book 3: Wild Blue Yonder.
The Ceruleans series is quite personal to me, based on a mix of experience and fiction woven from my imaginings and ponderings. The setting – in a part of coastal Devon where I spent every summer as a child – was a key inspiration. But the story, about love and loss, light and darkness, good and bad, is based on my own efforts to make sense of a world in which people close to you can die; in which being true to yourself can be incredibly difficult; and in which love – for people, for places, for a way of being, for a passion and an ethos – is the only reason to hold on.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Earplugs. I write in cafes quite often, because I love the coffee, the cakes and buzz – but I need the buzz kept as background noise or it distracts me. So I take earplugs everywhere with me, and use them to zone out. In a particularly noisy cafe I’ll wear a double layer – foam earplugs with squishy silicon plugs over the top. I get some odd looks, certainly, but the writing flows beautifully so I don’t care. I just have to remember to remove the earplugs before going up to the counter to order another coffee, or the conversation ends up going something like:
Barista: Hmna ghrt albslo?
Barista: Hmna ghrt albslo?
Me: Can’t hear you – what did you… Oh, hang on. [Rummages in ears and pulls out plugs to the bewilderment/disgust of all around.]
What authors, or books have influenced you?
More than I could possibly list. I’ve been reading voraciously since I was tiny; it’s the only way to learn how to write. I specialised in African-American history and literature as part of my degree, and Maya Angelou and Alice Walker in particular have always been firm favourites. My copy of Oliver Twist is yellowed and well-thumbed, as are Wuthering Heights and The Phantom of the Opera. I read plenty of women’s fiction, a fair amount of crime and thriller fiction, some literary fiction and the odd humour title. But of course it’s YA that dominates my shelf: Stephenie Meyer, Cassandra Clare, Maggie Stiefvater, Rachel Vincent, Richelle Mead, Veronica Roth, Lauren Oliver, Becca Fitzpatrick, Jenny Downham, John Green, Lauren Kate, Suzanne Collins. I also have a soft spot for Harry Potter, which was the catalyst for my love of epic series fiction and is now my son’s passion.
What are you working on now?
Book 4 of the series, Devil and the Deep. The first draft is done; now I need to rewrite and edit and proof. And do the cover, which is always a long and fraught process!
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Do you have any advice for new authors?
1. Explore. Go places, meet people, challenge your assumptions. Thoreau says it best: “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
2. Read. The single best way to improve your writing is to learn by osmosis, to read and read and read. Not just in your favourite genre; all kinds of books by all kinds of writers. Literary, mass market – even the bad ones have plenty to teach you.
3. Believe. If you don’t have faith in yourself, why should anyone else? You’ve nothing to lose by believing you can write, and everything to gain.
4. Enjoy. Always remember why you want to write – for the sheer love of it. Don’t get bogged down in the business of writing. Love every minute.
5. Keep writing. In his bestselling book Outliers Malcolm Gladwell lays down the 10,000-Hour Rule: to succeed at anything, you need to practise your craft for 10,000 hours. That’s a lot of writing!
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
No so much advice, as wisdom: From Kim McMillen’s beautiful book When I Loved Myself Enough: ‘When I loved myself enough I knew I was in the right place at the right time and I could relax.’ If you trust in that, nothing fazes you. Whatever’s going on in your life is exactly what’s meant to be going on. No need to struggle or wish things are different. Just be in the moment and appreciate it as beautiful. It’s a mantra that got me through childbirth!
What are you reading now?
It’s Not Me, It’s You by Mhairi McFarlane. I love the way she writes – fresh, original and laugh-out-loud funny.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Bringing out the last two books of the series, Devil and the Deep and Darkly, Deeply, Beautifully. And then a standalone novel I have in mind, set in London’s West End.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
1. A poetry anthology containing works spanning hundreds of years and by poets from all walks of life, for comfort.
2. One Thousand and One Nights, all three volumes, for lengthy escapism.
3. Extreme Food: What to Eat When Your Life Depends on It by Bear Grylls, for survival.
4. One of my own books, for a reminder that with hard work and self-belief anything (even getting off that island) is possible.